Jaipur's MI Road been a humble abode for eateries since the pre-Independence era and has the charm of the old city amalgamated with some modern amenities.
ANYONE who travels to Jaipur always has a list of items that they have been asked to try out in the Pink City; most of those places are located on MI Road. ‘Mirza Ismail Road’ has been a humble abode for eateries since the pre-Independence era and has the charm of the old city amalgamated with some modern amenities. One of my friends recently visited Jaipur and I took him for a delicious joyride on the super busy MI Road. Little did I know that I would find myself going on a nostalgic trip via this food trail.
1. Rawat Misthan Bhandar
Started in 1985, Rawat Misthan Bhandar is a paradise full of kachoris and sweets. Their pyaaz ki kachori is so scrumptious and popular that a lot of people get it packed so they can carry it abroad. Even writing about this round piece of heaven is making me drool all over my keyboard. When we were little, my father would get us fresh kachoris in the morning from this super crowded shop surrounded by locals as well as tourists. People from all financial backgrounds unite together in the name of “Rawat ki pyaaz ki kachori”.
Now we do have the option of ordering online from Zomato but the feeling of relishing the treats standing at the store is an experience in itself. From seeing the fresh jalebis being made to the happiness on the customers’ faces to finally getting your piping hot kachori in a paper plate, this is an experience that a food delivery app will not give you.
2. Gulab Ji Chai Wale
Late Gulab ji started selling tea from a small cart in 1946 which later turned into a shop serving chai, coffee and other snacks. He would serve chai to people in need every morning, free of cost. They’re open for business every day from 4 am to 10 pm, making it the perfect spot for tea lovers.
My parents used to make a pitstop here early in the morning on weekends. Or if we ever had to go to the airport or railway station, we would always stop here to have some chai and bun maska.
Started by Kishan Lal Govind Narain Agarwal in 1944, this is a mandatory pitstop for anyone passing by MI Road. Their lassi, served in a kulhad with malai, is perfectly balanced and has had the same taste since I can remember. They usually get sold out by noon-1 pm itself, hence now there are multiple outlets adjacent the original Lassiwala, all leveraging the name of “Lassiwala” to court custom from the people who don’t know about the original.
This is my go-to beverage during summers. Since the location is central, I cross MI Road almost every single day, and I’m always tempted to get a quick summer fix from Lassiwala.
4. Surya Mahal
This pure vegetarian family restaurant has been the go-to place for families since 1954. They have a bakery called Bake Hut (since 1995) which was way ahead of its time. Our parents sometimes used to pick up my brother and me from our school, which was also near MI Road, and we would go to Surya Mahal for lunch. My brother and I would always plead with our parents to buy us the lemon and chocolate tarts.
I visited the restaurant after a long time and fell in love with their thali once again. The old charm is still there, with the humble staff serving customers with utmost love and warm hospitality, a rarity in this era.
Jal Mahal Ice-cream Parlour (since 1952) is also located here, serving some of the best ice-creams and sundaes even in 2023.
This luxurious restaurant came into existence in 1967 and has maintained its standards in terms of taste, quality and hospitality ever since.
We would often go here for family dinners on special occasions, as their food has always been lip-smacking. However, what excited me most was their selection of sweets, especially the gulab jamun. They make cylindrical gulab jamuns rather than the regular spherical ones; with the first bite itself, you know the dish has been made with love. My mother who’s an excellent cook and loves to prepare lavish spreads for house guests, always gets Natraj’s gulab jamun for dessert.
Founded in 1949, Niros has been loved and celebrated by locals, royals, celebrities, politicians alike. Apart from their Indian food, they started offering Chinese and Continental dishes at a time when no one else was even thinking about it, hence attracting a lot of tourists as well as curious locals. Niros is very popular for their non-vegetarian food offerings like bhuna chicken, lal maas etc. but this restaurant is also a nostalgic childhood favourite of vegetarians as well, with their pindi chana being top on everyone’s list.
Their interiors are beautiful: a mix of modern and medieval with stunning murals by artist Satish Gujral showcasing Rajasthani kings and queens playing chaupad.
7. Indian Coffee House
There are over 500 outlets of Indian Coffee House across India. The first was opened in Churchgate, Bombay, in 1936, under the management of the Indian Coffee Board. Indian Coffee House made its way to Jaipur in 1962, tucked away in a 100-year-old building, offering the charm of retro times.
I used to visit this restaurant quite often with my mother because she used to love the simplicity of this place and the dosas they’d serve. This is easily one of the most affordable “cafés” in the city, with delicious offerings. My go-to order here is an omelette, dosa, idli and a cold coffee.
The uniform of the staff has remained unchanged over the years, as has their ethos of service with a smile. Time really has stood still in this coffee house. Amid the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives, spending half an hour at Indian Coffee House transported me back to 2001 as I sat there and savoured a dosa with my mom.
8. Bombay Misthan Bhandar
Bombay Misthan Bhandar aka BMB is known for making the finest quality of desi ghee sweets since the 1950s. Their restaurant is quite popular among the masses for Indian, Chinese and Continental food, however their desi ghee sweets like ghevar, laddoo and rasgulla have no comparison.
I have never been a fan of drinking milk but the kulhad garam doodh that you get here in winters is what heaven would taste like. The sheer warmth and joy this piping hot beverage gives during the chilly winter months cannot be explained in words. Another favourite of mine here is their ras malai: the perfect balance of flavours that bursts in your mouth with each bite is blissful.
Visiting all of these iconic places made me truly nostalgic and left me thinking about simpler times. If you’re reading this, I request you to take a moment from your busy schedule and visit any of these iconic places on MI Road. We all deserve a nostalgic trip into the past every once in a while, just to get reacquainted with life’s simpler pleasures.
Radhika Agarwal is creator, TheFoodieDevi