10 Restaurants That Have Stood Since Before Indian Independence
Image Credit: nihal_yash/Bademiya/Instagram

There is no dearth of excellent restaurants in India. We’re a country that prides itself on its food and dishes to be found are as diverse as the people that make them. But there are certain places that stand as poignant witnesses to the country's journey towards independence. These venerable grandparents of the culinary scene have weathered the storms of time and hold a special place in the hearts and stomachs of those who visit them. On the occasion of the 77th Indian Independence Day, let’s turn back the clock on some lesser-known spots that have stood the test of time. 

Each one is a living testament to the evolution of the nation. Rustic beams, faded photographs adorning the walls and the clinking of glasses and cutlery that have echoed across generations – they all weave together a tale of resilience and endurance. The menus themselves tell stories of cultural fusion and culinary experimentation. The dishes have evolved, just as the nation did, blending traditions and innovations to create a unique Indian identity. 

Image Credits: United Coffee House/Facebook

In an age of rapid change, where everything can change in the blink of an eye, these establishments remain steady, reminding us of the importance of preserving the past while embracing the future. Their legacy is a testament to the enduring power of culture, the bonds of community, and the irresistible allure of flavours that have transcended time.

Here are 10 spots across India that have been open since Independence Day, and even before: 

1. Moti Mahal, Delhi (1947): 

When India was partitioned, three friends working at a small eatery in Peshawar were forced to flee to Delhi and there they bought a thara in Daryaganj and founded their own place in 1947. Moti Mahal is often credited as the birthplace of famous dishes like Dal Makhani and Butter Chicken which were originally designed to minimise wastage and stretch the restaurant’s limited resources as far as they could go. Today, people come from all over the world to try their food and they forever changed the face of Indian culinary history.

2. Vidyarthi Bhavan, Bengaluru (1943): 

When this spot opened in 1943 with Mr Venkatramana Ural and later his brother, Mr Parameshwara Ural at the helm, Vidyarthi Bhawan, was designed to feed the demands of the students of National High School and ‘Acharya Patasala’. Batch after batch of hit crispy ghee dosas feed the stream of customers and servers who have spent their lives in the restaurants expertly dole out hearty fare to one and all. 

Image Credits: prabhanjana.photos/Instagram

3. Bademiya, Mumbai (1942): 

Anyone who’s had a late night in SoBo knows the name Bademiya, but this kebab destination has had a long journey. Founded in 1942, Bademiya started as a humble street food stall and moved around several times before finally settling down at its current spot in Colaba serving delicious kebabs and rolls. Named after owner Mohammed Yasin’s long flowing beard they have since expanded to brick and mortar restaurants and multiple locations to serve hot fresh meaty delights to both locals and tourists over the years.

4. United Coffee House, Delhi (1942)

Founded in 1942, the United Coffee House in Delhi has been a historic gathering place for intellectuals, artists, and politicians. Started by Lala Hans Raj Kalra, this is believed to be Delhi’s first Western-style café and it drew crowds accordingly. Known for its charming ambience and eclectic menu, it offers a wide range of Indian and continental dishes, as well as an array of beverages including coffee. It has managed to maintain its legacy and continues to be a popular spot in Delhi's culinary scene.

Image Credits: Pritam Dhaba

5. Pritam Restaurant, Mumbai (1942): 

Established in 1942, Pritam Restaurantm now also known as Pritam da Dhaba, started as a humble eatery and gradually gained popularity for being one of the only authentic Punjabi spots in Mumbai. When Prahlad Singh Kohli and his wife arrived from Rawalpindi they arrived in Dadar and headed to Pritam Hindhu Hotel for a bit where she challenged the chef on the recipe. While they were in the kitchen, Kohli and the owner got to talking and by the time she came back, they were partners. Today Pritam hosts everyone from Bollywood royalty to regulars with good food and welcome. 

6. Nizam's, Kolkata (1932): 

Established in 1932, Nizam's is renowned for its Kolkata Kathi Rolls – a street food that has become synonymous with the city. Born in Kolkata’s New Market previously known as Sir Stuart Hogg Market, they started by selling kebabs and parathas they later started wrapping it in a less messy configuration for British officials and bureaucrats on their way to the business district. Today they are a common street food all over India and a constant Kolkata favourite.

Image Credits: @rockyandmayur/Twitter

7. Chafekar Dugdha Mandir, Nagpur (1931): 

Established in 1931 by  Vasudev Govind Chafekar and his friend Narayan Sakharam Palkar this unassuming joint served as a meeting point for the freedom fighters of Nagpur during the Partition. Chafekar Dugdha Mandir is known for its dairy products and traditional Maharashtrian snacks like dahi misal pav, dahi misal, sabudana vada, shrikhand, khichdi, masala doodh and the local favourite, piyush.

8. New Irani Restaurant, Ahmedabad (1930): 

The New Irani Restaurant in Ahmedabad opened in the 1930s, is part of the city's culinary heritage. With fluffy bun maska and hot Irani Chai, you can soak in an atmosphere of yesteryear. Iranian cafes and restaurants like this one played a crucial role in shaping the food culture of India by introducing a fusion of Persian and Indian flavours, along with their iconic chai and baked goods.

9. Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro, Goa (1930s): 

While not exactly a restaurant, Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro is a historic bakery in Goa that has been serving traditional Portuguese and Goan sweets since the 1930s. With a single table outside, you can soak in the smell of freshly baked bread and traditional Goan fare like Bebinca, Pinale, Rissois and much more. It's a testament to the diverse culinary influences that have shaped the region's cuisine.

10. Rayar's Mess, Chennai (1930): 

Rayar's Mess, founded in 1930, this legendary spot tucked away in Mylapore isn’t easy to find, but worth the journey. It’s usually packed from the moment they open their doors and have made a name for themselves with their home-style food and unfaltering consistency. It draws crowds from every walk of life and prides itself on knowing the sambhar and chutney preferences of all its regulars.