Thiruvananthapuram India – Best Places to Eat
Thiruvananthapuram has gradually earned a reputation as a foodie heaven. The city has a seemingly endless choice of places to eat, catering for all taste-buds. The dining venues range from typical South India fare to quick-fry food trucks, elegant restaurants, sophisticated lounges and simple local eateries. Visitors to this historic city will be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out, particularly when trying both indigenous, innovative and fusion cuisine.
Tastes of Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala is famous for its unique blend of spices, dominated by coconut milk, tamarind, asafoetida, coriander and chilli. This lends its more traditional dishes a unique and aromatic taste, which defines such offerings as sadhya otherwise known as a Kerala thali. A set meal usually served as lunch, which consists of steaming-hot rice, various curries, sambar, small side dishes, savouries, pickles and desserts, spread out on a banana leaf. Tradition dictates that the tapering end of the leaf points to the left of the seated guest with the rice served on the lower half. If you wish to observe local customs, abandon all cutlery and tuck into your meal using your right hand.
We recommend you try this when sampling sadhya in one of many restaurants which have it as a staple on their menu. One of the best known among them is Mothers Veg Plaza on Bakery Junction – about a mile away from the railway station – which serves both vegan and vegetarian food and is famous for its thali meals, starting at INR200. It is best as a quick stopover for a delicious and filling lunch in a buzzing and friendly atmosphere. It is efficiently run, clean, inexpensive and offers great and speedy service. Few Westerners come across this place, but if you’re after a cheap, traditional, South Indian lunch following an arduous train journey this is the place to go. It also serves excellent dosas and parathas, both of which are available throughout the day.
Another place to visit if you’re after an authentic Keralan meal is the Curry Chatty, located near the Police Training College, in Thycaud. The restaurant is set in a traditional Keralan house, refurbished as a dining venue. The décor adds considerable ambience to the dining experience, which is enhanced by helpful and friendly staff and a varied menu offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Curry Chatty prides itself on deliciously cooked, regional delicacies such as beef fry, beef ularthiyathu, kozhi curry, kappa biryani, payasam and gulab jamun. As well as serving a variety of meat and veg dishes, Curry Chatty offers a range of seafood platters, including spiced fried prawns and traditional fish curry, both of which are absolutely superb. Unlike anywhere else, all Curry Chatty dishes are served in traditional earthenware, which makes for a personal touch that’s unique to this particular local eatery. We recommend this place if you’re after a family meal or an intimate gathering in a small and cosy venue with a bit of a personal touch.
If you’re something of a health-buff, however, the one place you must visit while in Thiruvananthapuram is Pathayam Naturopathic Food Restaurant. There are two branches of this particular eatery, one at Press Road, between YMCA Hall and Hotel Residency Tower, and the other opposite Ajantha Theatre near to Parthas. This place is something of a rarity, catering for the uber-healthy, ethically-conscious foodies. The menu is based on locally sourced, organic food both raw and semi-cooked, spiced to perfection and conscientiously prepared to a very high standard. The menu is varied and ranges from simple seasonal fruit salads to special set meals of brown rice with avial or thoran; a wide selection of soups; wholemeal and vegetable-based bread and more traditional offerings such as channa masala with a fresh and modern twist. Pathayam Naturopathic Food Restaurant is a truly great place to stop for a lunch or a light evening meal, and meet like-minded people who take their food pretty seriously. Please keep in mind, however, that both branches of the restaurant get pretty busy during dinner hours so it is best to get there in time before the evening rush, or better still to book in advance.
On the go
Another great thing about Thiruvananthapuram is that eating out doesn’t necessarily mean eating-in, or rather sitting down for a meal. Food on the go in this particular India capital city is ubiquitous and is becoming something of a trend.
Food trucks selling hot-and-ready eats on the go are slowly beginning to compete with the more traditional culinary establishments. This is a great option if you’re on a tight budget, and enjoy trying new things. Most of these trucks open shop in the evenings around the city centre and are favoured by everyone from casual passers-by to families and those in want of a quick bite in between dinner or a substitute for a full-on meal.
Most of these mobile eateries offer hot and spicy delicacies such as chicken and beef dishes served with parathas and chapatis, soft, steaming dosas accompanied by chutney and sambar, excellent omelettes, idiappams, orattis and the ever-popular kappa. This is truly authentic local cuisine, cheap, freshly prepared and something of an experience which every foodie should try at least once.
Cafes and coffee houses
Various coffee houses and drinking venues – with Western style menus – are also dotted around Thiruvananthapuram. For a quick coffee break in the city, the Indian Coffee House chain is a good option, with several branches, one in Thampanoor and another, a larger one, on Museum Road, close to the public gardens. Both of these are good for a quick coffee and a savoury or a sweet snack, before exploring the city. While they may still offer some traditional Indian fare, both lunch and dinner, the idea is to emulate a Western-style establishment which caters for leisurely coffee-lovers.
Bars and drinking venues
As with any capital city, Thiruvananthapuram is a metropolis of big chain luxury hotels and bar lounges. One of the most popular ones being the V Bar located on the first floor of the Hilton Garden Hotel, on Punnen Road. It is the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the city. The V Bar is very much a European style place with an extensive list of wines, beers, spirits and cocktails. It is also served by the Garden Grille Restaurant, which runs an exceptional kitchen with a menu that offers Western-style cuisine as well as fine-dining Indian dishes. It is a little on the expensive side with an average dish starting at around INR1000.
Another great place to have a tipple after a busy day in town is Twist, on CV Raman Pillai Road, in Thycaud. Famous for its varied selection of international cocktails, it has exemplary staff and service, an excellent range of snacks as well as veg and non-veg dishes of which their biryani is probably the best.
Drinking and smoking in public in Kerala is strictly prohibited, thus you are best advised to do so in the privacy of your hotel or an allocated area. Penalties begin from INR250 and can reach anywhere in excess of INR1000, according to the severity of your offence and the local policeman’s discretion. So be advised to exercise caution in public places, but do take the time to walk around the city centre and enjoy this foodie paradise.