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10 iconic vintage restaurants in Bengaluru that serve delicious fare with a side of nostalgia

From pre-independence breakfast joints to old-world establishments that have served the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Queen Elizabeth II – Bengaluru is home to some of the country’s most iconic restaurants. We’re going down memory lane to list out a few that are must-visits.

Bengaluru’s culinary culture has two distinctive sides – the young and the old-school. The former is marked by the string of new cocktail bars, fine-dining restaurants, and experimentative coffee houses that have cropped up in the city. The latter, however, is where most locals’ hearts lie.

Serving up decadent ice-cream sundaes, frothy beer, buttery dosas, and succulent steaks, vintage restaurants in Bengaluru serve as time capsules, resisting change in the face of globalisation and (now) a pandemic. Naturally, grabbing a bite at one of them is a ritual steeped in nostalgia for many in the city.

In fact, Bengaluru-based historian Ramachandra Guha had once famously stated, “I may die before my favourite café does. I can probably (just about) live without music, cricket, and even books, but life without Parade’s (Koshy’s) is impossible to contemplate.” Whether you enjoy turning the pages of history through food or are just looking to discover a different side of the IT hub of India, these restaurants will not disappoint.

Discover the magic of old Bengaluru through these iconic vintage restaurants

Koshy’s (1952)


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Arguably one of the most iconic restaurants in Bengaluru, Koshy’s began as a bakery in 1940 and was later built on St. Mark’s Road (where it now stands) in 1952. The establishment merges the vibes of a European and Itani cafe, with an extensive menu that features delicious dishes.

Regulars would (and continue to) order without so much as a glance at the menu and popular dishes spotted across tables would range from hot dogs to Kerala fried chicken, but not without a glass of tea. Fried food and gingham table cloths are a common feature of the cafe, which has served the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Khruschev, and Queen Elizabeth II. Journalists and students frequent the spot as well, as do a string of families. If you’re headed here, try the chicken live toast, bacon omelette, mushroom toast, ham sandwich, and vegetable cutlet.

The Only Place (1965)

This iconic steakhouse, one of the first in the city, on Museum Road, has been offering locals the choicest cuts for over 57 years. The establishment first began as Regent Guest House on Brigade Road, frequented by expatriates, US Peace Corp volunteers, Iranians, Palestinians, and other foreigners.

Haroon Sulaiman Sait, the founder, stated in an interview with the Indian Express that due to a lack of continental food in the city, international guests would eat breakfast in the hotel, in turn introducing the staff to a range of different foods. Eventually, pizzas and pastas became a common feature in the restaurant. Today, the only notable change at this place is that the burger which once sold for Rs 2 costs a little more than Rs 200.

India Coffee House (1957)


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Located a few steps away from The Only Place is this vintage eatery that’s known, as the name suggests, for its coffee. Particularly, filter coffee without the chicory. The space was first launched in the city in 1957 before being shut down by the government due to a change in policies. Workers who’d lost their jobs then organised themselves into a cooperative in 1958, set up shop on MG Road, and named the place India Coffee House.

Eventually, branches cropped up across the country. In Bengaluru, the space continues to draw crowds, despite the scores of artisanal coffee shops that have opened in the city. To date, portraits that tell tales of yesteryears hang on the walls here and the service staff wears a colonial-era red and white uniform. Popular on the menu are the coffee, masala dosa, beetroot cutlets, and eggs with toast. The coffee here is one of the most affordable in the city, with a cup for Rs 30.

MTR, Lalbagh Road (1924)

A household name, not just in Bengaluru, but India MTR is over a century old. Famed for its good quality South Indian comfort food. The restaurant, when it was first set up, only served coffee and idlis. Later in 1951 after a trip to Europe, owner Yagnanarayana Maiya set up stringent hygiene measures in the kitchen, which continue to be followed today.

MTR has seen several economic and social unrests, serving customers as the city transformed into the metropolitan hub that it is today. However, step through its doors and time stands still, with the same decor, tiles, and food as the space served nearly a century ago. In fact, the recipes and formulas for their popular dosas, idlis, and coffee have reportedly not changed over the years, despite their expansion around the world. This place is a must-visit if you’re in the city.

Airlines Hotel (1968)


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Walk by St. Mark’s Road in the city and you’re bound to find a throng of people heading to this spot. Once there, the waft of smoke mixed with the fragrance of steaming hot dosa and freshly brewed coffee is unmissable. Established in 1968, Airlines Hotel is the best spot for a quick bite and long hours spent talking. Wooden tables set up in an open garden with a canopy of trees add to its charm, as does the warmth of the staff who are always up for a quick debate.

The city’s first drive-in restaurant, the space is frequented by travellers, cyclists, and professionals who work around the area. The pandemic slowed down business but support from locals kept it going. Besides, the space also houses its staff members. In addition to the dosa and coffee, the restaurant has delicious chow chow bhath, kesari bhath, and lunch thalis. You could also try their pizzas and other continental fares.

Lakeview Bar (1930)

This milk bar dates back to the early 90s and stands today on bustling MG road as a vintage shop that offers cakes, ice cream, and other sweet treats. The space was started by Englishman James Meadow Charles, who sold three flavours of ice creams – vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry – to people who’d drop by to look at the Ulsoor Lake. Later, post-independence, he sold it to a 19-year-old Vrajlal Jamnadas.

Since then, the space has not shut down for a prolonged time and is an integral part of many locals’ childhoods. Popular here are butterscotch ice cream, banana split, chocolate fudge, and strawberry scoops. They have an extensive list of ice creams to choose from but their milkshakes and sandwiches are just as good. This one’s fondly referred to as Bengaluru’s Willy Wonka factory and if you’re in the city, drop by for a sweet bite.

Sri Govinda Rao Military Hotel (1908)

Another pre-independence restaurant in the city, this military hotel serves delicious non-vegetarian fare with flavours that have stayed the same for decades. Mutton biryani is a must-have here, as are the mutton chops, keema fry, chilli chicken, and mutton balls. The place is untouched by time and word-of-mouth has been its sole form of publicity. The throng of crowds that flock to the restaurant over lunch and dinner is a testament to this.

Anecdotes state that the name could refer to the fact that the restaurant was set up to service soldiers stationed in nearby cantonments and was set up by SG Rao who came to the city in the hopes of landing a cooking job. What first began as an eatery with a few benches and desks under a thatched room soon grew into an empire, with the eatery being a household name by the post-independence era. Natti cuisine is spotlighted here and you can rest assured of no harmful additives being a part of your meal. Drop by for a bite if you’re in town.

Pecos (1989)


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Bengaluru was once known for its classic rock-inspired bars and pubs and its bustling live music culture. The first spot to fuel that reputation, Pecos, was established in 1989. It began as a Mexican food joint, eventually becoming popular for its cheap beers and rock music.

The space continues to have a retro, classic rock ambience with posters of Pink Floyd up on the walls and the distinctive sound of AC/DC playing in the background. Naturally, it has a cult-like following, especially among locals. Try the corgi pork and other bacon delicacies along with the beer here. Weekends are packed, so if you’re headed to this hole-in-the-wall space, be sure to do so early.

Corner House (1982)

Right next door to the Airlines Hotel, this ice cream joint is packed with old and young visitors alike, with many ordering a giant portion of Death by Chocolate, a sundae as iconic as the space itself. Layers of chocolate sauce meet creamy ice cream and generous nutty toppings here. The peach melba, cake fudge, and salted caramel ice cream are quite popular as well.

The space was set up in the 1980s, being stripped apart and put back together several times over the years. At first a fast food cafe with in-house bread, burgers, and pizzas, Corner House soon shut down, reopening with a large dessert menu to keep up with the competition. Eventually, it transformed into the ice-cream parlour that it is today, standing tall despite the scores of others that have cropped up since. Best part? The prices are quite affordable.

CTR Shri Sagar (1920)

This is one of the most beloved spots to grab dosa in the city and has been around for over a century now! The showstopper here is the benne (butter) dosa, which is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The restaurant was started by a few brothers in the 1920s and was a popular meeting point for writers in the 1940s. The first owners had to sell the place in the 1950s but passed on scores of knowledge to the new ones who carried the legacy forward.

Time here, like other spots on this list, stands still, with vintage wall clocks and old, near dilapidated paintings on the walls. The cash counter is vintage as well. There’s no better place to experience Bengaluru’s old-world charm. That said, lines here are long, especially over the weekend so expect a wait time when you head to the restaurant or be sure to drop by early (8:30 am is too late). Try the idli, vada, poori, kesari bhath, and filter coffee as well while you’re there.

Featured image: Courtesy @isokeno/Instagram; Hero image: Courtesy @garageworx/Instagram

10 iconic vintage restaurants in Bengaluru that serve delicious fare with a side of nostalgia

Eshita is a food, alcohol, travel, and entertainment writer who spends her days zeroing in on the next big trend to write about. She’s a communication graduate with bylines in Conde Nast Traveller India, GQ India, Deccan Herald, and Girls Buzz. When not at work, you’re likely to find her hunting for a good read or charting out the perfect itinerary for a solo trip across Asia.

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