Bakthiar Plaza, 6, M.G. Road
Tucked inside a heritage building at M.G. Road in Pune’s Camp area, Marz-O-Rin is the sort of place a couple in a Basu Chatterjee film would pick for their dates. The café opened in 1965, and its no-frills sandwiches, burgers, rolls, and pizzas still retain the simplicity of that time. Try the chutney sandwich, mac & cheese, and chicken burger with their special Zoom sauce, and pick a spot at the arched balcony on the first floor. Marz-O-Rin also serves an array of thick shakes, flavoured milk, fudge (rose almond, red velvet, almond), crumbly biscuits, and pastries. People-watching here is half the joy—college-going teens with textbooks sprawled on the tables, medical reps with their bulging briefcases, an occasional artist sketching away in a corner, and 60-something couples sipping on Lime & Lemoni in their favourite nooks.
Millenium Star, Dhole Patil Rd, near Ruby Hall, Sangamvadi
If you’re a pucca Bombayiite like me and love to start your day with a big fat bun maska, a cup or three of chai, and egg bhurji at an Irani café, Vohuman is the place to be in Pune. Their bun butter jam and egg cheese omelette are stellar too, and old-timers know to order a plate full of cream worth Rs.25 for extra joy. A meal for two with chai needn’t cross Rs.200 here, and the service is remarkably swift. The only thing distracting you while you tuck into that crisp gold egg fry will be the man sitting with a giant vat of butter at the cash counter, merrily prepping a tower of buns.
418, Munjabacha Bole Rd, Narayan Peth
If you’re in Narayan Peth and happen to crave misal, enter the alley where the crowds spill onto the street at all times. The best Puneri misal of the city is served at a humble tea stall called Bedekar, whose pista-green walls and hard-backed seats belie the flavours its kitchen whips up every day since 1947 (they began serving misal in 1961).
Bedekar’s misal stands out because unlike many recipes, it skips sprouts—instead expect generous portions of vegetables topped with fresh coriander. Wait for the server to come around with a steel tumbler and pour their signature sweet-tangy-fiery misal gravy on the bowl veggies; mop it all up with slices of bread—Bedekar’s doesn’t serve pao. Try their kokum sharbat, kairi panna, and sol kadhi too, and the batata wadas if you aren’t already full with misal. If you happen to chat with one of the owners, they’ll coax you to pack some of their special gulkand laddoos—I bought 10 and wished I’d taken more.
394, East St, Solapur Bazar, Camp & Survey No. 35, 1, N Main Rd, Koregaon Park Annexe, Koregaon Park
Every table in this warren of rooms owned by Burger has only three things—fries, cold drinks, and huge burgers oozing with mayo and ketchup. It won’t be easy to score a seat at this low-key joint on the weekend, but if you persevere the reward is one of the city’s best burgers—fillet fish, jumbo chicken, chicken salami, chicken hotdog, or sausage burgers. There’s no going wrong with any of them. They cost between Rs.60-100, and have that homey goodness that fancier chains can never get right.
Shop No. 1166, Tilak Road, Hatti Ganapati Chowk, Near Sahitya Parishad, Sadashiv Peth
Muster a kingly appetite before you step through the doors of Durvankur Thali at Sadashiv Peth. One of Pune’s oldest and best loved Maharashtrian thali joints, it looks like an airy lunch area of a ’70s marriage hall with its plastic chairs and red tablecloth. Durvankur serves different dishes during the week and on their Sunday special. Whichever day you pick, know that you’ll be served with an endless array of roti, bhakri, dry vegetables, gravies, kadhis, fried chillies and other steamed goodies, dahi vada, papad, pickle, and varan bhaat. Their desserts—be it sheera, aamras, shrikhand, or gulab jamun—are best enjoyed with a good look around the place; waiters whizzing past with giant serving bowls and septuagenarian bhaus donned in white dhotis and Nehru topis, pouring ghee over their little hills of rice, making your meal only sweeter.
Plot No. E1, E2 Hiremath Park, Kalyani Nagar
Fairy lights stringing the facade of a heritage bungalow, a boutique store on the ground floor, potted plants everywhere, and a restaurant serving fusion organic food at the rooftop: Paashh has elegant-chic written all over it. The menu flaunts drinks like banana thandai and sandalwood watermelon cooler, and golgappas with quinoa. One meal later, I see how Paashh delivers on every front—the freshest produce, delicate flavours, and a little twist in every dish elevate even the most widely served recipes. Their kebabs are made of miso glazed pumpkin and coriander pesto; the risotto is delicious with black rice, green peas and truffle. For dessert, whether you choose saffron poached pear with blue cheese ice cream, or almond peach pie with cardamom, you know that you’re going for seconds very soon.
Kareena Gianani is the former Commissioning Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She loves stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall bookshops, old towns and collecting owl souvenirs in all shapes and sizes.