A quaint French setting, subcontinental aesthetics and a blended cuisine- all together attract travellers to the small Union Territory of Pondicherry, fondly called as Pondy. The internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the town of Auroville, draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors. Thus Pondy’s vibe: less faded colonial-era ville, more bohemian-chic, New Age–meets–Old World hang-out on the international travel trail. While in town, eat at these places for the best cuisine.
Smart candlelit tables in a palm-dotted pillared courtyard attached to a colourful cocktail bar create a casually fancy vibe at this packed-out hotel restaurant, one of Pondy’s hottest dining spots. The building’s contemporary Franco-Indian flair runs right through the North Indian/European menu. While portions are small, flavours are exquisite, and there are some deliciously creative veg dishes.
Simple South Indian in a relatively posh setting. Surguru is the fix for thali (lunchtime only) and dosa addicts who like their veg with good strong AC. The slightly more refined Surguru Spot branch is near the ashram.
A laid-back, health-focused, all-veg hideaway cafe in the hushed garden of a zany design shop, where faded turquoise pillars clash beautifully against red walls. Dig into wholesome muesli breakfasts, build your own sandwich from a choice of breads, fillings and seasonings, or try the creative European-salad ‘thalis’, served traditional-style on stainless-steel dishes. Delicious espresso, smoothies and juices are recommended.
Indian Coffee House
Snack to your heart’s content on pocket-friendly, South Indian favourites – dosas, vadas, uttapams and filter coffee – at this institution. It’s also, incidentally, where Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi begins.
La Pasta World
Pasta lovers should make a pilgrimage to this little Tamil Quarter spot with just a few check-cloth tables, where a real Italian concocts her own authentically yummy sauces and bubbles up her own perfect pasta in an open-plan kitchen as big as the dining area.
Kasha Ki Aasha
A friendly all-female team whips up great pancake breakfasts, lunches and cakes on the thatched rooftop of this colonial-era-house-turned-craft-shop-and-cafe, where fusion food includes ‘European thalis’ and ‘Indian enchiladas’. The floaty fabrics and leather sandals downstairs come direct from their makers. For live music, visit on a Saturday night.
Palais de Mahé
On a magical roof terrace just back from Pondy’s seafront promenade, the Palais de Mahé’s superb, upscale restaurant specialises in ambitious, beautifully presented fusion dishes, best enjoyed alongside a signature Prohibition-inspired cocktail.