Ayesha Kapur’s guide to Auroville & Puducherry as a local: Food and nightlife

Image courtesy: ©Ayesha Kapur

It is important to note that Auroville is a unique location. It can be a difficult place to understand and get a true sense of, especially as a tourist visiting for the first time and without a local showing you around. A lot of people clump Auroville along with Puducherry, but these two places are actually extremely unique not just in terms of geography but also in terms of vibe, aesthetics, and history.

It is easier to get a sense of Puducherry than Auroville, since Puducherry is state-run and doesn’t really have any restrictions towards visitors, with more information readily available online than Auroville. Both Pondy and Auroville have an excellent assortment of restaurants, stores, and interesting activities and attractions. In this article, as a local “child of Auroville” (which basically means, a local of Auroville), I will share some of my favourite things to do in both Auroville and Puducherry.

Food | Auroville

Some of my favourite restaurants and cafes in Auroville are Naturellement, Bread and Chocolate, Mark’s Coffee, and Aurovelo. La Terrace is also a great option if you know a local Aurovillian or have a guest card.

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Image courtesy: ©Ayesha Kapur

Naturellement Garden Cafe primarily serves Italian food options. The ravioli, galette, and Martina’s special cake are highly recommended. The ambience is lovely; you’ll find plenty of space and a lush green environment to dine in. Plus, there’s an air-conditioned area where you can sit to get away from the heat.

Bread & Chocolate serves both healthy and delicious food. Come here to try the Summertime Tartine, the Miss Saigon Bowl, the Fig & Banana Smoothie, and more. This place is probably one of the more well-known establishments in Auroville, so you will see a large number of tourists here, but it’s also a favourite local hangout for many Aurovillians. If you’re looking to try vegan, gluten free, or healthy food options, this is a great spot to visit. Aside from the healthy food they have the best croissants I’ve ever tried in India! This place does get busy, so try calling ahead of time or during periods when they aren’t so busy.

Mark’s Coffee, like the name suggests, specializes in coffee and serves some of the best coffee in town. They also sell their own ground coffee there. It’s relatively easy to find, just up the road from Bread & Chocolate. My personal favourite drinks there are the americano and the coconut and pomegranate refreshing drinks. They also have plenty of delicious food, snack and dessert options.

Aurovelo is a relatively newer restaurant in town and the concept and food are both great. Here you’ll find a restaurant and cycle store merged into one, with a large outdoor open space where you can sit under shady trees and enjoy your food and drink. The sandwiches here are sublime and they have an impressive assortment of desserts. They also have really cool health drinks for health geeks like me (try the spirulina green juice or the bael juice)!

La Terrace always wins me over with its coffee and its vibe. This is a long-time local favourite hangout and you’re bound to run into old-timer Aurovillians here. It’s a little tricky to order food if you don’t have a guest card, but in my personal opinion, it may just be worth getting a guest card for the sole purpose of being able to hang out here. The cafe is essentially perched upon a sprawling terrace (hence the name). Asides from the terrific coffee, I love being able to have fresh juices, the vegan chocoaltate ice cream, grape popsicle, or the latte macchiatto while sunbathing and enjoying the view.

Food | Puducherry

Image courtesy: ©Ayesha Kapur

Some of my favourite restaurants in Puducherry are La Villa, Palais Du Mahe, PY Cafe, Cafe Des Artes, Villa Shanti and Le Dupleix.

La Villa is one of my favourite spots to have a quiet, elegant meal. It has a beautiful semi-indoor and outdoor area with comfortable seating. One of my favourite dishes on the menu is the Thai curry served in a coconut.

Palais Du Mahe is a hotel within which resides its restaurant. The ambience here is quiet as well, and the restaurant is on the rooftop. My favourite food here is from the Keralan cuisine such as the tamarind flavoured fish curry with appam.

Villa Shanti is a popular spot for locals to get a drink and have a nice evening meal. Mutton roganjosh and the fish options are local favourites.

Cafe Des Artes is another relaxed and laid back spot to hang out in. I recommend going there to check out the boutique shop and to enjoy the funky artwork. In terms of food, I suggest trying the croques, gaspacho soup and baguettes.

Le Dupleix’s courtyard restaurant will give you a stunning sense of the fusion of Tamil and French history and culture in Puducherry. Both the ambience and food is influenced in this way. My favourite options here are the Le Dupleix Salad (with parmesan, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and iceberg lettuce) as well as the seafood platter (for a delicious assortment of fresh seafood) and the bruschetta.

Put in letters for your loved ones in the box to be delivered anywhere in the world
Put in letters for your loved ones in the box to be delivered anywhere in the world
Image courtesy: ©Ayesha Kapur

If you want more of a chilled-out place to hang out, PY cafe is your go-to. The aesthetics here are younger and far funkier. You’ll find quirky motivational quotes on pastel-coloured walls, and cute concepts like a mailbox for love letters that can get shipped anywhere in the world just for you.

The food is delicious and there are plenty of healthy options. Some of my favourite dishes are the zoodles and the eggs benedict on ragi waffles.

Check out Surguru Spot if you want some local South Indian meals.
Check out Coromandel Cafe for their beautiful old colonial-style interiors. It also serves great cocktails and an international cuisine.
I personally have not been to Crepe in Touch but have heard incredible reviews about this small restaurant serving authentic French crepes and salads.

Nightlife | Puducherry

Wednesday Night:
Check out Storytellers bar at The Promenade hotel. Storytellers has a chic, underground vibe (it is literally in a soundproof basement under the hotel). Come here for great cocktails, to dance and to interact with locals. It’s also a great spot on weekends.
Thursday Night:
Most locals meet up at the Shanti Inn rooftop bar on Thursday nights. Here you’ll find a lively scene where you can grab a drink and meet people.
Friday Night:
Ladies night at PY Cafe’s rooftop is the place to be. Grab a cocktail and head to the dance floor or enjoy the fresh air with comfortable seating areas overlooking the city.
Saturday Night:
I’ve never been myself, but I have heard the pub Greasy Tin is a lot of fun and hosts live jamming sessions every Saturday night.

Cheers y’all. Hope all of these tips help and that they make your holiday even more awesome.
Remember though, PY’s speciality is to “give time a break”. So as much as you want to go enjoy your activities and your food, remember to breathe, take a step back and relax.