The tiny little coastal hamlet tucked on the shores of Bay of Bengal is heaven for any traveler, explorer, adventure-seeker, or someone with a wanderlust. And if you are true gastronomic, then Pondicherry is sheer happiness. Nestled among the cozy, colorful houses and winding cobbled roads, are innumerable cafes, eateries, and plush diners offering the best culinary savoir-faire one can find. While you are traveling and exploring all the natural and man-made wonders of Pondicherry, you cannot but miss taking a walk down the food trails of this international Indian locale.
The best way to travel to Pondicherry is via Chennai, the closest metro and well-connected to all other cities of India. You can opt for a car rental in Chennai and reach Pondicherry in less than three and a half hours via East Coast Road.
The gourmet trail
The early French, Vietnamese, Portuguese, and Tamil settlers had endowed Pondicherry with an eclectic mix of cuisines, handed down through generations. While many restaurants are gifts of modern civilization, some classic eateries continue to serve those with a penchant for tradition. If you want to go on a dedicated food trip, opt for a taxi service in Pondicherry to take you around town and stop over at your place of choice.
Here are a few places that should make to your food map:
Villa Shanti: Suffren Street
A 16th-century French mansion converted into a classic, fine dining restaurant, Villa Shanti is everything vintage. From its eclectic décor to the dining menu, you will find a touch of heritage in every corner. Do try their freshly baked bread with homemade butter, and signature dishes like the grilled chicken with orange juice, lemon rice and fish, and caramel custard. They use only fresh and organic ingredients which makes it a wholesome dish and a flavorful dining experience. Located in the old French town, Villa Shanti is a must-visit in Pondicherry.
Grand Bakery: Mission Street
When it comes to baked goodies, the ground rule is- the older the bakery, the better. Grand Bakery has been serving the people of Pondicherry for 50 years and more and still manages to make every confection-lover fall in love with their offerings. Everything at the bakery, from the hot-off-the-oven buns, crispy biscuits, and cookies, to the decadent cakes, and the puff pastries, are hand-made using home-style recipes. Be sure to put on a few pounds once you make a trip to the Grand Bakery.
Le Café: Beach Road
A café by the sea is the ultimate place to savor a cup of coffee by the beach. Le Café serves the most aromatic, organic, and freshly-brewed coffee in town. To go with your hot cuppa, the cozy eatery also has savories, French pastries, and confections on their menu.
Surguru: Mission Street
The other side of Pondicherry’s food fare is all about traditional South Indian cuisines, brought to the city by its early Tamil resident. A pure vegetarian eatery, Surguru serves the quintessential ‘thali’.
Le Vietnam: Bussy Street
Both Vietnam and Pondicherry have an ancient French connection, which brings you the flavors of Vietnam right in the town of Pondicherry. Le Vietnam is all about classic Vietnamese delicacies like chaiyos (traditional spring rolls), pho (noodle soup), and bo bun (rice vermicelli soup with beef and peanuts).
Hotel De L’Orient: White Town
Housed in an 18th- century French mansion, this hotel-café is truly a rendezvous with Creole cuisine- probably one of the handful of places in India which serve authentic Creole food. Creole cuisine originated with the French and Spanish explorers to Southern United States (Louisiana) and blends French, Spanish, West African, Amerindian(Native American), French Antilles, Haitian, German, and Italian influences. And Rendezvous Café brings those distinctive recipes recreated for the modern gourmet.
A trip well-made is when one is well-fed. And the quaint sea-town of Pondicherry makes sure her every traveler is not only fed well but memorably so!