Eating Your Way through the French Capital of India, Pondicherry
The union territory of Pondicherry, often referred to fondly as Pondy, has a strong French influence, a fact that hits you as soon as you step foot into the quaint, beach-side, tourist-friendly neighbourhood of the French Quarter. Under the French rule until as recent as 1954, Pondicherry has retained the charm of the former rulers in her heritage buildings and cuisine. Road-side cafes, cobblestoned pathways, yoga centers, and French windows greet you as you walk around this beautiful town, and it is easy to relax and enjoy the laid-back vibe of this bohemian-chic town.
As a tourist, we often visit a place with a list of things to see. We’d like to do things a little differently; we’d like to show how to eat your way around Pondicherry. Brace yourselves, we’re about to go on a drool-worthy adventure.
High on Pizzas: Café Xtasi
This is the most popular pizza joint in Pondicherry, a fact that you will agree with as soon as you bite into a slice of soft, warm, cheesy pizza. There is a high possibility of a pit-stop for a snack turning into a full-fledged meal (it happened to us!) Most of this is courtesy the extensive menu that is laid out in front of you as you sit down at a table in this unassuming yet comfortable pizza parlour. A drool-worthy meal of olives, cheese, and chicken loaded pizza crust will end up being one of the highest points of your trip to Pondicherry, we can guarantee that.
Recommended: Meat Overload
A Dinner fit for Kings: Villa Shanti
High on the must-visit list of every tourist in Pondicherry, we highly recommend you make a reservation before heading in for dinner. Villa Shanti is gorgeous, to say the least; white walls, succulents, palm trees, and pea lights make up the décor of this colonial building. A candlelit dinner made up of some extremely potent cocktails and seafood preparations make this one a meal to remember.
Recommended: Prawn Masala
A Sweet Ending: GMT
Little did we imagine a gelato parlour would stand out on a weekend trip to a beach-town. A casual stroll along the Promenade had us feeling thirsty and tired of the usual coconut water and juices, we decided to walk into GMT, a simple gelato parlour that was bustling with customers. One look at the counter and you’ll know that the crowd is justified. Over 80 flavours of gelato greet you, and you’re spoilt for choice as you run around from the end of the counter to the other for a taste of all the flavours that you’d like to try. Fresh with authentic flavours, a scoop of gelato from GMT is the perfect companion for the stroll post dinner.
Recommended: Chilli Guava
Good Morning: Indian Kaffe Express
Pondicherry wakes up early, so do not be surprised if you see the town hustling around at 7:00 am
The best way to enjoy a beautiful morning in this quaint town is to join the morning cheer with a walk around the beautiful, quiet and peaceful French Quarter, with Indian Kaffe Express as your end destination. Walk into this cute and quirky café and be introduced to one of the best breakfast experiences of your life. Order anything off the breakfast menu, we assure you they’ve got it all on point. We, in fact, fell in love here and ended up visiting the café on all the 3 days of our trip.
Recommended: Scrambled eggs, Paneer stuffed French Toast, Pancakes, Chicken Omelette
A Pit-stop at Auroville: Auroville Bakery
You might want to visit Auroville post breakfast, a journey that will take you 30 minutes on a two-wheeler. While the pizza parlours around Auroville might be a great stopover for lunch, we recommend you stop by for quick bites at the Auroville Bakery since it helps you save time, see more of Auroville and get back to Pondicherry on time for a wholesome meal.
Auroville Bakery is an old-school bakery with a glass counter and open kitchen and chefs bustling around, baking some of the best cakes and breads in town. The comfort of this pit-stop will remind you of the childhood days you spent around your grandmother’s kitchen.
The bakery opens at 6:00 am and shuts at 5:30 pm, and is closed on Sundays.
Recommended: Orange Cake
Evening Snack: Café Des Arts
Here lies the most insta-worthy moments in Pondicherry! A bohemian vibe draws international tourists who can be seen relaxing with a book and a cup of hot coffee. Low tables, lounge chairs, a quirky cycle rickshaw in the garden in this townhouse add to the quirky décor, and the menu lists items perfect for a quick snack.
Recommended: Banana and Cinnamon crepes
A Royal Setting: Le Duplex
A heritage hotel with a romantic setting, Le Duplex is an extremely popular spot for dinner, and we highly recommend making a reservation before going. This colonial house was once the home of the mayor of Pondicherry during the French rule. Fortunately, the charm and aesthetic of this bungalow are yet maintained, providing a perfect setting for an intimate dinner with your loved ones. Enjoy a pleasant night out with a dinner in the courtyard at Le Duplex, or opt for the inner dining room if you’re in the mood for something cozy. Order one of the wine bottles from the wine cellar, and enjoy a beautiful, cozy night at this colonial bungalow.
Recommended: Poricha Kozhi, Spaghetti Beef Bolognese
A Lunch in a Courtyard: Carte Blanche
Carte Blanche is a restaurant unit of the gorgeous chain of heritage hotels, the Neemrana group. A lunch on a sunny day in the brightly lit, plant-filled courtyard of this café will take you to a place somewhere along the French coast, with some of the best French cuisines in Pondicherry to keep you company.
Recommended : Ratatouille, Glace Vanille
A Beautiful Goodbye: Bay of Buddha
End your trip in Pondicherry with a beautiful meal at the rooftop restaurant at the Hidesign hotel. The sea-facing property makes for a calm, romantic setting as you enjoy a candle-lit dinner of fine oriental food. The sound of the waves in the distance, a view of the pier and lighthouse and lights along the Promenade makes this a memorable dinner spot for tourists.
You might visit Pondicherry for the French aesthetic, but you will definitely be coming back for the food. And you know what they say- calories do not count when you’re on vacation!