Riders on the storm dream of idlis, we find, and a nice hot tumbler of coffee to jumpstart their engines - but that’s not all there is in this guide to the 25 best places to stop for a meal on your bike route, filtered within the 200-km radius of Bangalore Central. Ghee whiz!
On Hassan Highway: NH 75
Mayura, Bellur Cross, 108 kms from Bangalore Central: The old sentry of NH 75 still holds the fort despite many new pretenders. Prompt service is an additional pleasure; the main event are sann idlis or baby idlis with oodles of ghee, Mayura’s most popular evening snack since before most of the bikers made this their regular route.
Swati Delicacy, 110 kms: This two-storied eatery is packed every weekend, and not just with bikers. Its biggest draws: clean facilities and rava idli. The spicy potato and pea sagoo that goes with these is so popular, the waiters now know to bring to two servings without being asked.
On Kolar Highway: NH 75
Woody’s, 70 kms from Bangalore Central: Woody’s wins major points for its hospitable location: it has been long blessed for its fluffy dosas — reminiscent of the original Woody’s on Commercial Street — by travellers heading to Tirupathi.
Vasudev Adiga’s, 76 kms: Bikers head here because this parking lot is big enough to house every Hell’s Angel, living or ascended to heaven. Several others visit to check out the display of international bikes (so shiny, so chrome!). Every ride up to this sweet spot is rewarded with a frothy cup of filter kaapi, but if you stay a bit longer, a simple filling “veg meals” is good too.
Maiyas, 76 kms: Maiyas, fairly new, comes through with three Bangalore staples — ghee-soaked dosas, a neatly manicured garden where you can drink tea, and fierce competition for the Adiga’s right opposite.
Lakshmi Tiffin Centre, 93 kms: This non-descript canteen is located just a bit after Kolar and is one of the riding fraternity’s best-kept secrets. You too, will be loath to share that aromatic garlic chutney smeared dosa with just anyone. The chai may not be great but you can always ride back to Adiga’s for a quick stop. (Note: If you’re a touristy rider, visit the Virupaksha temple, approximately 7 kms from LTC.)
This non-descript canteen is located just a bit after Kolar and is one of the riding fraternity’s best-kept secrets.
On Mysore Road: NH 275
Malgudi Vattika, 30 kms: Just a little over an hour away from Bangalore, a quaint village setting and rustic lantern-lit dinners makes this a bit more of a destination than the usual biker stop. The food is mostly average, but the paper dosas are a mile long and light enough to aid your flight back to the city.
Raasta Café, 41 kms: Open till 4 am, Raasta Café’s other charms include a large open outdoor garden, a pool table and — if you’re so inclined — hookah. Lots of midnight riders and snackers come here to gear up for the Sunday morning ride.
Indiradhanush, 50 kms: Pull into this family-run restaurant in Ramnagaram for crisp vadas in the mornings and succulent mosru or curd vada in the evenings. Apart from ample parking, the fact that it’s neighbours with Domino’s, KFC, Baskin Robbins and Café Coffee Day should be reason enough to come here. (And you can always pick up Channapatna souvenirs for a reminder of the ride that was.)
Kamath Lokaruchi, 52 kms: One of the largest eateries on this highway, Kamat Lokaruchi gets crowded pretty early in the day, filled with people who want to try its unique cylindrical mudde idli. Biker gang warning: finding parking space to line up all your bikes in a row here is nearly impossible.
Kadambam, 64 kms: The only place serving Iyengari food on the highway, Kadambam falls just after Maddur. Some people argue that the place could do with better upkeep, but everyone agrees that it serves the best sweet pongal on this stretch.
On Chikkaballapur Road: NH 7
Nandi Upachar, 39 kms from Bangalore Central: Ignore the rest of its exhaust-ing menu and go straight for the neer dosa.
Indian Paratha Company – IPC, 44 kms: New on the road? This is the place to be tagged to rev the engine and show off your gear. Passionately shunned as the playground for the ostentatious by our more austere rider pals, regulars say they love it for onion pakora, masala chai, and something called ‘paratha pizza.’ Dough-n’t judge.
NH 7 Refuel, 45 kms: IPC’s major competitor offers a simple north Indian menu: if you’re here for breakfast onion and the egg parathas earn top points from wheelie-dealers. If you’re riding pillion, you could perhaps try their biryani too.
UP Punjabi Dhaba, 45 kms: Just three hundred meters further of NH 7 Refuel is this small miracle, a proper north Indian dhaba run by a Sikh family. They’ll serve up a scrumptious omelette or burji with buttered paranthas and make you wash it down with a tall glass of lassi. Plus you should give your backside a rest on the charpais before the ride back.
Tribal Café, 50 kms: An avid dirt biker with the sobriquet ‘Jungli Sanjay,’ opened Tribal Café a little under a year ago. His salads and fresh European food are a great hit with those who like to travel light. (Don’t make that hipster biker joke. Just don’t.)
On Hosur Road: NH 44, 48 & 38
Ganesh Bhavan, 64 kms from Bangalore Central: Bikers have been known to come to this eatery in Dankanikottai, Tamil Nadu, just for an extended Sunday breakfast outing, but it’s also a perfect pit stop. The locals eat here too — a sure sign of quality — and will recommend piping hot savoury pongal and masala dosai if you ask what’s good.
Saisangeet Veg, 151 kms: A longer ride warrants a heavier meal: say hello and thanks to Saisangeet’s set menu. This unassuming hotel in Dharmapuri is notably clean, and also has an antique store to keep you entertained while you wait for that second coffee.
Ambur Star Biriyani, 161 kms: We’ve already told you the secret of Vaniyambadi biryani. Think of Ambur Star Biriyani as a flashy older cousin, the first to entertain the masses, and now familiar as a chain that’s popular in many parts of Bangalore. Warning: do not eat unless you have somewhere to fall asleep afterwards.
Sarvana Bhavan, 41 kms: No, this isn’t quite the authentic Chennai experience, but the sambar is worthy of its pretender (or pretendee, as is proper in this case).
On Tumkur Road: NH 48
Pavithra Thatte Idli, 59 kms from Bangalore Central: Tucked away on a service road in Kyatsandra, we are given to understand that Pavithra Thatte Idli has never been forgotten by a single rider who’s come here. The thatte or plate idli is a fluffy, flat version of its namesake: at Pavithra, it comes with a generous helping of butter and a coconut chutney so flavourful, you’ll smell it all the way to the end of the road.
On Kanakapura Road: NH 209
Vasu Hotel, 51 kms from Bangalore Central: The median- less Kanakpura stretch is not a route favoured by many riders, but when they do get on NH 209, it’s usually for the Vasu Hotel masala dosa. This fuss-free ‘tiffin room’ opens at6 am and is easy to miss, so look out for its signpost — a flock of locals standing around, chatting over kaapi.
Aunty Maggi, 54 kms: Aunty Maggi is actually a very busy amma with a tiny shack near JIRS who makes a ferocious variety of Maggi snacks, including mirchi and egg, all served with cutting chai. Hai ram(en).
Airlines Hotel, off St. Mark’s Road: Yes we know this isn’t on the highway but this is a great place to spot the prettiest bikes on a Sunday evening while the battru (read waiter) brings your third cup of coffee and second round of masala puri. A stopover at Airlines is a rite of passage for many bikers in the city: it’s where the next ride is always planned, and where secrets about gear and fittings may be exchanged.
Café Coffee Day outlets, Maddur (83 km) and Bellur Cross (106 kms): We didn’t want to put a chain on this list, but both these outlets deserve a special mention, because they were the places that really fuelled the city’s Sunday bike ride craze. Frequented because of their convenient distance from the city, easy parking and sparkling loos, you could do worse if you want a solid mid-day cappuccino and some properly good Mysore roast to put in your saddlebags to take home.
Image Credit: Naveen Gowda. Thanks to Rohit Bilagali, Narayan Deepak, Krishna Prabakar & Howard Calvin for their contributions.
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