Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vada Pav, Misal Pav and South Indian: A Travel Blogger's Food Guide For Pune!

Pune is a city which, like Mumbai, has grown to emulate a cosmic kaleidoscope of cultures, drawing influence from all over India, also the globe. Naturally then, one gets to see taste this cosmic character in its food too.

In spite of this urban influence, what I really like about this city is how it has not outgrown enough to shed its native skin. No matter the multitude of Multicuisine restaurants or the Udipi flavors springing up in the nooks and crannies of the city, Pune still very much continues to delight every visitor with its plethora of Maharashtrian flavors till date.

Rich in simple ingredients and cooked in incredibly original spices, the flavors of Maharashtrian food, ranging from mild to spicy to very spicy, are mind boggling for anyone and everyone pinning their senses on it. All you need to do is step onto its streets and let your nose lead the way. Vada Pav, Ussal, Misal Pav, Kande Pohe, Puran Poli, Modaks – the list of domestic cuisine is simply endless.

I got a taste of the traditional as well as the non-regional and ended up spending a highly appetizing day in Pune. Based on what I liked and where, here’s presenting my Food guide in Pune!

Come along, dig in, take your pick and be prepared to forget about all your diet regimes because with the insanely tasty flavors of Pune, the craving just never ends! Let’s go!!


Arjun Powar of Sri Kala Missal Snacks in Pune, Maharashtra

Arjun Powar - The owner son of Aba Powar sports a friendly smile.

My quest "Where to have Misal in Pune?" took me to Sri Kala Misal, a shop that specializes in spicy Misal Pav – a fiery curry of moth bean sprouts cooked in a freshly ground spice blend topped with a generous helping of crispy-munchy farsaan (Indian fried savoury mixes), chopped onions, freshly cut coriander and a dash of lime eaten along with butter roasted bun breads or pavs.

Aba Powar or Sri Kala Missal Pav Center in Pune Rasta Peth, KEM, Maharashtra

Aba Powar or Sri Kala Misal Center takes pride
in serving one of the BEST versions of Misal Pav in the city.

The place stays especially active in the mornings with a lot of people heading there for their daily meal of the day. The shop is composed of a sit down eatery area and a take away push-cart area outside where 2 guys can be seen neatly doling out plates after plates of Misal incessantly. Though busy and crowded, the eatery is fairly clean and the taste of the misal incredibly good – the same reason why it’s so popular with the locals!

What to eat?

As goes the name, there’s really only one thing you should eat here – Misal Pav, topped with freshly cut onions, served with a mug of hot and spicy curry known as tarri or kut.

The spicy popular regional mix beans curry Missal Pav in Pune, Maharashtra
 The spicy fiery Missal Pav in Pune, Maharashtra

I took a plate of Misal Pav (later added extra pavs to it) and a glass of chaas (buttermilk) along. The misal fare is very very spicy so make sure you team it up with a glass of buttermilk or their home made laddoos, if you are not very spicy-friendly like me.

What caught my eye?

Best part of the restaurant is the rows of insightful posters pasted on the wall that gaze at you while you devour your food.

A poster at Sri Kala Missal Pav Snacks center in Pune, Maharashtra

So much better than staring at a blank wall, isn’t it?

Rough Translation - A man loses his health to acquire money,
and then to regain his health back,
he loses off all of his earned money.
In worrying for the future he loses the present moment,
Hence, he lives neither in the future nor the present,
He lives as if he will never die,
And dies as if he has never lived.

There are fewer combinations that are better than this ‘Food for the stomach + Food for the soul!’

How to get there?

Sri Kala is located in a lane adjacent to the KEM Hospital. Once you get to the hospital, take the Jawaharlal Nehru Road and continue towards the Murlidhar Road. You will find a lot of small-makeshift thelas or pushcarts in the lane leading to Sri Kala.

Timings: Closes by 4 in the evening.

Kande Pohe or flattened rice flakes seasoned with mustard seeds, onions and lemon juice, is another popular and extremely scrumptious option for breakfast in Pune. A lot of stalls spring up in the morning to satiate the hungry palletes of Punekars serving freshly cooked puffed rice, Kande Pohe in make shift street shops that pack up as soon as their lot is over. I happened to find one on my way to Tulsibaug for a reasonable amount of Rs. 15 and I totally loved it!


You can’t travel in Maharastra and not have this quintessential and irresistible, humble man’s food often touted as the Indian styled burger, the Vada Pav. My longing for the same took me to Garden Vada Pav shop in the Camp area.

The place where to eat in Vada Pav in Pune - Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra
People crowd the famous Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra

It’s located in a small older lane of the locality and when I reached there,
I saw a fair crowd of locals gathered around.

There are a couple of tables (sans the chairs) spread just outside the shop where you can enjoy your crunchy, fresh hot and right out of the cauldron - Vada Pavs!

What to eat?

Piping hot breakfast of Pune, Vada Pav's being fried at Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra

You get to enjoy these sights right in front of your eyes with each bite that you take!

The Vada Pav – deep fried spicy potato filled balls coated in a thick gram flour batter coupled with fresh fluffy buns - is their specialty and that’s what we took, a single costing an affordable Rs. 14 (Rs. 12 minus the pav). They also serve the masala taak or masala chaas (buttermilk) but we did not try it.

The Maharastrian popular breakfast at Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra

The vada pavs were spiced up with green chutney
and a few fried chillies as toppings to up that zingy quotient.

I thought these were pretty good but can’t say if these were the best I have had till date. One flipside to them was the missing red lahsun (garlic) chutney which, I think, makes for an essential companion along with the green chutney.

What caught my eye?

What I really liked about this place was the freshness quotient – the vadas are sold out just moments after coming out of the coal-hot cauldron – the place is that crowded with the local people!

Hot and spicy delicious Vada Pav at Garden vada pav in Pune camp, Maharashtra

How to get there?

It is located at Bootee Street in a narrow, cramped lane of the Camp area, right next to JJ garden covering 2 shops with numbers 948 and 949. Take the Dastur Meher Road and keep your eyes open for a big orange board with the name of the shop written in Hindi. The crowd outside gives a good hint too. If you still find a problem locating the place, you can always ask – the place is hugely popular with the locals. SGS Mall is another landmark situated nearby.


The shop remains open from 9 in the morning to 9 in the night.


Maharashtra being one of the leading manufacturers of the ultra sweet Sugarcane, sugarcane juice is one drink that is widely available in all of the state, including Pune. There are two ways of juice extraction here – automated and manual. The manual ones are really fascinating because of their wooden make and labor involved but unfortunately, in the one day trip that I was there, I did not bump in any.

Where to find?

You don’t need to find them. Rather, trust the sugarcane stalls to find you. These are scattered in the byways and streets, so you can choose to stop at one according to your liking.

What to drink?

The natural coolant Sugarcane juice in Pune, Maharashtra

After the heavy dose of all the spicy street food over the day and the weary travelling, a glass of naturally sweet and cool sugarcane juice refreshes me like nothing else. I asked the vendor for an extra dash of ginger and lemon for an added flavor – the cooler was so phenomenal that I couldn’t resist taking another glass full!


After getting a local-regional fill during the day, we decided to go non-regional cuisine in one of the best restaurants in Pune for the night – Vaishali – a celebrated delight for all South Indian food lovers.

One of the most famous eating South Indian joint in Pune - Vaishali Restaurant, FC Road, Maharashtra

It’s the Idli, Medu Vada and Dosas that they are most known for and I was extremely satisfied after filling my stomach tank here. The restaurant is nice, robust and clean, has a good seating area, is always jam packed (I had to wait for over 40 minutes to get a seat!) but if you wait your turn and grab a table (grab is the word because there is no line system!), you will love the food!

What to eat?

The first time I ate at Vaishali, I ordered a round of South Indian fare – Idli and Meduvada – the taste was so good that I almost could not believe that I was sitting in Western India!

Dosa at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra
Idli at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

I saw a lot of people eating the northern delight Sev Puri Chaat (crispy flat fried puris topped with an array of spicy sweet tangy chutneys assembled in a host of colorful veggies and sev) around and that got me curious. I later came to know that it is one of the hot selling items of the hotel, better known as abbreviated SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri Chaat), so I ordered one for myself too and loved it!

North Indian Sev Puri Chaat at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

I washed all of it down with a hot cup of coffee which was another wonderful taste-alike from the southern states of India.

Typical south Indian coffee at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

What caught my eye?

It was interesting to see the waiters taking down orders on their serving tray and not on writing pads as is generally the case.

Unique style of order taking at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

In an age where people are bunking old methods in the name of advancement and technology, I thought this was an amazing idea to go back to our roots of pencil and slate. Not only is this eco-friendly as it saves a lot of paper but it is also cost effective as it requires no techno-additives.

How to get there?

Since Vaishali’s is located at one of the most prime and posh locations of Pune - Fergusson College Road near Deccan Gymkhana - it is extremely easy to trace this eatery. The restaurant is flanked by high end shops and street shops alike that get a lot of attention by the shopaholics of the city. It was a 2 minute walk from my hotel.

Timings: 7 AM to 11 PM

Have you been to Pune?
Eaten at any of these places? If yes, how was your experience?
Any other fine dining restaurants or places to eat in Pune
that you would like to recommend, let me know and
I would love to try the next time I am in the IT city!

Would you like to share this article with your friends?


  1. Pune is indeed a .charming city. You have really done an extensive survey of Pune's incredible eateries and the 'mouthwatering fare they have on offer.

  2. Very tempting! Did try a few of these when I stayed in Pune:)

  3. Arti, I've missed you and no wonder - you've been away eating! I enjoyed this post immensely and am now hungry. However, none of these food options are available to me! One of these days, I'll have to visit India to satisfy my spicy appetites. So many motorbikes, Arti - is that how you travel?

    1. Please do plan a trip to India soon, Barb! And no - I generally travel on foot or by car. Motorbikes are not my kind of thing - as yet. Missed you too and am so happy to hear from you. Keep writing!

  4. Hi Arti: What a mouth watering post. I just can't resist such yummy delicacies being served fresh to you made right in front of you. Loved the way you have described the experience... and that glass of Tea is so inviting... do bring more such posts from places you visit

    1. Thanks a lot, Prasad - and yes, I surely will! :)

  5. This is a mouth watering post. Wondering, what will I eat for lunch today?

    I have been to Vaishali. You are right, they have great food.

  6. loved this post. have been to Vaishalis during my pg days and enjoyed it very much. Lovely pics and detailed post

  7. An interesting post. The foodies, travel enthusiasts, everyone will love it. The photo is inviting as well amazing. Shared. Thank you for this enjoyable write up.

  8. Hi Arti Dear,

    Such scrumptious food in Pune! Misal pav, dahi puri chaat...yumm <3
    I must visit there after reading this post. I just can't resist. LOL
    Am surprised, waiters there write order on the tray rather than on writing pads. Which is so good for a cause. In today's time, with modernisation it's challenging to preserve our ethical values and so far Pune hasn't loose it's grip to it's culture, happy to know that.

    This post brought a refreshment to me. Thanks for sharing :)
    Hope you are doing great.
    Much love!!

  9. oh wow, what a lovely platter of Indian food. I've been missing these for god knows how many years, but very happy to drool over these pictures! I miss vada pav! .

  10. This post is a backpacker's delight :-) and bursting with local flavour!

  11. Arti, So nice post, Thanks for sharing :)

  12. Great food guide, Arti! I can't wait to explore all these places on my next Pune trip. :-)

  13. I was at Pune for two years and loved eating at small restaurants on FC road. Pune is indeed a lovely city and you have covered it really well in the post.

  14. Arti, this is great travel-food guide post. Food images posted above, can make anyone hungry.

    I nominated you for Most Inspiring Blogger Award. You can view your nomination here:

  15. The variety of food is just incredible!!!

  16. I've always heard how magical Pune is. Now I see why!
    I'd be stuffing my face at every turn. Delicious post, Arti!!

  17. I'm so glad I had lunch already. This looks delicious, Arti! What a delicious selection of food. That Vada Pav is mouth watering and I can see why it went out fast. It's been a long time since I've had sugarcane juice and I remember it being so refreshing. Love this post, Arti.

  18. Shall remember all these places next time am in Pune! Thank you!!

  19. great post..Pune has a lot of things to offer in terms of food..I have written about a few on my blog...A typical Maharashtrian Thali is something you should try..
    If you eat meat, there are many other famous places for Kathi Rolls, Biryani, parsi food and so much more..
    We should hook up the next time you are here.

  20. Such a Yum post Arti... Am sorry for myself for not being able to be a regular here , missing out on many things and places :( Though glad I caught this yum-yum one :) I love all these specially the iced cane-sugar juice with fresh mint ...:)
    I am yet learning the seemingly endless varieties of the sev-puris.. and SPDP seemed yet another variant .. :)

  21. I have spent my college life in Pune, and no one can miss Vaishali for snacks and breakfast. But the other places for Misalpav and Vadapav, I will surely try when I visit Pune next time.
    Very interesting and yummy photos.

  22. So many dishes.... Nicely described thru' relevant Photos!

  23. yummilisciousssssssssssssssssss :)

    now i am hungry


  24. All lovely places to eat. I also love Padma Cafe at Law College Road. Yummy simple South Indian snacky food and the best filter coffee I have had in Pune.

  25. I stayed in pune for few months and I can say it is heaven for foody people :) Nice post and tempting pics.

  26. When ever I visit Pune , Misal pao is my favorite snacks in Pune !

  27. Wow..look at all that yummy food !!!! I was in Pune for about an year and the pics brought back a lot of foodie memories.........

  28. Feeling hungry after visiting your blog at this wee hour of morning!

  29. My god...
    So many pictures...
    so much food.
    mouth watering at full swing..

  30. Wow! after reading this post, I really want to visit the place and taste the dishes. The photography was a special catch. I haven't come across many Indian Blogs that pay great attention to photography but looks like it is time to accept that I am wrong. :P
    And I am so hungry after reading this post... hahah. Isn't that what food reviews are meant for?

  31. Arti, there is a restaurant by name Horn Ok Please at Fergusson college road, though they serve regular north Indian food, the ambience is very catchy, in typical dabha style, with quotes on the walls, which usually are seen on the trucks.. Do visit when you are in Pune next time.

  32. So many dishes,This looks delicious, What a delicious selection of food. That Vada Pav is mouth watering

  33. Everything looks so delicious!

  34. some outlets u missed which might be interested to try next time:
    1) Misal : Bedekar(Non-spicy Misal), Shree Upahar Gruh, Shri krishna, Ramnath(Tilak Road)-very spicy
    2)a) Durvankur : Maharashtrian dining hall (Too many things in plate-Especially in Summer unlimited aamras served)
    2)b) Badshahi : Run by Marathi Brahmins : Food quantity is not even half of Durvankur(though quality is good) but I go there sometimes as I like there unique ambiance that resembles like old Marathi house. quality ofcourse is good as its very very old mess
    2)c) Aasha Dining hall: Deccan :Karvari Mess preferred by many Fergusson Alumanies

    3) Bipin Snaks : Deccan(very small outlet)
    4) Abache Canteen : Famous for Khichdi Kakadi(near Deccan gymkhana)
    5) Kayani Bakery : Famous for schreweberry buiscuits
    6) Pushkarni Bhel : Behind Chitale on Bajirao Road
    7) Sujatha Mastani : very unique to Pune resemble to icecream
    8) Pavbhaji : Supreme Pavbahji on JM road
    9) rural Maharashtra food : Girija on Tilak Road
    10) Last but not least : Wadeshwar for Uthhapa, Dosa and Idli ONLY(but please go to small outlet of Wadeshwar near Kelkar Meuseum and not big one at Deccan)

    Pushkarni Bhel, Chitale, Sujatah Mastani, Bedekar Misal all at walking distance from each other

  35. Will have to try the Misal and Vada pau at these joints...We had south indian food at Wadeshwar...pretty awesome!


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