Fancy a trip back in time? To the days before TV and multiplexes? Days when everyone (mostly) cycled to work and school, week-long weddings, picnics in the park and food that did not come out of a box? If only you had Michael J Fox’s De Lorean and Doc Brown to help!

But worry not, you can still get a peep back in time with India’s most famous pre-independence eateries that are still around (and doing roaring business!) Sprinkled across the country, these iconic pre-independence eateries are mostly located in what were ‘proper’ cities back then.

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Here are some of our favorites best restaurants in India:

1. Karim’s in New Delhi

Karim’s in New Delhi

Karim’s in New Delhi | #1 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Started by Haji Kareemuddin in 1913, Karim’s has been synonymous with delectable Mughlai cuisine in India. Many a 5-starred establishment has showcased the cuisine of the emperors but you’ll keep coming back to Karim’s for its sumptuous cooked-all-night Nihari for breakfast, the really rich Badam Pasanda, Paya and the Chicken Jehangiri. Karim’s began as a small place in Galli Kababian in Jama Masjid and has today spread out to several locations. Legend has it that the original cooks at Karim’s came from the royal kitchens of Shah Jahan and Bahadur Shah Zafar! How’s that for iconic?

  • Average cost: ₹800 for two people

2. Indian Coffee House in Kolkata

Indian Coffee House in Kolkata

Indian Coffee House | #2 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Some intellectualism over omelets and hot coffee? Head to the Indian Coffee House on the (equally iconic) College Street in Kolkata where for over a 100 years personalities like Rabindranath Tagore and Subhash Chandra Bose have done exactly the same. High-ceilinged and unpretentious, the Indian Coffee House is not really known for its delicious food but as a part of our heritage. The perfect place to do some typical Kolkata adda-baji (your food will take at least a half hour to appear), have your stare-into-space moments without anyone caring and to become a part of history, this coffee house is one of the most loved eateries from the pre-independence era.

  • Average cost: ₹ 200 for two people

3. Britannia and Co. in Mumbai

Britannia and Co. in Mumbai

Britannia and Co. | #3 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

If you’ve ever been to Mumbai, at least one person (usually more) has told you to not leave without a tummy full of the ‘berry pulao’ at Britannia’s. They’ll tell you the owner, Boman Kohinoor imports the berries from Iran. The only way to find out is to go to Ballard Estate, where this iconic eatery is located and order this famed dish (also the salli boti and the caramel custard) do be quick since the restaurant is open only till about 4 pm! Atmospheric and warm, Britannia has barely changed since the day it first opened to British officers stationed in the area. It even has the original Brentwood furniture from Poland, imported by the previous generation! In the face of the dwindling number of authentic Irani restaurants in Mumbai, Britannia holds its own, partly due to its simple yet delicious Irani and Parsi (courtesy Boman’s late wife, Bachan, who was a Parsi) dishes, its international fame and ultimately the octogenarian Boman Kohinoor, who makes sweet small talk with you, often takes your order and insists on you having a fresh lime soda, whether you want it or not. You’ll ultimately fall for it.

  • Average cost: ₹1000 for two people

4. Glenary’s in Darjeeling

Glenary’s in Darjeeling

Glenary’s | #4 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

When someone says Darjeeling you instantly think of tea, right? But once you’ve been to the quaint and atmospheric Glenary’s, you’d think of the bakery’s delish cakes, muffins and chocolates too. Just a short distance from the Mall, Glenary’s was originally named Vado, after its Italian owner, nearly a 100 years ago. It changed hands (and names) a few times before finally being owned by the family of the late A T Edwards, a local person. The place has seen many renovations but still retains the charming old world, peaceful element that makes it memorable.

  • Average cost: ₹1000 for two people

5. Leopold Café & Bar in Mumbai

 Leopold Café & Bar in Mumbai

Leopold Café & Bar | #5 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Even the raining bullets by terrorists in the 2008 Mumbai attacks could not shut the Leopold Café down. Neither have the ravages of time. Because the café that was started right after the 1857 mutiny is still standing strong on its feet. It is still belting out delicious food, a warm, happy atmosphere conducive to hours of conversations between friends. And it’s been in the same spot in the bustling Colaba neighborhood of Mumbai. You can’t make a visit to Mumbai without having a drink, a bite to eat at this iconic pre-independence era restaurant. Go, try it for the atmosphere!

  • Average cost: ₹1,500 for two people

6. Flurys in Kolkata

Flurys in Kolkata

Flurys | #6 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Set up way back in 1927 by a Swiss couple – Joseph and Frieda Flury – Kolkata’s iconic ‘tea-shop’ is all grown up now in its 91st year. But you couldn’t tell it’s that old looking at its mouth-watering treats – boozy plum cakes, rum balls and flaky patties among others – that ensure there’s a snaking queue outside its doors every weekend. And especially before Christmas. Set in the glamorous heart of the city, Park Street, Flurys holds sentimental value for every Kolkatan – this is the place many went to on their first dates, met old, long-lost friends at and generally had a good time. Visit it simply because legends must be paid due respect. It is another matter you’ll convert into a life-long admirer with just one trip as did the celebrated filmmaker Satyajit Ray!

  • Average cost: ₹1000 for two people

7. Mylai Karpagambal Message in Chennai

Mylai Karpagambal Message in Chennai

Mylai Karpagambal Mess | #7 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

The place serves food on banana leafs and can fit only 50 people in one go. But Mylai Karpagambal is revered. For its traditional recipes that have been the same for the last 65 years since the establishment started (the original ones by the owner Mr. Prabhu’s grandma!), for its quick and efficient meals and for the true blue Madras experience it offers.

  • Average cost: ₹200 for two people 

8. Delhi Mishthan Bhandar in Shillong

Shillong in Delhi

Delhi Mishthan Bhandar | # 8 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Right here is a little whiff of Chandni Chowk in faraway Shillong! The Delhi Mishthan Bhandar has been regaling the good folk of the city with finger lickin’ choley bhature, gulab jamuns and cutlets since 1930. In 2008 they made the largest ever jalebi and got themselves a place in the Guinness Book of World Records (a whopping 75 inches and 15 kg in weight!) Located in Downtown Shillong, in the popular Police Bazaar, the Delhi Mishthan Bhandar has a dedicated section for treating your sweet tooth. They’ve got to be good, they’ve been at it for 88 years!

  • Average cost: ₹400 for two people

9. Favourite Cabin in Kolkata

Favourite Cabin in Kolkata

Favourite Cabin | #9 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Started by Nutan Chandra Barua and his elder brother Gaur Chandra Barua in 1918, Favourite Cabin is at best nondescript. A few wobbly chairs and marble tops that have seen better days. But this is one of Kolkata’s favorite haunts! Why? It was once the favored adda (place) for freedom fighters (the owners were great supporters of the Swadeshi Movement) and was the epicenter of great debate and discussion on the subject. Visit it for its historic value and a glimpse into pre-independence India.

  • Average cost: ₹400 for two people

10. Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwawala in Mumbai

Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwawala in Mumbai

Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwawala | # 10 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

It’s just a little sweet shop in Mahim, Mumbai. But it’s been making and selling an awesome halwa for the last 200 years! Founded by Giridhar Mavji, this is a quaint little place that has been going about its business quietly for 2 centuries and deserves a mention in this list not just for its mouthwatering halwa made differently from the traditional one, but for the loyalty shown to it by generations of patrons.

The halwa made by rolling out a cooked mixture of wheat, sugar and ghee in the form of sheets that is cooled and cut into delicate squares has earned its own name too – Mahim Halwa. Other delicacies to try here are the malai peda, srikhand, kaju roll and the milk cake.

  • Average cost: Between ₹600 and ₹1200 per kg

11. United Coffee House in New Delhi

United Coffee House in New Delhi

United Coffee House | #11 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Founded in 1942, United Coffee House was one of the first few restaurants to offer fine-dining in the capital city. And dilliwalas are sentimental about stuff like that! Retaining its pre-independence era charms, this warm and welcoming place, tucked away in Connaught Place, is the regular haunt of diplomats, businesspersons and tourists. A classy eatery, United Coffee House serves more than just coffee – classic continental dishes, Mediterranean cuisine and Indian favorites.

  • Average cost: between ₹2,100 for two people

12. Tunday Kababi in Lucknow

Tunday Kababi in Lucknow

Tunday Kababi | #12 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

You have to have heard about Tunday Kababi! If you haven’t, count yourself off the foodie list! Because this iconic eatery, established by Haji Murad Ali in 1905, continues to regale the epicurean with its scrumptious, delectable kababs that have no match. The founder was short of one arm and hence nicknamed tundey, giving this pre-independence era gem its name. Walk in the original spot in the Phool Wali Galli in Chowk in old Lucknow or one of its many franchises across the country and sample a plateful of unforgettable kebabs.

  • Average cost: ₹300 for two people

13. Dorabjee & Sons in Pune

Dorabjee & Sons

Dorabjee & Sons | #13 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Is Parsi food your weakness? Then there’s nothing better than digging into a hearty meal at Dorabjee & Sons in Pune. Started as a small tea stall in 1878 by Dorabjee Sorabjee, the place gained recognition soon after it was expanded to a traditional Parsi restaurant.

With a simple ambience and minimalistic interior and seating, the restaurant has beautifully preserved its vintage charm, and that is what helps it stand out from the rest. Tucked away in a small corner in Pune Cantonment, the restaurant is perfect for a cosy dinner with family and friends. And once you visit the place, the freshly made and piping hot Parsi dishes like Dhansak, Patra Fish and Chicken will Salli, will keep you coming back for more.

Average cost: ₹ 600 for two people

14. Mavalli Tiffin Room in Bangalore

Mavalli Tiffin Room

Mavalli Tiffin Room | #14 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Famed for being the oldest idli dosa restaurant in the city, Mavalli Tiffin Room or MTR is one of the best places to relish authentic Udupi cuisine in the city. It was set up like a small restaurant by Parameshwara Maiya and his brother Ganappayya Maiya in 1924 and there was no looking back. If you like Rava idli, here’s an interesting fact for you.  This soft and steamed breakfast item was invented by MTR during World War II when there was a significant shortage of rice supply. The lip-smacking food coupled with high standards of cleanliness and hygiene made the eatery so popular that customers would wait for hours on the pavement just for a hearty meal here. And when the restaurant was temporarily closed in the 1970s due to the state of emergency in the country, it came up with another interesting business option in the form of ready-to-make mixes of idli and dosa. Mavalli Tiffin Room is the place where the popular brand MTR Foods originated.

Average Cost: ₹ 250 for two people

15. Rayar’s Mess in Chennai

Rayar’s Mess

Rayar’s Mess | #15 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

If you are keen to gorge on fluffy idlis and crispy vadas in Chennai, do visit Rayar’s Mess in Mylapore. Established by Srinivasa Rao in the 1940s, this small eatery, with its pre-independence-era charm, is situated in a small corner of Mylapore. Besides being popular for serving delicious South Indian food for decades, the restaurant is also known for the cleanliness it maintains. Hence, although a small eatery, Rayar’s Mess has seen many famous faces over the years. When in Chennai, make sure you visit this cosy eatery for hot food and fresh chutneys served on neatly cut banana leaves.

Average Cost: ₹ 150 for two people

16. Bharawan Da Dhaba in Amritsar

Bharawan Da Dhaba

Bharawan Da Dhaba | #16 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Started in a tent in 1912, this popular Dhaba in the vibrant city of Amritsar is synonymous with traditionally prepared and delectable Punjabi food. Thanks to the unwavering dedication and passion of the owner Jagannath Vij, the eatery successfully survived the economic turmoil of the Indo-Pak wars and became a popular name in the city over time.

The Dhaba, which is now an air-conditioned eatery near Town Hall, is managed by the founder’s grandson. Thanks to its heritage flavours and pure vegetarian Punjabi cuisine, Bharawan Da Dhaba has been delighting foodies for over a century. Owing to its proximity to the well-known Golden Temple, the eatery sees many dignitaries, Bollywood actors and foreign tourists almost every day.

Average Cost: ₹ 500 for two people

17. Shri Sagar in Bangalore

Shri Sagar

Shri Sagar | #17 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

There’s nothing better than starting your day with a scrumptious breakfast at Shri Sagar restaurant. In fact, Bangaloreans can vouch for it. Also known as CTR (Central Tiffin Room), this iconic eatery on the 7th Cross Road in Malleshwaram locality was established in 1940. It boasts a perfect blend of vintage charm and modern amenities and is one of the best places in the city to relish authentic South Indian delicacies. The eatery is a delight for dosa-lovers especially. Its appetising masala dosas, particularly Benne Masala Dosa,cooked with generous amounts of melted butter and served with spicy coconut chutney and potato palya, is a must-try. And that’s not all. Offering fluffy idlis, the low-calorie Kali Dosa, the smooth and Kesari Chow Chow Bhath, crispy vadas, and filter coffee – the place has a host of amazing options.

Average Cost: ₹ 200 for two people

18. Pancham Pooriwala in Mumbai

Pancham Pooriwala

Pancham Pooriwala | #18 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Nestled amidst the lively streets of Mumbai, this popular eatery is where you relish hot and crispy pooris. This iconic eatery was started in 1848 as a puri-bhaji stall by Pancham Sharma outside Victoria Terminus, now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Hailing from Agra, the owner came to Mumbai on a bullock cart before train services were started in the country. The restaurant rose to fame over the years and is now a two-storey eatery that has supported six generations of his family.

When you visit this eatery, you will notice that the standard plate of puri-bhaji is served with five puris. This tradition was started by the owner himself, as Pancham means five. Although it has a simple setup with classic steel seats and marble tiles, this iconic restaurant attracts diners from all walks of life and serves over 500 people every day. Many famous personalities, including The Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi, Rajesh Khanna, and George Fernandes, have dined here.

Average Cost: ₹ 300 for two people

19. Vidyarthi Bhavan in Bangalore

Vidyarthi Bhavan

Vidyarthi Bhavan | #19 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Established in 1943 by Venkataramana Ural, Vidyarthi Bhavan was originally a small eatery catering to students in nearby schools. This heritage restaurant flourished over the years and became a popular name in the city. Although the eatery’s ownership changed in 1970, the name, recipes and traditions remained the same. Today, the restaurant is famous for its crispy butter masala dosa and other flavourful South Indian vegetarian snacks, like Rava vada, idli and poori sagu, among others. While the interiors have been upgraded a bit for comfort reasons, the restaurant has been maintaining the same food quality and flavour for around 80 years now. And once you taste the masala dosa here, you will certainly come back for more.

Average Cost: ₹ 200 for 2 people

20. Nizam’s Restaurant in Kolkata


Nizam’s | #20 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Set up by Raza Hassan Saheb in 1932, Nizam’s Restaurant in Kolkata is known for making the first kathi rolls in the city. There’s an interesting story behind the origin of this delectable street food – a foreigner visited the restaurant and wanted a light and dry takeaway that could be eaten without making a mess. Hence, the restaurant made the usual kebabs but wrapped them in parathas so they could be consumed on the go. The delicacy was known as rolls initially.

The name kathi was added to it in 1964 when the restaurant replaced iron skewers with bamboo sticks (kathi) to grill the kebabs. Till date, the eatery continues to be a big name in Kolkata. And if you are in the city, your trip will be incomplete without tasting the kathi rolls at this iconic pre-independence era eatery. In addition to vegetarian and non-vegetarian rolls, the restaurant’s impressive Mughlai menu is a delight for foodies.

Average Cost: ₹ 500 for two people

21. Hari Ram & Sons in Allahabad

Hari Ram & Sons

Hari Ram & Sons | #21 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

One of the oldest street food shops in the city, Hari Ram & Sons is a popular name among locals, tourists, renowned personalities and almost everyone who loves street food. This old eatery, located in the Chowk area of Allahabad, was started way back in 1890. It is known for its lip-smacking snacks prepared in pure desi ghee as well as other delicacies like masala samosas, chaat, palak ki namkeen and khasta kachori, to name a few. Although more than a century old, the restaurant continues to get stronger by the day. Do grab a bite here whenever you are in Allahabad next and you will know why it’s worth the hype.

Average Cost: ₹ 200 for two people

22. Shaikh Brothers Bakery in Guwahati

Shaikh Brothers Bakery

Shaikh Brothers Bakery | #22 of 22 Best Restaurants in India

Guwahati, a popular city in North-East India, also brags a pre-independence-era bakery and eatery, called Shaikh Brothers Bakery, in the Panbazar locality. It was established in 1885 by Shaikh Ghulam Ibrahim, a youth from Bengal, who went to Assam for some construction work. Since his family was already managing a thriving bakery business in Kolkata, he soon realised the potential of setting up a bakery in Assam.

The bakery rose to fame quickly and was also a favourite among the British governors of Assam. They preferred the soft bread from this “Gohati bakery” over other locally available options. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was reportedly fond of the bakery’s cheese straws, while his daughter Indira Gandhi would get fresh loaves of bread baked and packed here during her visits to Guwahati. Even after a century, the charm of this iconic bakery prevails. Apart from delectable cakes, biscuits and bread, you can also relish a range of sweets, fast foods and namkeens here.

Average Cost: ₹ 200 for two people

There are so many more restaurants and eateries in nearly every region in India that should be on this list. Some other mention-worthy places are: Hariram and Sons in Allahabad, the 125-year-old Shaikh Brothers Bakery in Guwahati, Moti Mahal in Delhi, Shri Sagar, better known as CTR in Bengaluru and Chafekar Dugdha Mandir in Nagpur among a host of others.

Tell us in the comments below if you know of one in your city and if you’ve been to any of these in our list. How’s that for a taste of nostalgia?