There are few of life’s mishaps that a good plate of food cannot mend. And while first-time visitors to Lonavala are usually harangued about ticking the classics off their list: peanut chikki at Maganlal Chikki, chocolate fudge at Cooper’s Fudge, breakfast at German Bakery or tandoori fare at Lonavala’s Restaurant & Bar —and justifiably so. These are all food legends, but the city has far more to offer. Here’s a more updated list of some of the best restaurants that you should visit both in the city. That’s not all. We have a few recommendations for those people who are looking to drive down from Mumbai as well.
Excited? Well let’s start.
Golden Wada Pav
If you ask a localite where they go to get a vada pav, you will most probably end up at Golden Wada Pav, even though you will have to put up with a lot of mumbling and grumbling about fat queues and traffic jams. Admittedly, to the unaware eye, it’s a blink-and-miss shop on NH4, although the long line and a lone man continuously frying vadas, bhajiyas, moong dal pakodas, samosas and jalebis. The pakodas are great but it’s the Jain (garlic-free) vada pav that everyone files up for. The secret is in the fiery thecha chutney, which is used liberally to flavor the potato patty. All that’s left to do is batter it, fry and bite.
What to Eat: The Jain pakodas, chaat and pani-puri are a definite must-try from here
Price: INR 100 for two people approx.
For people in Mumbai, fudge is Cooper’s and Cooper’s is fudge. And this is because 85 years ago, Lonavala’s founding ‘fudge’ father Noshir Cooper struck chocolate walnut heaven with his-still secret recipe. These days, the current keeper of the prized-formula is niece Rashna Phiroze Irani who plans to pass the mantle to her daughter Marzia. With no outlets or expansion plans, this delightful heaven for those with a sweet tooth, this shop should be on the top of your to-visit store while in the city.
Available in quarter, half and one kilo (INR 1,200) in signature white and red boxes with an ergonomically designed flat fudge spoon, the crushed walnuts, cocoa powder, drinking chocolate, sugar and maybe milk treat makes for the perfect take-away.
What to Eat: Chocolate fudge
Price: INR 1200 for two people approx.
Started as a charming mom-and-pop (now grandma and grandpa), this family run hotel began as a bungalow shop in 1962. Think of it as an up-market Friends Union Joshi Club with all the frills, a thali here will set you back by only INR 350. Today, the hotel is run by the couple’s son, although his parents are always there to welcome the weekend crowds, who are zipping in and out of the kitchen.
What do we love most? Besides the spot-on traditional Gujarati seasonal preparations like undhiyu, there is always an element of fusion on the thali. It’s fulfilling and hearty at the same time, highly recommended.
What to Eat: Gujarati Thali, Aamras, Gujarati Food, Kheer, Kachori, Halwa
Price: INR 800 for two people approx.
Blue Water, Pune
Good ambiance plays a huge role when it comes to the perfect dining experience. And that is why this place definitely merits a visit! With so many seating options available to you – ground area is awesome if you’re in a group and want to watch a match together, relax with your drink of choice or even enjoy a weekly Ghazal performance. The upstairs area is covered and again very comfortable. On any given day of the week, you are sure to find some sort of activity, a musical performance by a band or even solo specials. If you are a solo traveller, come here to meet the locals.
What to Eat: Butter Chicken, Paneer Masala, Prawns Butter Garlic, Desserts, Continental
Price: INR 1,500 – 1,800 for two people approx.
The Kinara Village Dhaba, Lonavala
If you’re into North Indian cuisine and love the regal spread of all things good in this world, make sure you visit this dhaba. Close to Karla Caves, this restaurant has a rustic vibe. With its shamiana tents with fairy lights, swings and diwans, and even live music nights, head here during the evening.
What to Eat: Crispy Chicken, Sweet Lassi, Sarson Ka Saag, Butter Chicken, Paneer Butter Masala
Price: INR 1,300 for two people approx.
V Tip: If you are headed to Lonavala in the coming weeks, bookmark V Resorts Lonavala which is located in a peaceful neighbor-hood. Barely one kilometre away from the Mumbai Pune Expressway, the resort is an ideal base for all types of travellers. Whether you want to visit the nearby wax museums or just take a dip in the resort’s pool, there is something here for everyone.