North Indian cuisine is synonymous with grease and spice. The dairy-heavy cuisine is a gastronomical roller-coaster which has left fans the world over in its wake. And this heavy, usually unhealthy fare is best enjoyed at the local dhabas, many of whom have become destinations in their own right. Here’s a list of the best ones in North India. Bon Appetit-
1. Old Rao, Dharuhera:
Image Source- Old Rao, Dharuhera
Old Rao’s name may be a misnomer. The place is as modern and quick as eateries get. With both covered AC seating and outdoor seating, and quick service, you can enjoy your meal however you want and be in and out in no time. Very popular with travellers on their way to and from and the locals, for its modest pricing and immodest quantities of dishes, Old Rao is open 24X7 and almost always full of people.
Must Try– Paneer butter masala, tea
Yum Index– 8/10
2. Cheetal Grand, Muzzafarnagar:
Image Source- Cheetal Grand
Travellers driving from Delhi to Haridwar, Rishikesh and Rajaji National Park had long ago uncovered gem that has been gathering rave reviews for nearly a decade now. Cheetal Grand, more a huge café than a dhaba, has a lot going for it. Cheetal Grand has a classy ambience, pleasant service and a choice of menu that has everything from continental to North Indian to popular Indian snacks like pakoras and samosas. Petrolhead alert- The reception area has on display a first-model Triumph, dating back to 1902; don’t dare miss it.
Must Try- Mixed pakoras, butter naan
Yum Index- 7/10
3. Haveli, Jalandhar:
Image Source- Flickr
The one where it all began, the Haveli in Jalandhar was the first in the now-famed chain of Haveli highway-stops cum restaurants. The whole experience here is as authentically Punjabi as it gets- complete with bonafide Punjabi food; quirky Punjabi design elements; and rustic but tasteful decor. The food is to die for (one reviewer mentions that the buttermilk is thicker than even the lassi served elsewhere) and the service is exemplary. Do make a visit; not for nothing is the name so respected.
Must Try- Buttermilk, gol gappas, chhole bhature
Yum Index- 8.5/10
4. Moga Punjabi Tadka, Gajraula:
Image Source- Moga Dhaba, Gajraula
If you’re travelling to Nainital or Jim Corbett sometime soon, make it a point to stop over at Moga Punjabi Tadka near Gajraula for a wholesome meal. This place, Gajraula, is dotted with good eating joints, but Moga takes the cake because of the whole package- food, ambience, and hospitality. The place has an extensive North Indian menu, and almost everything is worth trying, but we being the usual weirdos, recommend Mutter Mushroom, missi roti and their desserts- kheer and kulfi. The food is ample and tasty, and the prices are modest. You don’t mind, do you?
Must Try- mutter mushroom, kheer, heeng raita
Yum Index- 8/10
5. Bharawan da dhaba, Amritsar:
Image Source- Bharawan da dhaba
Bharawan stands for ‘brother’ in Punjabi. And the food here will surely make you feel at home. Since it is located close to the Golden Temple, the offerings here are completely vegetarian. But that seems like a minor distraction once you dig into the food. The sheer quantity and taste of the food here is breathtaking. And the variety of the wholly vegetarian menu is appreciably imaginative. Don’t judge by the hype, let your taste-buds decide. You may never eat non-vegetarian again.
Must Try- Paneer Kulcha, Kadhai Paneer, Dal Tadka
Yum Index- 10/10
6. Puran Singh, Ambala:
Image Source- www.tourmyindia.com
Not many dhabas have specific specialties that they’re known for. Puran Singh belongs to that rare breed. Located on the GT Road near Ambala, about an hour and a half before Chandigarh, Puran Singh is loved by the locals and people from afar alike for its non-vegetarian preparations. Be mindful of the one you visit, as many imposters have sprouted up nearby. Try the mutton curry, kadai chicken and shashi paneer (yeah, the veg fare is good too).
Must Try- Mutton curry, which created the original legend
Yum Index- 8/10
7. Pal Dhaba, Chandigarh:
Image Credit- Dishant Bhasin/Pal Dhaba
Away from all the shiny and, to be honest, nauseating glitz of the city, Pal Dhaba is a legend that has stood the test of time. Look no further than its Wall of Fame pictures and your How’s and Why’s about its acclaim will be answered. Frequented by celebs like Imtiaz Ali, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, the place is renowned for its amazing chicken and mutton preparations. It lacks the usual frills of fancy places. Try the butter chicken, mutton rogan josh, and lachha paratha. You’ll be amazed by the quantity of the food, before you bite into it and sensory pleasure takes over.
Must Try- Butter Chicken, Mutton Curry Meat or Rogan Josh
Yum Index- 9.5/10
8. Giani Da Dhaba, Dharampur:
Image Source- www.40kmph.com
If you’re headed to the hills- Kasauli and Shimla, keep an eye out for this easily overlooked gem. It’s easy to get fooled by the humble exteriors. But the sheer taste of the food served here is sure to leave an impression on you. Giani da dhaba is known for both its vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare, so take your pick.
Must Try- palak paneer, tandoori chicken
Yum Index- 9/10
9. Highway on My Plate, Beas River, Kullu:
Image Source- TripAdvisor
This one is special. This dhaba, Highway on My Plate, is located practically beside the river Beas in Kullu and they offer fish dishes made from freshly caught trout. There are quite a few such eating joints in the vicinity offering this experience, but we liked it best. If you like seafood or even if you don’t mind for once, make sure you indulge in this unique offering. You won’t regret it.
Must Try- Any trout dish (of course)
Yum Index- irrelevant
10. Amrik Sukhdev:
Image Source-Amrik Sukhdev, Murthal
We saved the best for the last. Well, not necessarily the best but the best known. Amrik Sukhdev made dhabas fashionable and created a sensation out of Murthal. Now it is at the focal point of a well-established dhaba business that has mushroomed around it. More of a swanky restaurant now than a dhaba, it is crowded literally round the clock. But it has somehow clung on to its exceptional food and service. Visit Sukhdev for the experience or for the food, it’s nearly the same either way.
Must Try- Aloo Paratha, Lassi
Yum Index- 9/10