Best restaurants in Kerala

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kochi (Cochin)

    Kashi Art Cafe

    Fort Cochin's original (and best) art cafe, this fashionable, natural-light-filled space has a Zen vibe, a creeping vertical garden and stylish wood tables spreading out into a courtyard dotted with contemporary artwork. The coffee is strong, organic ingredients are used wherever possible, and the luscious breakfasts and lunches are excellent (French toast, home-baked cakes, creative salads). The gallery highlights local artists.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kochi (Cochin)

    Malabar Junction

    Set in an open-sided pavilion or at candlelit poolside tables, this outstanding restaurant at Malabar House is (almost) Bollywood-star glam. The ambitious East-meets-West menu creatively fuses local and European flavours – the signature dish is the seafood platter (₹3200), or try an elegant 'trilogy' of Indian curries. An impressive choice of Indian wines (Sula, Fratelli, Grover Zampa) accompanies meals. Upstairs, the DiVine wine bar serves upmarket tapas-style snacks and wines by the glass.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

    Villa Maya

    Villa Maya is more an experience than a mere restaurant. Dining is either in the magnificent 18th-century Dutch-built mansion or in private curtained niches in the tranquil courtyard garden. The Keralan cuisine is expertly crafted, delicately spiced and beautifully presented. Seafood is a speciality, with dishes like stuffed crab with lobster butter, though there are some tantalising vegetarian offerings, too. Ask the friendly staff for a free tour of the manor.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kovalam

    Bait

    Designed as an upmarket alfresco beach shack, the fabulous seafood restaurant at the Taj Green Cove fronts the sea, with waves and palms on one side and chefs in a semi-open kitchen on the other. Seafood and spicy preparations are as glorious as the blazing sunsets, including delicious fresh fish or tofu steak soaked in 'Kerala coast' spices, with Maharashtrian Sula wines. Light snacks are served between lunch and dinner.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Varkala

    Soul Food Cafe

    Fresh local ingredients fuel inspired, artfully prepared dishes at the beautifully located clifftop garden cafe at Soul & Surf. Here zingy mezze platters arrive with mini pappadams and slithers of chapati, coffee is sourced from South India's Western Ghats, and Kerala favourites on the short-but-sweet menu include meen pollichathu (steamed banana-leaf fish). It's usually busy with yogis and surfers. Free water refills.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kozhikode (Calicut)

    Paragon Restaurant

    Join the inevitably long queue out the door at this always-packed restaurant, founded in 1939. The overwhelming menu is famous for its legendary chicken biryani and fish dishes – such as pollichathu or molee (fish pieces in coconut sauce). Also has an air-con room (from noon only). The team also runs busy-busy Salkara at Calicut train station.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kovalam

    Varsha

    In the lanes behind southern Lighthouse Beach, this little restaurant plates up some of Kovalam's best vegetarian food at reasonable prices, in a simple garden-like space with sandy floors, plastic chairs and a few potted plants. Dishes are fresh and carefully prepared, including spicy masala dosa and a deliciously light off-menu pumpkin-and-spinach curry. Particularly great for breakfast and lunch.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

    Ariya Nivaas

    Trivandrum's best all-you-can-eat South Indian veg thalis mean long-running Ariya Nivaas is always busy (especially at lunchtime), but service is snappy and the food fresh. There's an air-con dining room upstairs.

  • Restaurants in Alappuzha (Alleppey)

    Chakara

    Opposite the beach, this elegant restaurant at the 1860s heritage-style Raheem Residency is Alleppey’s finest. It has seating on a bijou open-sided terrace reached via a spiral staircase (though the sea views are now mostly blocked by a flyover). The menu creatively combines Keralan and European cuisine, specialising in local seafood; try the Alleppey fish curry or paneer-cashew curry. Indian wines, Goan port and beer are all served, too, as are mini Keralan meals (₹350). In the fairy-lit garden below is the equally popular Harbour Restaurant, with a similar menu and deliciously cool beers.

  • Restaurants in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

    Padmavilasom Palace

    At elegant, history-rich Padmavilasom Palace, Kerala's traditional vegetarian sadya (banquet) is delivered in all its banana-leaf sumptuousness within the courtyards of an exquisitely restored 19th-century ammaveedu (royal residence for consorts of the Travancore maharajas). Freshly prepared curries, rice, chutneys, pappadams and more are laid out for lunch, while breakfasts revolve around gourmet South Indian thalis. Upstairs are two beautifully historical suites.

  • Restaurants in Kochi (Cochin)

    Grand Pavilion

    The restaurant at the Grand Hotel is as elegant and retro-stylish as the hotel itself, with cream-coloured furniture and chequered floors. It serves a tome of a menu that wanders from North India to South India and most of the rest of the Asian continent, as well as featuring Continental favourites, Malayali classics and Indian wines by the glass. Out the back, Couchyn is one of Ernakulam's most refined bars.

  • Restaurants in Kochi (Cochin)

    Qissa Cafe

    Usually packed with fashionable Kochiites, Qissa channels a cosmopolitan scene with its mismatched pastel-painted chairs, outdoor garden and buzzy atmosphere. Come for the homemade cakes, brunch-type snacks (avocado toast has arrived!), stuffed omelettes, heartier creations like lemon-pesto pasta, and chilled fresh juices and lemonades presented in jam jars. Good coffee and tea too. Also at No 18 is Fort Cochin's first club, Clubb18.

  • Restaurants in Kochi (Cochin)

    Malabar Grills

    Join feasting Indian families at this sprawling modern restaurant fronted by a barbecue just southeast of Fort Cochin's tourist centre. Breakfasts (₹30 to ₹80) are classic South India: puttu, iddiyappam (a rice noodle dish), dosa, idli with sambar (soupy lentil dish with vegetables). Later, the focus turns to thalis (₹90 to ₹140), biryanis and, especially, grilled meats and seafood. The signature is the ₹1300 seafood platter.

  • Restaurants in Kochi (Cochin)

    Ginger House

    Hidden behind a massive antique-filled godown (warehouse) is this wonderful waterfront restaurant, where you can relax over fresh juices and punchy Indian dishes and snacks (including a deliciously creamy cashew-paneer curry). Walk through the priceless Heritage Arts showroom (check out the giant antique snake-boat canoe) to reach it. Ginger House is also an eight-room museum hotel fusing heritage design with contemporary touches.

  • Restaurants in Kovalam

    Terrace Restaurant

    One of Kovalam's most scenic (and expensive) restaurants, overlooking the turquoise-tinted infinity pool at the top-end clifftop Leela. The elegant menu plays with Indian and international flavours; tempting bites range from chilli-infused pasta to Keralan specialities like Malabar prawn curry or coconut-laced pachakkari (vegetable stew). Or just drop in for a spiced cocktail (₹450 to ₹800) as the sun sets.

  • Restaurants in Periyar Tiger Reserve

    Spice Village

    With tables sprinkled across a verandah or an earthy interior adorned with wood carvings, the sophisticated Spice Village resort restaurant serves a regularly changing menu of South Indian and international delicacies, starring homegrown and locally sourced ingredients in the likes of coconut-infused vegetable curry and tiger-prawn or masala-fish grills. Also here are a colonial-inspired bar and a poolside lunch cafe.

  • Restaurants in Kovalam

    Fusion

    With its imaginative East-meets-West menu and stylish terrace vibe, the restaurant at Beach Hotel II is one of Lighthouse Beach's top dining experiences, rustling up Continental favourites, Asian fusion such as chilli-pesto pasta, and interesting seafood numbers like lobster steamed in vodka. It's also good for breakfast: French-press coffee, herbal teas and muesli-and-fruit bowls overlooking beachfront palms.

  • Restaurants in Kovalam

    Waves Restaurant & German Bakery

    The burnt-orange balcony, ambient soundtrack, sea views and a wide-roaming, well-executed menu keep Waves – atop Beach Hotel – busy with foreigners. It doubles as the German Bakery, a great spot for breakfast with fresh bread, croissants, pastries and French-press coffee, while dinner turns up Thai curries, German sausages, Indian snacks, pizza, pasta and seafood. There's a small bookshop attached.

  • Restaurants in Alappuzha (Alleppey)

    Cafe Katamaran

    Loved by both visitors and locals, mellow, welcoming Katamaran brings a traveller-style menu to its elevated, low-seating deck looking right out on the beach – momos, grilled sandwiches, pastas, curries and seafood specials like grilled garlic-butter fish. There are deliciously fresh juices, lassis and smoothies (including vegan versions), along with breakfasts of pancakes, omelettes or granola, and regular live music.

  • Restaurants in Varkala

    ABBA

    Halfway along the North Cliff, this relaxed and welcoming terrace spot with a handy book exchange remains firmly popular for its inventive salads (perhaps carrot, beetroot and mint, or with lashings of halloumi) and world-roaming breakfasts centred on just-baked bread from the attached bakery, but also whips up pastas, pizzas, momos (Tibetan dumplings), burgers, curries, fresh seafood and cocktails (₹220 to ₹300).