Best restaurants in South India

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Peshawri

    Make this Northwest Frontier restaurant, outside the international airport, your first or last stop in Mumbai. It's a carbon copy of Delhi's famous Bukhara, with the same menu and decor. Folks flock here for the buttery dhal bukhara, a 24-hour simmered black dhal (₹945), but don't miss kebabs. Try the Murgh Malai (marinated tandoor-grilled chicken) and raan (impossibly succulent slow-roasted lamb hock). Despite the five-star surrounds (and prices) you’re encouraged to eat with your hands and the seating is low.

  • 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 Mumbai (Bombay)

    Bohri Kitchen

    Served up in a family home, this weekend-only pop-up dining experience was cooked up by former Google employee Munaf Kapadia. It showcases both the spectacular home cooking of his mother, Nafisa, and the unique cuisine of the Bohra Muslim community, which draws on influences from as far afield as Yemen and Gujarat. The concept was so successful that the Maharashtra Government even lifted the idea for an initiative to empower local communities and increase tourism through visitors' bellies! Predictably, the seven-course, home-dining experience is easily one of Mumbai's most magical. Nafisa's smoked mutton kheema samosas and 48-hour raan are always included in the weekly-changing menu, which is announced on Facebook. You must book ahead and pay a deposit – this is not a traditional restaurant! – and the address is revealed 24 hours in advance. Then settle in for a special afternoon with the Kapadia family.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Bombay Canteen

    Bombay Canteen is one of Mumbai's hottest restaurants, courtesy of former New York chef and Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz, and executive chef Thomas Zacharias, who spent time at New York's three-Michelin-star Le Bernardin. India-wide regional dishes and traditional flavours dominate – Kejriwal toast, Goan pulled-pork-vindaloo tacos, mustard chicken curry – each dish an explosion of texture and flavour. Excellent cocktails (₹350 to ₹1135) like Incredible India (vodka, basil, ginger, pineapple juice and orange juice) or the artisanal G&Ts made with house tonic are perfect for jump-starting a night out in Lower Parel. Reservations are essential (7.30pm/8pm and 10pm/10.30pm seatings only). Don't miss the comment card – it's a riot.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Pune

    Malaka Spice

    Maharashtra's shining culinary moment is a fury of Southeast Asian fantasticness; trying to choose one dish among the delectable stir-fries, noodles and curries – all strong on seafood, vegetarian options, chicken, duck and mutton – is futile. Dine alfresco under colourful tree lights and relish the spicy and intricate flavour cavalcade from star chefs reared on a Slow Food, stay-local philosophy. Many of the ingredients used come from its own farm (50km from Pune; you can stay there, too). It's also a good spot for a drink, with creative cocktails (curry leaf and orange mojitos), craft beer, Indian wine and mead. Reserve ahead and starve yourself all day in preparation.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Calangute & Baga

    Go With the Flow

    Stepping into the fantasy, neon-lit garden of white-wicker furniture is impressive and the food is consistently good. With a global menu leaning towards European, African and Asian flavours, this remains one of Baga's best dining experiences. Try some of the small bites (ask about a tasting plate) or go straight for the signature pork belly or African-inspired spicy prawn rice. If you don't get vertigo, request a table high on the tower deck. Very charitably, according to management, all profits go towards the Samarpan Foundation, a not-for-profit Delhi-based charity supporting disadvantaged people, particularly children.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Maharashtra

    Kinara Dhaba Village

    A bit of a dhaba Disneyland, but therein lies the fun. About 5km east of Lonavla, near Karla and Bhaja caves, is this fun-for-all restaurant/entertainment venue. Dine under traditional shamiana huts amid festival lighting, camel and donkey rides, jalebi (deep-fried batter dunked in sugar syrup) carts, fish pedicure pools and Rajasthani astrologers. Live ghazal (Urdu love songs) nightly (7pm). The electric atmosphere is made more so by local holiday merrymakers. A return rickshaw including wait time from the centre of town should cost around ₹300 to ₹500.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Maharashtra

    Grapevine

    Way too hip for Mahabaleshwar, this classy restaurant/wine bar is unmissable. Chef/owner Raio's culinary pedigree includes Taj Hotels and his creative takes on Parsi and fresh seafood are divine. The monstrous Mediterranean lamb burger (with feta and harissa mayo) and the soft-shell crab burger are worth the trip here alone, but there's also spicy tiger prawns, lamb shanks and lobster. Wrought-iron tables set up among stone walls tastefully lends a Mediterranean air. The bar boasts cold beer and a smart, Sula-dominated wine list (which you can purchase by the glass or bottle).

  • 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 Mumbai (Bombay)

    Dakshinayan

    With rangoli (elaborate designs) on the walls, servers in lungis, and sari-clad women lunching ( chappals – sandals – off under the table), Dakshinayan channels Tamil Nadu. There are delicately textured dosas, idli and uttapam, village-fresh chutneys and perhaps the best rasam (tomato soup with spices and tamarind) in Mumbai. Finish off with a South Indian filter coffee, served in a stainless-steel set. Chilli-heads should order molagapudi idli, a dozen idli coated in ‘gunpowder’ (potent spices).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Pune

    Savya Rasa

    This modern, fiercely regional South Indian restaurant champions the best of India's bottom half and isn't afraid to tell you if you are ordering the wrong bread with the wrong curry. Listen to the staff and you'll have one of the region's best meals. The Meen Manga Curry (seer fish and raw mango curry in coconut gravy) and tremendously fiery Guntur chilli chicken are flavour bombs, cooked to perfection and made magical when scooped up with the perfect Malabar parotta, a flaky, soft, crisp and layered flatbread that tastes like it's cooked in heaven.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Panaji

    Black Sheep Bistro

    Among the best of Panaji's burgeoning boutique restaurants, Black Sheep’s impressive pale-yellow facade gives way to a sexy dark-wood bar and loungy dining room. The tapas dishes are light, fresh and expertly prepared in keeping with their farm-to-table philosophy. Salads, pasta, seafood and dishes like lamb osso buco grace the menu, while an internationally trained sommelier matches food to wine. The Black Sheep is serious about food and it shows. It's also a sophisticated bar with Goan craft beers, feni cocktails and Indian and imported wines.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Panaji

    Viva Panjim

    Well-known to tourists, this little side-street eatery, in an old Portuguese house and with a few tables out on the laneway, delivers tasty Goan classics at reasonable prices. There’s a whole page devoted to pork dishes, along with tasty xacuti (a spicy chicken or meat dish cooked in red coconut sauce) and cafreal (a marinated chicken dish) meals. Other specialities include seafood such as kingfish curry and crab xec xec (vindaloo), steaks and desserts such as bebinca (Goan 16-layer cake).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in North Goa

    Thalassa

    North Goa's most famous Greek restaurant was forced out of its long-running Vagator location in 2018 but has found a new waterfront home at Teso in Siolim. Still authentic and awesomely good Greek food is served al fresco overlooking the Chapora River. Kebabs, souvlaki and thoughtful seafood dishes are the speciality, but this is also a great bar and it usually fills up late in the evening when you might see some Greek dancing and plate smashing. Come early, order a jug of sangria and enjoy the sunset over Chapora harbour.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in North Goa

    Bean Me Up

    Bean Me Up is vegan, but even nonveg travellers will be blown away by the taste, variety and filling plates on offer in this relaxed garden restaurant. The extensive menu includes vegan pizzas, ice creams, housemade tofu curry and innovative salads. Ingredients are as diverse as coconut, cashew milk and cashew cheese, quinoa, tempeh and lentil dhal. Breakfast is a treat with scrambled tofu, buckwheat pancakes and killer coconut milk smoothies. Even with the healthy vibe you can get a beer or cocktail here too.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Bengaluru (Bangalore)

    Food Street

    For a local eating experience, head to VV Puram, aka Food Street, with its strip of hole-in-the-wall eateries cooking up classic street-food dishes from across India. It's quite a spectacle, with rotis being handmade and spun in the air and bhajia (vegetable fritters) dunked into hot oil before packed crowds. It’s an all-vegetarian affair, with a range of dosas, idli (fermented rice cakes), Punjabi-style snacks and curries, and Mumbai chaat (savoury snack).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Kitchen Garden by Suzette

    From the same French trio that brought us Suzette comes this superb organic cafe, a haven of health and homesick-remedying salads, sandwiches, cold-press juices and coffee sourced from local cooperatives and organic farms around Maharashtra and worldwide. The burrata, made by an American Indian Hare Krishna in Gujarat, is outstanding, but then again, so is everything. A newer branch has opened in Bandra Kurla Complex as well.

  • 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 Nashik

    Divtya Budhlya Wada

    If you're looking for a spicy kick in the gut, this local hotspot is the place to come for authentic Maharashtrian food that'll make your nose run. Under an atmospheric, lantern-lit bamboo canopy, locals devour the special mutton thali (₹290; could be more generous) and rustic à la carte countryside dishes bone-in, grease, fat and all. Tasty stuff. It's located 5km northwest of the centre – order an Uber for ₹85 or so. Signed in Marathi only.