My Favourite Agra Veggie Joints

Having been born and brought up in Agra and having spent most of one’s life in Northern parts of India spoils your taste buds for good. However the best part about Agra is the variety of cuisines I grew up with – Mughlai, Awadhi, Punjabi, North Indian, Continental/English/Italian (so many 5 star Hotels) and even South Indian due to the influx of so many tourists courtesy The Taj Mahal. So once you have lived here you’re ready to go anywhere in India and do well in terms of food as you’re exposed to so many different cuisines. It does offer it’s own challenges though as the rich taste we get here is difficult to be replicated exactly anywhere else.

Through this blog I am gonna relive all those lovely memories of the rich and varied food which made me a foodie during my growing years πŸ™‚ 

This post specifically is about my favourite veggie places in Agra.

Vegetarian Places for Lunch / Dinner

  • Dasaprakash, Meher Talkies, Baluganj – This is the place to be if you like your Dosas, Idlis and all of the South Indian Cuisine. The prices are fairly expensive but the dining experience, taste and service makes up for it. Goldrush Ice-cream is something I never miss when I am here.
  • Manoj Restaurant, Johri bazaar Road, Old City Area – Offers some delicious Dosa and mouth watering Pav Bhaji without the use of onion and garlic ! The pricing is extremely moderate, always packed but you get a seat in 5-10 minutes usually. Ambience and hygiene are not the greatest.
  • Udupi Brindavan, Civil Lines – More or less in the same category as Dasaprakash, does the job for people living in that side of the Town, if you can’t make it Dasaprakash at-least pay this one a visit. One dimension where it scores is apart from South Indian it offers decent Chinese and some Italian options as well.
  • Om Bhojanalay, Sadar Bazaar – One of my favorite places, extremely crowded after 8 pm offers some yummilicious Paranthas, Butter Paneer Masaala, Kadhai Paneer and the limited Veg thali are some of the delicious items.
  • Thaaliwaala, near ITC Mughal – The food definitely is a bit spicy which is a good thing and one can share their Thalis, taste is typically Punjabi and North Indian and overall a good enough place for vegetarian food.
  • Filmy Zaika, Jamuna Kinara – On a slight expensive side of things but the taste and relaxed ambience more than makes up for it. They serve one of the best Paneer Tikkas in Town, if you’re here just don’t miss it !

These were some of the Vegetarian delights I visit every now and then, hope you already have been here, if not I would advise you to start right now πŸ™‚

 

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Om Bhojanalaya Agra Cantt, Agra

Blast from the Past!

Rating – 4/5

Well this belongs to the category of places that believe in simplicity but don’t compromise on the quality of their food.

People looking for sophisticated servers, good ambience etc please don’t go there. It’s a simple and at times a chaotic place and doesn’t always check marks on the overall cleanliness front but its food has its heart in the right place.

I have had numerous meals at this place ranging from the 75 rs. limited veg thali (now 100) to the wonderful kadhai paneer, mutter paneer gravies with butter naans and kulchas. I almost loved everything from their menu and its an extremely pocket friendly place. In under 300 bucks two people can enjoy a hearty meal at this pure vegetarian restaurant.

They also have a related restaurant pretty nearby which almost offers the same taste in a better ambience and is of course slightly expensive.

The crowd here usually comprises of families and is nearly packed in the evening, especially on weekends so go early and enjoy the taste and observe the interesting surroundings.

Absolute value for Money and a big thumbs up for the taste.

Dasaprakash Restaurant Rakabganj, Agra

Pure South Indian Dosa experience !

Rating – 4/5

This is Dosa Paradise, if you love your Dosa’s the South Indian way then this is the place to be.
It serves a lot other dishes as well but is best known for its authentic Dosa or the Dosae as they like to spellΒ it.
My all time favourite is Butter Masaala Dosa and it’s prepared in authentic south Indian style with no North Indian adulteration πŸ˜‰

This is one of the few places that still serve you Dosa and it’s masaala aloo separately much like the same way as done down south.
One of my other favourites is the Veg Cutlets and in desserts I order Gold Rush(simply awesome) every time I visit the place.
Ambience hasn’t changed a lot over the years and service is a bit laid back to put it modestly.
The prices are a bit on the higher side but you won’t get this kind of stuff anywhere else in Agra so go for it if you have a craving for South Indian Cuisine πŸ™‚

Aahar Civil Lines, Agra

Has deteriorated over the years !

Rating – 2.5/5

Aahar has been operational in Agra since forever I guess πŸ™‚
I have fond memories of this place as this was our venue for celebrating friend’s birthdays. This I am talking from my school days when dining out with friends was a big deal and celebrating one’s birthday in Aahar was something we looked forward to. They had some amazing dishes like Kadhai Paneer, machurian & fried rice, cutlets were my all time favourite along with some amazing pastries. This I am talking about 10 years back in time and all friends in my group loved this place.
Coming to the present times, the food quality and the quantity has gone down a bit. Prices have increased expectedly however the taste and passion in serving value for money food has gone out of the window.

All the above items which I mentioned with fond memories don’t live up to their expectations anymore and to top it all there are all kinds of taxes that gets added up in your bill. One can easily expect their final bill to shoot up by atleast 150-200 bucks as a result of these taxes.
Not too many restaurants in Agra charge this much and I wonder if the Tax department has any special tie up with this place πŸ˜‰
The rating of 2.5 is only because of the vivid memories from the past as it’s a place which gave us a lot of joy during our school and college days πŸ™‚

Jahanpanah Agra Cantt, Agra

One of the best places to have Mughlai food in the City of Taj !

Rating – 4.5/5

It would be an understatement if I say that this place is a hidden Gem! Having read the previous reviews with mumbled complaints of overpriced items was a concern but I still thought of giving it a go Today.
The experience was awesome, prices are a bit on the higher side like an upscale dining place. However the taste is absolutely authentic and is worth every extra penny compared to other casual Mughlai restaurants.
It will not rip you off like eating at the “Paatra” or “Peshawari” but the taste is almost on par if not better.
I ordered the following:
1. Galawati Kebab – 5/5 and extremely delicious.
2. Kakori Kebab – 5/5, absolutely melts in the mouth.
3. Chicken Jahaanpanah – 5/5, a very different dish with thick gravy, awesome preparation.
4. Ulte tawe ka Parantha and butter Naan – nice to go with the aforementioned dishes.

A special word for Kakori Kebab, after Tunday’s in Lucknow it’s the only place where you would get the most tender of kebabs. Preparation is so tender that you would deserve a pat on the back if you manage to serve it on your plate without breaking it in pieces (hope barbeque nation is listening). Taste is amazing with a subtle hint of saffron and you just can’t afford to miss this. If you’re reading this during the restaurant’s working hours then leave whatever you’re doing and go for it right now;)
I am striking. 5 due to the overall dining experience since the place is very compact and it’s all put up in a very limited space so you won’t get a lot of privacy from other curious guests at busy hours πŸ™‚
I will sign off with a strong recommendation to sample the mesmerizing Awadhi preparations you will not get anywhere else.

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Pinch Of Spice Tajganj, Agra

Decent Non Vegetarian fare in the City of Taj !

Rating – 4/5

Pinch of Spice is the place for Authentic Mughlai Food. Food is tasty and quantity is usually large compared to other places but then prices are comparatively higher as well. So I guess it all equalizes in terms of what you’re spending and what you’re getting in terms of quantity.

Ambience is nice and the crowd that frequents this place is decent as well owing to the above average prices.
Tandoori Chicken is usually juicy and done just right to evoke those Tandoori sentiments which will remain long after you have left the place πŸ˜‰
Mutton Rogan Josh and most of the Chicken Gravies are good to have and tastewise I have no issues with this place.
However the biggest improvement they have to make here is in terms of service, you might be in a good 15-20 minutes earlier to the folks sitting next to your Table but you might end up waiting for more and the next Table gets served first.
Moreover I have seen that the waiters/Captains are more eager to serve our Foreign Guests and can come across to Indians with a “Chalta hai” attitude if the service is a little slow or no one is bothering to note down your order.
Its good that we look after our Foreign Guests as well but not at the expense of your local crowd, c’mon Guys start treating all your guests with equal respect and attention else soon your Restaurant will be visited only by Foreigners during the Season time in Agra and rest of the time I hope it’s not deserted by everyone due to this I don’t care attitude and I am sure that’s not what the Management wants.
I am still giving the place 4 star because of Ambience and Quality of Food but I hope there are some learnings from the area of improvement aforementioned in my review.
Lastly the “Paan shots” that are served as mouth freshner is something which is unique to this place and good to have πŸ™‚

Deviram Sweets And Restaurant Rakabganj, Agra

A legendary place for breakfast!

Rating – 4/5

Well to set the expectations straight, this is a legendary place that has stood the taste….err the test of time by all means.
They offer good quality sweets along with some exquisite authentic snacks that can only be prepared the way it’s done in Agra/NCR and which I so dearly miss having shifted to Pune more than a decade ago ): Anyway atleast twice a year we give a visit to my birth place and ensure that we have the breakfast packed from this place for the majority of our stay if not on all days.

From being a fairly modest place in the late 80s they have now expanded their footprint in the city of Agra with three outlets.

As the name suggests they are predominantly a sweets shop and people throng to their outlets on festive occasions like diwali/holi and otherwise as well. This is basically “the goto place” for pure Desi ghee preparation sweets for majority of folks in the city of Agra.

Coming to their snacks following are my ratings over the last two decades (as long as I can remember)

Bedhai with Aloo subzi – 4/5, not sure where else this is prepared. The subzi is extra spicy (read laced with more than a few chillies) but goes well with a kachauri stuffed with masaala. There is an extremely inferior version of this preparation available in Tasty Tongues, Pune that doesn’t do any justice to the authentic preparation. My better half cooks it pretty close to the original taste and I just had it today at home which prompted me to write this piece πŸ™‚

Samosas – 5/5, again very generous on the spice front, rich in garam masaala, these Samosas pack a punch and go really well with their green chutney. I remember making frequent trips to this place riding on my bicycle whenever guests used to come unannounced. A quick bite consisting of these Samosas accompanied by the green chutney and ginger tea used to make for a heavenly breakfast/evening snack and a combination which one could proudly present to their guests πŸ™‚ These were ofcourse the days of early/mid 90s that I am talking about, the price would have been 50 paise per piece if I remember correctly and they were an awesome deal at that time as is today (now rs 7). Though it’s not prepared in Desi ghee but vegetable oil, the stuffing is quite unique and haven’t found this taste anywhere else.

The other delicacies that you don’t want to miss are the sweet lassi and Rabdi, both are delicious and if you’re not calorie conscious a Shahi breakfast comprising of all these four items would simply be unforgettable and beyond comparison so go for it whenever you get a chance. I am getting mine in November πŸ™‚

Now comes a word of caution and the reason for a rating of 4 and not 5 is because of the utter chaos that you will have to go through at this outlet since all of the above items except sweets are prepared and served pretty much next to a busy road. There is no organized way to fetch these items in a civilized manner. During the peak breakfast/evening snacks time I have seen the queues (not exactly q’s but people coming from all directions) so long that they have sometimes contributed to traffic jams and it’s an absolute circus these days.

I see no efforts to rectify the bottlenecks and this is perhaps the most irritating factor while you’re at it. You’re basically on your own and may have to wait for a good 20 minutes before you can hope to get a bite.

However this is a must must visit place if you’re in Agra for a short while or a localite and is strictly not to be missed!