A List Of Ten Favourite Restaurants To Help You Eat Your Way Through Kerala. 

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Photo of A List Of Ten Favourite Restaurants To Help You Eat Your Way Through Kerala. by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Besides a few other things, here’s what matters the most to people in Kerala: their food. Like many other Indian states, household discussions about ‘what the next meal should be?’ are pretty common here and it may often seem that food in fact is a living person, a part of the household and an equally dear to all members. This passion and love for food can be seen in Kerala’s numerous restaurants and food joints: the smell of fried fish, the queues for Malabari biryani, the tradition in banana chips store, and the warmth of Pathimugam (red wood) infused water.

These days, Kerala is highly romanticised for its impeccable luxury. You may have come across numerous Instagram posts that show a fancy spread with a view of the backwaters, exhibiting foods like dosa, idli, coconut drinks served in fancy trays and so on. Well, that’s one way to experience the region. For those who take their food as seriously as Malayalis do, chuck the resorts and head to the real restaurants for the real Kerala food. There’s no fancy cutlery here and probably no views, just the good old banana leaf spattered with food delicious enough for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to fall in love with God’s own country.

In this article, we give you a list of our ten favorite restaurants (in no order) to eat in Kerala, each with something unique to offer.

Budget eat

Nestled in Kadalundi village, on the way to Calicut (Kozhikode), this small eatery operates out of a house. Open for not more than 3 hours a day, the ‘kada’ (Malayalam for ‘shop’) serves fish fry, meals, crab, and other seafood items. Fresh fish is caught every morning from the river located right behind the house. When we spoke with the ‘chechi’ who cooks the food, she said that she feeds the same meal to her children after they come from school so it has to be clean, healthy, and delicious enough. Without doubt, it is all of those things. In fact, we are not going to hold back in saying that it is the finest fish fry you will probably have, anywhere in the world.

Good to know: The eatery is open for lunch from 12pm to 3pm only, serving seafood and Kerala meals. It’s a simple eatery with not more than a few tables. Besides, there isn’t any air conditioning to combat the heat. The food makes up for all that!

Photo of Balettan's Fish Fry Centre, Beach Rd, Near New Bridge, Kozhikode, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Budget eat

Started in 1948, this restaurant is a classic example of Kerala’s love for food. The ‘biryani’ cooked in ghee has attracted actors like Mammootty to this restaurant. Yet the simplicity of the place remains intact. Look for Mutton or Chicken Biryani in their menu and add side dishes based on your preference. Currently, the restaurant is managed by the third generation of the family and operates out of two locations. Though the biryani is equally brilliant in both the branches, visit the old one called Kayees Rahmathullah Cafe in Mattancherry for a more rustic experience; the new one in Pallimukku is more comfortable especially during the summer heat.

Good to know: The place is a blessing for Biryani connoisseurs while others may find it an average Kerala restaurant. Arrive at the restaurant no later than 2 pm to get biryani for lunch. The biryani gets over quite early on the weekends.

Image Credit: Facebook, Kayees Hotel

Photo of Kayees Rahmathulla Cafe, Mattancherry, Kochi, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Mid-range eat

Established in 1939, this restaurant is another Malayali gem. Famous for its Calicut style biryani, this dish takes a completely different form here and tastes as good or even better than many other biryanis. Add mustard fish fry or mango fish curry as a side dish and you are good to go. The hospitality at the restaurant is perfect and so is the ambience. Again, it’s Kerala and food matters more than fancy crockery so let’s focus on the food. Shall we?

Good to know: The place has four different serving areas. The premium one comes with air conditioning and an exclusive menu. The other halls serve as a quick eating place for locals who may be visiting the place quite often and don’t mind the heat.

Photo of Paragon Restaurant, Calicut, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Budget eat

A no frills place with four branches in the town of Alleppey, this eatery has been winning hearts of the locals and tourists since its first branch opened in central town. Ignore the menu for everything else (skip the chinese food!) and straight away jump to their Kerala food section: their ‘Karimeen Pollichathu’ (fresh fish coated with spices and cooked in a banana leaf) is an Alleppey (Alappuzha) speciality. Also favorite among locals here is Thaff’s Prawn Roast and Chicken Kothi Pori.

Good to know: Out of the four branches, pick the ones at Mullakkal Road or Paravoor for better parking and seating. The other two branches are located in the city centre and are much simpler than the former.

Image Credits: Flickr/ Premshree Pillai

Photo of Thaff Restaurant, Alappuzha, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Luxury eat

This luxury boutique restaurant gets a place in the list for its quirky twist to the Kerala food. Extending the menu beyond Kerala food, the restaurant offers a wide range of international cuisines and a spectacular array of desserts. You may just find a chicken steak wrapped in a banana leaf here! Located in an 18th century Dutch bungalow, the restaurant is a perfect place to spend a slow relaxed evening with great food for company.

Good to know: Unfortunately, the restaurant does not serve any alcohol yet. You may want to sip on your wine before you head out for dinner.

Image Credit: villamaya.in

Photo of Villa Maya Heritage Restaurant, Pazhavangadi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Mid-range eat

It is quite an impossibility that a list of Kerala’s favorite food spots doesn’t have one from Fort Kochi. As the name suggest, this cafe marries food and art. As you enter the cafe, you will be welcomed with a series of contemporary art that resonates with the Fort Kochi vibe. The art and sculpture is changed and replaced often and it’s delight to walk past them. Come here for Kashi’s amazing breakfast options: homemade granola, french toast, spinach omelet are highly recommended.

Good to know: The cafe is located in a narrow lane with no parking facility. You may be able to find a parking spot at a walkable distance from the cafe.

Image Credit: Facebook, Kashi Art Cafe

Photo of Kashi Art Café, Fort Nagar, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Budget eat

At the risk of making generalisations, it’s to be said that Malayalis love their alcohol and it is only fair to indulge in some when in Kerala even if one isn’t a fan. Unlike what this love may have lead to anywhere else in the world, Kerala doesn’t have fancy breweries or chic bars to go to. This region takes pride in serving its local alcohol, Toddy in its old school rustic toddy shops (bars) with Mullapanthal Toddy Shop being on top of its game in the toddy world. There’s a simple seating area and an air conditioned room each with different prices. Besides serving the tastiest toddy in town, this place is a heaven for food connoisseurs: beef fry, pork fry, kappa (boiled tapioca), duck curry, kallumakai (mussels), rabbit, anchovies and the list goes on. We won’t judge you if you skip the alcohol entirely and just dig in to the food!

Good to know: The shop is located a little off the main city and closes at sharp 8 pm. There’s a short walk from the parking area which may seem longer given the heavy belly we walk out with.

Image Credits: Flickr/ Parmeet Kohli

Photo of Mullapanthal Toddy Shop, Udayamperoor, Thrippunithura, Kochi, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Luxury eat

All the way from Saudi Arabia, Nawras Seafood is a part of a chain of restaurants that has made a name for itself in Saudi. This spot is for those nitpicky seafood lovers who need their fish fresh and don’t mind chatting about their food’s origin. Select the seafood from the wide range of fresh catch at Nawras, pick your dressing and maybe modify it to your taste, watch your fish grill in charcoal and ta-da!, your dish is ready to be served. If picking your own food sounds like too much labor, go for their gigantic seafood platter followed by a traditional Kerala desert called payasam to end the meal with.

Good to know: The restaurant does their best to modify marinade for your seafood but expect a preset choice of marinades that may or maynot be tweaked to suit your palate completely. Also, it’s a fine dining restaurant and a regular meal may cost you over 2500 INR for two people.

Image Credit: Facebook, Nawras

Photo of Nawras, Shenoys, Kochi, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Budget eat

Located in a crowded bazaar of Kannur is a restaurant that locals swear by: MVK. A simple clean hygienic eatery known for its ‘nadan’ (local) Kerala dishes ranging from Malabari porotta, prawns, chicken, all cooked in traditional North Kerala pepper. What gets this eatery on this list is its Malabari Biryani - try fish biryani for a change, you wouldn’t be disappointed. A heap of soft fragrant rice hiding delicious masala and fresh fish will fill make a trip to this otherwise average city quite memorable. Don’t forget to end your meal with MVK’s special lemon tea that may just open your appetite for more food.

Good to know: Best to leave your vehicles at your hotel to avoid struggling for parking space. The restaurant doesn’t have any air conditioning; you can choose to call the restaurant to place an order and eat at the comfort of your home to avoid sweating out in Kerala’s heat.

Photo of MVK Restaurant, Kannur, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

Budget eat

Kerala is undoubtedly a paradise for meat and seafood lovers. It’s closeness to the sea and ancient past shows in its food choice. BUT, there’s pepper and other spices, bananas, coconuts, exotic fruits and vegetables, and many more unique crops that grow in this region. The best way to eat this dense variety is through Kerala's traditional meal ‘sadhya,’ a platter of 13 to 16 vegetarian items spread on a banana leaf, served and eaten during celebrations. Find the best version of this meal at Mothers’ Veg Plaza in Trivandrum. Ditch the menu and directly ask the staff to serve you a ‘sadya’ meal: a range of items will start pouring on your banana leaf till you beg them to stop.

Good to know: It’s an old school eatery with efficient and hospitable staff; expect to see waiters running around to deliver food on other tables. Sadya is a lunch meal only - make sure that you arrive here early in the afternoon to avoid queues.

Image Credit: Flickr/Premshree Pillai

Photo of Mothers Veg Plaza, Vanross, Palayam, Trivandrum, Kerala, India by Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot

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