A row of restaurants just before Apsara Theatre offer basic service until dawn

The pete area is by far the busiest in the city by day. But at night, in the shadow of the Sirsi flyover and K.R Market, many pull down their shutters while others unpack their wares to be sold. “Everyone sleeps in shifts here,” Giri, a tea vendor, points out. “Someone is always awake trying to sell something,” he adds.

Most buildings appear to be closed, but a row of restaurants just before Apsara Theatre offer very basic service up to about 4 a.m. You’ll have to duck under half-closed shutters to enter these restaurants, where rights of admission are reserved: suspected troublemakers aren’t welcome here.

Biryani a given

The menu at this time doesn’t offer anything grand, but finding biryani is a given here. One joint provides biryani with shredded meat instead of the usual cuts: a comforting feature as the last thing one wants to do in the middle of the night is wrestle with stubborn pieces of meat. Interestingly, the biryani is spiced with a tinge of chaat masala along with the regular mix (although the management appears to keep its recipe a closely-guarded secret). Besides the biryani or its meatless version, ‘khuska’, the non-vegetarian accompaniments are the only thing on the menu.

Each restaurant specialises in particular meats, and some run out of stock faster than the others: the restaurants that serve beef, among other meats, close the earliest by around 2 a.m.

Considering the unusual timings, the restaurants don’t charge a premium for main items on the menu such as rice or parathas, although they do charge around Rs. 5 extra for every side dish. Mutton-lovers should try the restaurant that serves bhaji gosht exclusively: with an assortment of herbs and spices, the semi-transparent gravy of this dish is gets its flavour from tender pieces of lamb.

These joints cater to the many people of the area who catch an early start and make some of the freshest produce available to the public on a daily basis. To find them, all you need to do is ask around in the area under the flyover, which is the centre of activity with auto drivers, policemen and hawkers huddling around the lone chaiwalla on a cycle, all trying to stay awake to do their jobs.

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