Vidyarthi Bhavan and S.G.R. Enterprises are unpretentious joints, serving a variety of south Indian specials

In the age-old streets of Gandhi Bazaar, and nearby areas, are a crop of unpretentious fast food joints, serving a variety of clean and tasty food that isn't hard on the pocket.

Our first stop here was the popular Vidyarthi Bhavan, a small restaurant that is impossible to miss because of the crowd overflowing beyond the footpath onto the road. The high ceiling and tiled roof of the place gives it the feel of an institution standing tall and strong, upholding the rich tradition of south Indian food. The legacy of this restaurant began even before a free India was born — started in 1943 by Venkataramana Ural, this place retains its glory as the precursor to the city's ‘darshini' culture.

Its menu has not expanded beyond the local staples of idli, vada, dosa, poori and uppittu; but the one concession it has made in variety, the masala dosa, takes the cake. To Gundu Rao, a regular customer for the past three decades, this is not only where he gets great food, but also a place filled with nostalgia, which makes him feel younger and happier.

For the younger generation visiting this eatery, cleanliness, speed and quality of service are on a par with any modern joint. The charged atmosphere, apart from the strong coffee, is sure to lift your mood and keep you on your toes the whole day.

Vidyarthi Bhavan is at 32, Gandhi Bazaar, Near Gandhi Bazaar Circle, Basavanagudi (26677588).

Shavige for the soul

Wandering into one of the narrow bylanes of the market, I chanced upon S.G.R. Enterprises, a secret well kept by residents of the area, serving a colourful array of shavige. I started with the lemon shavige paired with the brown spicy puliyogare shavige and finished with plain white fluffy shavige doused in sweet kus kus, made with coconut and jaggery.

The shavige is made daily from scratch. “The recipe is from Google, though,” admits Sashi Kiran, the owner of the hole-in-the-wall eatery. He claims his store has served 3 lakh customers in the last year, despite its low profile. He also supplies plain shavige to restaurants and wedding caterers. Despite binging for a whole afternoon, I couldn't resist the temptation of an extra cup of kus kus at S.G.R.

S.G.R. Enterprises is at 127, D.V.G. Road, next to the Bata showroom, Basavanagudi (9945557114).

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