I thought I had the address wrong when I walked up and down near the Malleswaram Railway Station looking for Sri Raghavendra Stores. This blue roadside stall is small and unassuming, and I would have completely missed it if I hadn’t spotted a growing queue waiting for the store to open. Nestled just opposite the Manipal Northside Hospital, Raghavendra Stores was started in 1975 and is the family-run enterprise of K. Ramanth from Udupi, who named the store after his son and current owner, Raghavendra. The family used to own a restaurant nearby, but later chose to run just the store with a smaller menu, so they could focus on the quality of their food.

From far and wide

I noticed that the customer base was very varied, ranging from auto drivers to retirees, corporate professionals and students; many of them seemed like regulars. The joint also supplies food to neighbouring offices, temples and passengers stopping at the station. Jyoti Narayana, the manager for 33 years, says that even though there is no seating or other facilities usually found in restaurants, regulars still come from as far as Tumkur.

Satish Gowda, a travel and tourism consultant, says, “I’ve been coming here for over 20 years and I feel that the quality and taste of the food is still the same.” But Manjushree, a student from Tumkur who travelled by train to attend a workshop in Bangalore, wasn’t impressed: “The food is okay. I think it is crowded only because it is the only hotel on this road.”

Universal favourite

While I bought myself a plate to see what the fuss was about, I noticed a little boy relishing a plate of idlis. “When I grow up, I will bring my friends here” said Pranav Sharma, a Class IV student. The idlis were soft and freshly made in their kitchen a few blocks from the store. They do serve other items such as khara bhath, shavige and coffee (with a take-away option), but with all talk revolving around the idlis, there are no points for guessing which dish gets the most votes.

“Not only is the food tasty, it’s healthy. It’s quality food at reasonable prices and you feel full at half the price of what you would pay in other restaurants,” says Suma Promod, a working mother. At Sri Raghavendra Stores, open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., a meal for two could cost Rs. 80.

(Sri Raghavendra Stores is on 11th Main Road, Maruthi Extension, Vinayaka Layout.)

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