Wheres and Whats—A Shopping and Eating Guide to Manipal
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Manipal, at first glance, may seem like a quaint, quiet, and rather boring town to most newbies. Although a tiny place of about a three-kilometre radius, it is no less than a mini-metropolis with a pretty decent share of restaurants, places to shop, and places to, well, hang out with your squad once in a while! Contrary to common perception, this student-friendly town offers a paradise to food lovers and shopaholics alike.
Food is one of the most integral parts of college life, and Manipal brings forth a wide variety of cuisine. Indian, Thai, Chinese, South Indian, Continental—name it, and you shall have it on your plate. The best part, though, has to be the short distances. Almost every food joint and restaurant is located in the close vicinity of the campus. Another upside of being a student town is that only a few places here end up leaving a hole in your pocket. Some of the more popular places in town are:
EYE OF THE TIGER
One of the best places to eat continental cuisine—EOTT is a non-vegetarian’s delight. With classic meat and chicken dishes, as well as an array of fresh seafood, this place is one of the most visited restaurants in town. Though a little pricier than other restaurants, the food here is definitely worth the money, you spend on it. It is also famous for one of its most foreboding dishes, Ghost Wings—the spiciest set of wings one would’ve ever come across, and a ghost pepper smeared challenge for even the most hardcore spice lovers.
A rather homely restaurant next to Tiger Circle, Dollops is an extremely pocket-friendly eatery which is ideal for a gathering of up to ten people. It is best known for its Chinese cuisine—the American Chop Suey and wontons being all-time favourites.
Rather obscurely located, this place offers the best Mexican food in town. Basil Cafe is also known to serve different kinds of pasta, and an occasional Malaysian ‘day’s special’ dish. It is also extremely economical and has some of the friendliest staff in town.
A little lesser-known restaurant serving very reasonably priced Chinese and Indian food, Hangout has a very cosy ambience, featuring a creative and unique style of lighting. Apart from the regular dishes one might expect to find on the menu, they also serve chicken (or paneer) on a banana leaf, which is a speciality at Hangout.
Despite being a little away from the town, Attill manages to attract a considerable number of regulars who swear by its seafood dishes—some of the best Manipal has to offer. It is a little heavy on the pocket, but the food is definitely worth the price. Also, the chicken biryani is a must-try at Attill.
Very differently-themed, Sizzler Ranch is one of the only restaurants in Manipal that specialises in sizzlers. Though a little expensive for the average student, the serving sizes are very generous, and the menu offers a variety of options unparalleled in Manipal. The Sizzler Brownie is one interesting offering of the restaurant and deserves a taste.
This is one of the most luxe hotels in town and is capable of wreaking havoc on your budget with just a single meal. Nevertheless, it serves some of the best dishes in town. One of the things that set Country Inn apart from the other places in town would be their breakfasts—pancakes being a dish that appears almost exclusively on the breakfast menu here.
HADIQA(Formerly known as The Egg Factory)
One of the most happening hangout places, Hadiqa is situated right next to the college campus, making it very convenient to reach. The place is usually full, given the low pricing of dishes. Pasta is a staple here, with diners often ending their meals with chocolate mousse for dessert. Within the compound is the ice cream parlour, Payohima, which serves some of the best ice creams in Manipal. Payohima also has an independent outlet, situated opposite the MIT main gate.
Set against a Punjabi backdrop, the restaurant offers mouthwatering North Indian dishes at very low prices. Almost all their dishes are worth trying and will leave you smacking your fingers. Sai’s is the ideal place if you have a hungry stomach and an almost empty pocket.
As the name suggests, this is the perfect fast food joint for students. Try ‘potato lovers’ or the ‘DBC (Death by Chocolate)‘ if you happen to visit the place. Affordable prices, good food, and amazing desserts—Snack Shack has it all.
If you’re someone who hates having breakfast at the Food Court and prefers sleeping in late on Sunday mornings, Pangala is your go-to place. The tiny joint offers scrumptious South Indian meals at very reasonable prices. The masala dosa and vada are a must-try and provide a huge relief from the monotonous breakfast routines back at college.
This hotel at Tiger Circle has two major restaurants. While the vegetarian section has delicious malai kofta, paneer tikka, and rice, the non-vegetarian branch of this hotel has delectable chicken ghee roast and biryani. The restaurants are a bit pricey, but the quality of the food makes up for it.
A newly opened restaurant near Canara Mall, Coast Asia offers delectable North Indian, South Indian, Mangalorean, Thai, and Malaysian cuisine. A little pricey, the place offers some great variety for those looking to explore cuisines. The chicken ghee roast and the non-vegetarian platter are some of the recommended dishes. The restaurant should be on your checklist if you fancy good ambience and scrumptious food.
Truly set in a Ghar, this eatery offers some of the best Rajasthani food in town. The place is extremely cheap, and the food is very homely. The menu brings forth a wide variety of Rajasthani cuisine, and Saturday’s dal bhati choorma is a must-try. If you miss home, take an auto and grab a meal at this homely place. The only drawback is its location, as Rajasthani Ghar is situated somewhere in the interior lanes near Syndicate Circle.
This place, right opposite to the Syndicate Bank Head Office, as the name suggests, is known for its rolls. Being well-priced, they make for good evening snacks or even an economical dinner. To wash it down, try the milkshakes at Cad M Cad B, a popular milkshake outlet right next to Rolls Mania.
The all-natural ice cream parlour that has been making ripples all over India for its authentic fruity flavours has made its way to Manipal, with a crisp brown waffle cone full of reasonably-priced ice cream. Located at quite a distance from Kamath Circle, it has nonetheless become an air-conditioned haven for busy, sun-wary students from all over Manipal.
Bacchus Inn offers both delicious and affordable food. With the Butter Chicken and Chicken Ghee Roast being the top recommended dishes, this place is surely a favourite amongst Manipalites.
This new restaurant quickly clinched its title as “the best Chinese restaurant in town”. Its posh interior decor and chill ambience make for a casual dining experience, although it does get pretty crowded on weekends. The quality and quantity of the food served almost makes up for the slow and inefficient service. Momos are a must-try here, according to most reviews.
THE BELGIAN WAFFLE CO.
With outlets in over 50 cities across the country, The Belgian Waffle Co. opened its doors in Manipal with an established fanbase. They serve all the favourites, from the delectable Waff-wiches to the oh-so-fluffy mini pancakes. If you decide to stop by, be prepared to experience a sugar rush from all the oozing chocolate and syrup.
For all the chaat lovers who feel deprived of it in Manipal, Tiwari Chat is an inconspicuous little shack that serves up the best chaat in town. Most of the chaat here is delicious, but the sookha poori stands apart as one of the most popular chaats at Tiwari. The shop has three outlets—two near the MIT campus and one near the KMC campus.
This is currently the most-visited dessert corner in town, and one can never spot it empty. The bakery offers cakes, pastries, and desserts of various kinds. The Creme Brulee and chocolate-filled doughnut are some of the recommended options. It’s not too pricey, and a trip to Crave twice a week will soon become a part of your daily life.
The campus itself also offers a variety of food options. Ranging from the late night saviours—the night canteens, to the numerous outlets that dot the campus, there’s a lot to eat in MIT.
HIT AND RUN
Hit and Run is a multi-cuisine food joint that caters mostly to the residents of 18th, 19th, and 20th Blocks. It is also one of the few places that have permission to deliver anywhere within the campus and is thus the perfect answer to midnight food cravings.
HOSTEL NIGHT CANTEENS
Situated in nearly every block, these vary vastly in their quality and selection. Chef on Wheels (the group that operates the Food Court) operates the majority of canteens and sells packets of chips, biscuits, and puffs, along with beverages like coffee and iced tea. Independent operators also run some of the canteens and sell a variety of food—burgers, noodles, rotis, and more. These offer the convenience of proximity, with some even delivering to the hostel rooms for a nominal charge.
Having gotten an idea of the variety of culinary options available in town, it also serves one well to have an idea of the retail options available, which happen to be just as surprisingly numerous as the restaurants.
This departmental store tops the list for variety—selling brands from not just all over the country, but the world as well. Everything, from exotic Pringles flavours to guacamole in a jar, is available here.
Right opposite the thirteenth block and en route to the academic blocks, this store couldn’t have been more conveniently placed. It caters to the needs of budding architects and the eternally hungry alike. It also has a photocopy and printing facility.
KAMATH BOOK DEPOT
Kamath Book Depot and Shiva Book Depot offer all the textbooks prescribed in the syllabi at MIT at standard retail prices. If one does not wish to purchase books, they can use the Book Bank facility offered by the MIT library, that allows students to borrow books for an entire semester, on a first-come-first-serve basis.
THE ROAD TO UDUPI
The place that mustn’t go unmentioned doesn’t really have a name. All one has to do is hail an auto to any of the numerous outlets that line the road to get there. Reminiscent of Mall Road, it has some standard chain restaurants like Domino’s, KFC, and quite a few local ones like Burger Lounge and Hideout. Frequented by local shopaholics, the road offers a variety of stores—FBB, Fab India, Reliance Trends, Levi’s, Woodlands, and a lot of other smaller shops.
Canara mall houses one of Manipal’s two multiplex theatres, Bharath Cinemas, along with a slew of restaurants at the food court, including popular food chains like McDonalds and Pizza Hut. It also has a number of fashion retail outlets like Skechers, Unlimited, and Reliance Trends nestled inside it. Situated at a stone’s throw away from the MIT main gate, Canara Mall is rapidly becoming a top hangout spot for students.
The newly constructed Student Plaza, spread across what used to be Kamath Circle, serves as an activity hub for club events and promotions. The Plaza is lined with small stores that cater to students’ daily needs and also has several eating joints to satisfy a range of palates.
This article covers a lot of the best Manipal has to offer in terms of food and retail but is by no means an exhaustive list of the plethora of options that’ll welcome the incoming batch to this wonderful little town. There’s a lot to be explored between classes—happy spending!
Featured Image Credits: Ujjwal Kumar