We spent a week in central Bengaluru while getting registered with the FRRO (we’ll save that debacle for another post), and really enjoyed getting to know the area outside of UB City, an upscale mall with over-priced restaurants and stores like Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuitton. We were staying near the mall, so we initially thought it would be a good landmark for auto drivers to bring us home, which it was, but we couldn’t find an auto for less than 100 RS (waaaay too much for such a short lift) because it is where all the foreigners and rich people go to hang out, and the auto drivers take advantage of that. Despite being put up near UB City by the Fulbright, our wallet and our overall outlook on life kept us from entering, so we explored the streets and venues just beyond the mall center and discovered an array of eclectic parks, eateries and hang outs. Here is our shortlist of must-sees if you find yourself in that area of Bengaluru on a budget and/or with a desire for authentic cultural experiences.
1. Cubbon Park
This park is enormous, and absolutely fantastic. Cubbon is a staple on any travel site for what to visit in Bengaluru, and we are so happy we took the recommendation. We took a stroll every day during our week-long visit and still didn’t get through the entire park, which is simultaneously landscaped and wild, exhibiting a variety of flora, including a massive bamboo forest, lush bushes, voluptuous and colorful flowers and a canopy of trees that distributes a magical light over the paths and gardens. This park also seems to be a haven for young couples wanting to take long strolls and to engage in PDA (which is not typically socially acceptable in India) on the benches, away from a parent’s gaze. We discovered, too, that it is a place where workers take naps during the day, so you will see men curled up in certain areas, all completely asleep under some large trees. This park, buzzing with life, love and dreaming men, is free to explore and easily found on Google Maps or by asking any local. See more pictures of Cubbon park on our Instagram, MissMiss_travel.
2. Airline Hotel Café
Airline Hotel Café is nestled behind a kulfi shop, across from the park at Corner House ice cream by St. Marks Circle . If you think those directions are wonky, it’s because this place is totally hidden from the main road, but once you find it, you will know it by its open patio where people come and go all day, enjoying the many tasty South Indian treats offered. Walking in, one is greeted by tree-covered tables where families and friends gather on the regular. It may look rustic, but the food is safe and delicious. Miss S’s favorite meals, Channa Batura, famously perfect at the Airline, consists of a crispy but soft, fried bread (batura) and a chickpea masala (channa). The fresh, semi-sweet bread is rolled and fried to twice the size of Miss K’s head! And it’s a perfect match for the spicy channas. We also highly recommend the traditional Indian coffee, which is to die for at the Airline. We normally take our coffee black, but we went all out with sugar and milk here…and you will have to as well. Two coffees and one Channa Batura was enough for the two of us and was under 400 RS, which is extremely well priced. We highly recommend this place for a meal, snack or just as a place to escape the city craze and enjoy a chill and delicious afternoon hangout.
3. CornerHouse Ice Cream
Corner House Ice Cream was highly recommended online, and we were happy to discover it was, true to its name, right around the corner from our guest house. We stopped here directly after our coffee and snack at Airline Hotel Cafe, as it is literally across the way. They have an assortment of classic and unique flavors such as Rum Raisin, Rocky Road and Fig & Honey, but Miss K was more than satisfied with the Caramel Crunch. The flavors and texture of the ice cream was at par with our favorite cold treat joint in Denver, Liks (on 13th and Vine). Corner House has a nice seating area and a little playground for the kiddos, and is well priced at 60-80 RS per scoop.
4. Kabab Korner
Kabab Korner is located on St. Marks Road, which has a handful of well priced food options to discover. Kabab Korner has a full menu, with Indian and Chinese options, but when we saw the Kati rolls, we looked no further. Miss S highly recommends the Chilly Paneer Rumali Roll (it’s veg!), and Miss K ordered the Chicken Kabab Rumali Roll, twice. Make sure to get the Rumali roll as opposed to a regular one, as the thin pita-like bread is scrumptious and really soaks up all the flavors of the filling. Each roll comes with a side of green chutney and onions, which we stuffed right inside our rolls. Some online reviews suggest KK is a bit pricey for the size of the roll, but we thought it was the perfect size for a lunch or light dinner and that the price was on point. Each roll was about 1/2 the size of a Chipotle burrito and was only 150-200 RS, which is $2-3 USD per roll. The robust spice and flavors made the roll a treat we woke up craving, and at that price, we were happy to enjoy KK a few times.
We wanted to put Bootleggers on this list as it was the only bar that had reasonable alcohol prices in the UB City area. When we first arrived in Bengaluru after a four day journey of traveling across the world and going through the registration process , all we wanted was a f%*&ing beer. The Bier Club across the street was good, but the food was overpriced and the craft beer, though decently priced, was sub par and reminiscent of a Coors Light with little texture or surprise in the flavor (we are true Colorado beer snobs). So when we discovered you could get a pint of Kingfisher, a decent Indian beer, for less than 100 RS and a pizza for 200 RS, we were all in. We enjoyed this dark, pub-like atmosphere. They featured female WWF wrestling on the TV (the wait staff was glued to the screen, so they pulled down a separate screen for us), which made all the stress of registration somehow melt away. They also opened the bar specifically for us when everything was closed during the Caulvery water protests, which was really cool because everything else was closed and, being in a guest house without any food, we were hungry. The waiter was really nice and was happy to have us in the bar. We recommend Bootleggers if you are missing home (you don’t have to tell anyone you had great pepperoni pizza in India) and/or just need a cheap ass beer and a solid WWF storyline to lose yourself in.
If you have other UB City area recommendations that are well-priced and authentic, please comment about them below.Follow//Our adventures