Truth be told,you don’t go to Hampi for a fine dining experience. We were expecting home style south Indian food. Idli’s , dosa’s, vada’s, simple curries, Sāmbhar and rice. And we were happy to try some simple fare. Our only requirement was that the place be clean and people don’t rush us for food.We can make do with lunch at any hole in the wall place but dinners have to be relaxed and good. Otherwise it doesn’t feel like a vacation, in my humble opinion!
Our first two days in Hampi were a disaster as far as food was concerned. On the drive there, our colleagues had warned us to pack lunch as there are really not many options other than occasional dhabas and small stalls en-route till Raichur. The drive was covered with puris and parathas that we had made that morning. In Raichur there were restaurants options available where we ate on the way back. Shubhada was reminded of her childhood Kanada meals when we ate in Raichur. Simple, delicious and cheap!
Vijayshree Heritage Restaurant
The first evening, we wanted to try the Rajasthani thali at Vijayshree Heritage village. We went to their dining hall but were put off by the fact that we had to stand behind other people who are still having dinner so that we could grab their seat once they were done. I suppose it could have been managed better. Also, they told us they daal-Bati wasn’t on the menu that night but would be the next day. So off we went to have dinner in their adjoining restaurant.
We were promptly seated but it took forever to get water, appetizers and even plain rice for the kids. We got curries but they didn’t get the rotis. So we had to wait for them while the curries cooled off. When they did get rotis they only got the partial order. Again, we were left waiting. Finally about two hours later my friend had enough of this. She barged into their kitchen so we got some rice to eat with the now cold dal. Almost everyone in the restaurant were complaining about the poor service.
After a long drive from Hyderabad all we wanted was a hot and quick meal and get into bed but it was an ordeal.The worst part was the lack of management so it was utter chaos.
Breakfast at Vijayshree Resort
If previous nights dinner was any indication, the breakfast in the resort was even worse. Its included in lodging so most folks just go to the breakfast buffet. They ran out of stuff – idlis, sambhar, puris. There was no jam for the cold toasted bread. Or spoons to stir sugar in the sugar less tea. Not enough tables and chairs as families waited for others to finish.We are fairly certain they cannot manage the place in peak season when lot of folks descend on Hampi. Breakfast was fairly better and hot when on last morning there was a fifth of the crowd on the first day.
The best part of breakfast was their location – in a open terrace overlooking their gardens and animals farm where they rear the horses, camels and cows. Varun loved looking at the chirping birds as they came by where we ate and we were grateful for being able to sit in one place during our meal once we managed to get seated.
Lunch at Karnataka Tourists Department Restaurant
I don’t know the name of this restaurant but its the only place that is open for lunch in the Karnataka Tourist Departments Hotel. We went there as this is the only restaurant that’s close to the Royal center where we could sit down and eat, per our guide. Usually I am not a fan of the state departments restaurants and hotels. Based on experience in Maharashtra, Rajasthan when I was younger and recent experience in Srisailam I didn’t have any hopes. Kids were hungry and we chose an option that was closest to us. Also, we figured things couldn’t get any worse than what we saw at dinner and at breakfast.
Later we realized how wrong we were. There was a long queue for payment. Even though it was a buffet, you are given only one plate. They don’t give a plate till you pay first. They don’t allow you to pay if they don’t have sufficient plates on hand. Most of the food pans were empty except for curd rice which surprisingly was good given that it was untouched.
Vipul and Shantanu managed to get two plated full of curries and a plate of rotis for the table. When we tried to go for seconds another bus load of tourists had descended and hungry tourists were screaming for food and jostling around the buffet table trying to get whatever they could.
I have never felt more like an animal while trying to have lunch in my life. Only pictures of animals in Serengeti trying to find way to the water hole in peak summer comes to my mind. Avoid this place if you can.
Vijayshree Restaurant Rajasthani Thali
After a long day visiting Vithala Temple, Royal center , other temples in Hampi and watching the sunset we came back to the resort after a long day. Kids didn’t want to sit in the car again. they just wanted to run around. So we didn’t have a choice but to eat at Vijayshree. With the lure of daal – bati we went have the thali earlier than previous night hoping for lesser crowd.
Excuse the poor photos – they are all with my Iphone and the lights were dim.
We stood in a line behind other folks having dinner and once they were done, we sat down. It was fun sitting down and eating food. As a typical thali place, once most folks are seated, a person comes setting plates and cutlery on the table. Another server comes first with condiments (chutneys, papad and salt), followed by curries, rotis and rice. They keep coming back to replenish. Later they also served us dessert and buttermilk.
The meal was simple and delicious. The only bad part was people standing behind us goading us to eat faster and make room for them.
Mango Tree Restaurant
After our poor dining experience in Hampi so far, we were determined to have good food today. Not just good food but good service and ambiance Mango Tree comes recommended as #1 in Hampi and doesn’t fail. The walk through banana plantation and set under a huge Mango tree, this was a beautiful location overlooking the Tungabhadra river. Our hearts sank when we saw the shoes removed and kept in a shelf outside the restaurant ( you have to remove shoes to eat here). There were at least couple of hundred shoe pairs there. But the manager was really good, telling us when we can expect to be seated, asking us to form a line and maintain decorum while folks waited outside. He was so polite and cooperative -made us feel welcome and attended to even though it was super crowded.
When we were seated about 20 – 25 mins later, we were seated on the most unique seating. Little stone terraces overlooking the river. Low stone tables and slanted backrest so you could just stretch your legs, lean back and relax. Even though the place was thronged, they didn’t make us get up and leave when we were done.
We relished their thalis and buttermilk ( don’t miss!) while the kids had fries and finished the meal with fresh fruits from the plantation and nutella crepe! Don’t miss this place. I can only how imagine this place can be on a less crowded weekend.
Its only drawback its vegetarian only. But we ignored that given how tasty the food was. Finally food Gods had smiled on us 🙂
The night after our trip to Tungabhadra Dam, we went to Malligi restaurant for dinner. Great ambiance music, clean and good food. And at last drinks! We were there on Christmas eve and celebrated! Kids also loved this place. The restaurant is similar to any city, the food and service was what made us feel at home. Things that we take for granted adds a little dose of pleasure on the trip in an unexpected manner when they are not available.
Don’t miss this place if you are in Hospet.
That was our food round up. I am sure there are better restaurants or that if we had visited any other time of the year, we could have had better experience in the ones we tried. But we won’t recommend Vijayshree Heritage to any of our friends planning a trip. And as far as the Karnataka Tourism restaurant goes, it just confirmed my belief, state managed hotels and restaurants are not for young kids where the low levels of cleanliness and hygiene can cause stomach troubles. Stick to Tripadvisor ratings at least in small towns of India unless you have an iron stomach 😉