Manipal has been given many monikers, but its most popular identity is as a student town. Catering to their demands are various eateries strewn across Manipal, all within walking distance if one has the patience to do so.
It is hard to get into the palate of a Manipal resident without crossing through the landmark Temple town of Udupi. For those in Manipal as well, a vegetarian restaurant ‘Woodlands’ in Udupi is a must visit for a sumptuous meal. Their servings are anything but small, one can never complain about quantity after a filling lunch thali. As you make your way up the highway to Manipal from Udupi, a little haunt called ‘Prax’ to the right will be easy to miss. Their American Grill Chicken Platter comes with two large pieces of chicken lathered with a bit of gravy, along with sides of fries and buttered bread. The finger licking combo barely touches hundred rupees and is both tasty and, obviously, easy on the pocket.
Their squid burgers might just appeal to a vegetarian as well.
Though chains like KFC, Pizza Hut and Dominos dominate the stretch towards Syndicate Circle, if you turn to the right, a little way ahead would be the popular seafood joint, Fish Max. It is recommended to visit in groups to make the most out of the varieties of fishes they have on menu. Tiger Circle is the easiest location to squat on if confused about where to eat. Popular restaurant Pangala serves well made South Indian dishes whereas Tiwari Chat close by has the best gol-gappas in town. The Dry chicken lollipop and hariyali chicken at family restaurant Dollops is a must eat with their Indian breads.
Dollops’ Indian gravies have a lot to offer for vegetarians as well, and though their Indian section is delectable, the western dishes are only mediocre. Snack Shack is one of the most known restaurants in Manipal and with good reason. Their biggest clientele seems to be the students, to whom their creative platters appeal to best. Serving a plate of rice or noodles with the gravy of your choice, these platters have a little something for those with a penchant for sweets in their main course to those looking for something different. The Thai connection with creamy chicken gravy has just the right amount of spice while the Sweet Tango with chicken and pineapple tastes surprisingly good with rice and noodles. Not to forget is ‘potato lovers’, juicy and sweet potatoes with a sprinkling of cabbage and for desserts, the hot choco fudge and Death By Chocolate. A good three-course meal will cost less than ` 250 per head here.
The best starter in town is probably the Cheese Garlic toast or Cheese Chilli toast at Hangyo CTF. Nestled on a quiet curve near the Post Office, this restaurant’s malai tikka biriyani and baked macaroni and cheese with chicken cannot taste any better either. When moving towards the popular bar DeeTee, Manipal hands out a good number of tasty food outlets. The Kerala restaurant Zebra Spot decorated fully in black and white stripes has fluffy appams and parotas which taste good with their Chicken Ghee roast or the Chicken Ulathiyate. The highly economical restaurant is every ‘Mallu’s’ fallback option when bored in Manipal. Newly opened Biriyani Adda with just biryanis on the menu serves a humongous amount of lip smacking vegetarian, chicken or mutton variations with different spice levels. For healthy home cooked meals, Himalay Mess behind the medical campus is a great place to drop by. Not just the meals, their vegetarian and chicken momos are regarded the most authentic in town. After a relaxing stroll in the gardens at End Point, the Oreo shake at Planet Café or the Triple Shake at Cheff Inn will wash away any sign of exhaustion.