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Eating on the Floor in Comfort // Touristic Restaurants in India

Touristic & Continental Restaurants in India…
They’re Pretty Much the Best Ever!

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Maxin and Relaxin after a filling meal at the Green Cafe in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj, India
Maxin and Relaxin after a filling meal at the Green Cafe in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj, India

If it were socially acceptable, I would lay down before, during and after every meal.

In many of India’s popular backpacker and hippie hangout spots, this is possible.

From Hampi to Rishikesh, Bhagsu, Goa and beyond, travelers sit knee to knee sipping chai all day.

Quite often, my wife Carrie and I are among them.

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Shin-High Tables & Thin Mattresses

Truly, that’s all a restaurant needs to succeed in the Indian backpacker market; a phenomenon that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the world.

“Comfort” is attained by sitting on a thin mattress, similar to those found in many $3/night guesthouses. Back support comes from pillows and the occasion wall of debatable sturdiness.

The Office, in Rishikesh, had the best fruit salad with curd and granola that I've ever eaten!
The Office, in Rishikesh, had the best fruit salad with curd and granola that I’ve ever eaten!

A 6’3” guy like myself spends spend much of the meal shifting around. Sometimes I’m cross-legged. If not, then my legs are stretched under the table. This has been known to cause a round of unintended footsie with whoever is across from me. Hopefully, it’s my wife.

And yet I spend hours a day in these places and love every minute of it.

The Third-Eye Cafe in Rishikesh was on the top floor of a hotel and boasted sweeping views of the town, Ganges River and Himalayan foothills
The Third-Eye Cafe in Rishikesh was on the top floor of a hotel and boasted sweeping views of the town, Ganges River and Himalayan foothills

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Tired of Indian Food? Have Anything Else!

Singh Corner in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj, had both low-sitting tables and ones with regular chairs. They also had really good chai tea!
Singh Corner in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj, had both low-sitting tables and ones with regular chairs. They also had really good chai tea!

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Indian food. Eating a thali a day was one of the main reasons I was most excited to return to India. But sometimes, you just need a break from curry, rice and naan.

Imagine going to a restaurant at home and seeing pizza, falafel, omelets, chow mien, sandwiches, ziti, soup, shwarma, paneer, yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies on the same menu. It just doesn’t happen!

Yet somehow, these touristic and hippie-friendly restaurants in India have mastered the art of a full continental menu. Sure, they may not do everything well; sometimes they don’t do anything well. But the choices! So many choices.

(below, from left to right: egg curry & rice, Israeli Breakfast, Hello to the King. Hover over any image to learn more)

Egg Curry at the Green Cafe in Bhagsu An Israeli Breakfast (salad, pita, fries and hummus) at Oasis in Rishikesh, India Hello to the King - the best desert in the world - like a Hello to the Queen, but with Bhagsu Cake - at Munchies Cafe in McLeod Ganj

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Day Becomes Night @ the Same Table

People – especially my Mom – often ask what Carrie and I do all day when “relaxing in one place for a month.”

The Thai Restaurant down the stairs from our guesthouse in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj
The Thai Restaurant down the stairs from our guesthouse in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj

Some days, we hike around, see the sights, take a class or do something else touristic.

Other days, our activities consist of sitting at one or more of these restaurants, eating a variety of meals and drinking copious amounts of chai milk teas with a few lassies and ginger lemon honies mixed in.

Dreadlocks, backpacks, journals and laptops sit down at the tables nearby. Conversations are had. Plans are (sometimes) made. Days are recapped. After a while, it feels like we’re a part of a community: because we are.

The gang from Yog Peeth - Carrie's yoga training school - at Oasis on Lauren's 30th birthday
The gang from Yog Peeth – Carrie’s yoga training school – at Oasis on Lauren’s 30th birthday

 

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Musical Jam Sessions

Whenever a musical instrument enters the restaurant, Carrie and I get especially excited. You just never know when a jam session will break at the next table over…. Like this one, at the Green Café on our first night in Bhagsu, India.

A jam session on our first night in Bhagsu at the Green Cafe
A jam session on our first night in Bhagsu at the Green Cafe
 
The Green Cafe in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj, during a rockin' jam session
The Green Cafe in Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj, during a rockin’ jam session

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What do you think? Have you been to India and eaten at one of these types of restaurants? Did you like it? Why can’t we have them back home?

Share the Journey

  • http://www.tryanythingonceblog.com/ Terri

    I did go to one of these restaurants (in Pushkar, actually), but I was the stick in the mud and ate Indian food. Since I knew I was going home in a week, I wanted to wait to eat pizza and burritos that I knew I’d definitely like. Also my travel companions didn’t give the best reviews to the pizza and the burrito where we ate. We all could just be picky though. :) 

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Yeah, it’s tough to justify eating continental food when home food is so close! But when you’ve been gone for months and have no concept of when home will come, it’s like a beacon of light…even if the reviews are sub-par :) Thanks for your comment! 

  • http://twitter.com/travelshus TravelShus

    its nice to see a post in praise of restaurants like these! my husband has a lot of food allergies so we made local/continental places our staple in asia. not to mention, it is nice once in a while to have some non-local cuisine when you are in need of a change or missing home. but they get such a bad rap from some travelers who only see them as cheats as they still serve western food. But, in the kitchen, its the same kind people cooking the local food as are cooking local food in places that only serve local food.

    To me, these places are the reason we can travel to places we’ve only dreamed of.

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      I know, these restaurants really do get a horrible rap and I’m not sure why. I mean, you can’t complain too much if the pizza doesn’t taste like the stuff you’re used to back home…it’s close enough considering you’re thousands of miles away.

      I never though of it from a food allergy standpoint, but my wife is a vegetarian and also has a tough time finding food sometimes (not in India), and these Continental places are sometimes her best bet.

      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by :)

  • http://thecinnamonjourney.blogspot.com Reta

    When im in india, i can survive eating india food just in a week, even i thought im india food lover, but eat it 3x / a day, make me miss the taste of our land food. I try another menu, like pizza , chinese noodles and spaghetti, but my tongue feel like all the food taste same “curry taste” haha.

    Till im give up and make my own food order, “rice omelette with chop fresh chili and tomatoe”. And make the restaurant owner confused :)

    But im agree with you, india “hippies” style is great, i try in varanasi and hampi, we can just spend a lazy day there and enjoy the atmospher with a cup of hot chai.

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Wow Reta, your comment really just made me hungry! Thanks so much for stopping by and reminiscing your favorite Indian foods. And yes, I do agree that after a while it’s nice to have a break and try something different…. though I sometimes do believe that if I could eat a Thali every meal I’d be perfectly happy :)