Imagine a city with French and Southern Indian fusion cuisine, with gorgeous, century-old colonial-era buildings and beautiful beaches, surrounded by warm, turquoise water. It exists: Pondicherry.
The southern city's cuisine is like no other in India. It combines recipes, flavors and methods from French cooking with regional Indian, often with touches of East Asian and Northern Indian influence.
With pleasant weather year-round, warm and welcoming people, delicious food, historic architecture and incredible nature, Pondicherry is a must-visit city.
Pink treats at Coromandel Cafe
Coromandel's iconic Pink Eggs Benedict
@coromandelcafe on Instagram
Set in a historical French colonial villa, serving freshly baked pastries and offering a green, sunny garden, Coromandel Cafe has a lot to offer.
Whether you're in the mood for traditional French steak or pork chops, or would rather start your day off with a warm and fresh-baked croissant or pain au chocolat, or even an afternoon tea with delectable eclairs, you can enjoy them all in this cafe.
They offer food and drinks that cater to many dietary options, including vegan cakes and pastries, vegetarian and vegan dishes and alternative milk options for hot drinks.
When the weather is cooler, you can enjoy your food and drinks in their beautiful garden — or if it's a bit too hot, fear not, they also have a large indoor air-conditioned space, also known as La Maison Rose, which features unique pink decorations throughout as well as many pink-themed dishes, including their pink "Eggs Benny" and their pink hummus.
Indian news outlet, News 18, says that "Once you enter Coromandel cafe, you will be smitten by the attractive interiors and lavish arrangements".
Seafood on the sand at Finz
Pondicherry is a seaside city, so the seafood is extra fresh — and extra delicious. Finz is a seafood restaurant located in a hotel near the beach. What makes it unique? Its seafood dishes are served outdoors, with tables right on the sand, leaving you feeling like you're already at the beach.
Locals and tourists alike have raved about the restaurant's seafood chowder, grilled snapper and prawns, crab curry and creamy shrimp. The seafood is caught fresh right from the Pondicherry shore.
If you're not too fond of seafood but still want to enjoy the atmosphere, there are plenty of delicious vegetarian, vegan and chicken dishes too, such as the chicken curry, biryani, spicy pepper chicken and vegetable curry.
Northern Indian vegetarian food at #Dilliwaala6
Curry, garlic naan, vegetable biryani and homemade sauce at #Dilliwaala6
@dilliwaala6 on Instagram
Set in a typical Pondicherry mustard villa, #Dilliwaala6 is a Northern Indian vegetarian restaurant loved by locals.
Their menu features many different vegetable, potato and lentil curries, rice and biryani dishes, Chinese-Indian fusion dishes, different types of samosas, naan, chaat and salads.
They also have a wide variety of milkshakes, Indian style lemonades — including strawberry, hibiscus, ginger, tamarind and mint — and mocktails.
The restaurant has an indoor and outdoor section, often hosts musicians and performers, and is budget-friendly.
French Indian fusion at Chez Francis
As Pondicherry was a French colony in previous years, French cuisine has had a profound impact on their dishes. Chez Francis features French and Indian fusion food.
Indian tour company and media outlet Tusk Travel says that Chez Francis is a restaurant in Pondicherry "not to be missed", noting the "romantic and peaceful ambience".
Popular dishes include the creole crevette (creole-style prawns), French-Indian style roasted chicken, curry-crusted fish and the stir-fried okra.
Clients have also praised the restaurant's vegan pistachio and vanilla ice cream as well as the friendly and welcoming staff, so you're sure to feel at home.
Chez Francis is located in a beautiful French colonial style building and courtyard, where you can be among trees and plants and enjoy the sunshine as you eat your food.
Gourmet French cuisine at La Villa
A private breakfast for two at La Villa
Nested in a French colonial villa, a dinner lit only by candles, the highest quality and freshest ingredients, dish plating turned into an art form — La Villa is a truly gourmet experience.
Whether you're in the mood for a romantic dinner, a relaxed breakfast, a filling yet gourmet lunch, a seven-course tasting menu, or even a small treat or drink, La Villa is a must-try restaurant in Pondicherry.
Serving French style cuisine with Italian, Spanish and Indian elements, the food is raved about by locals and tourists. Menu highlights include the ever-changing five- or seven-course tastings, moringa soup, gazpacho, prawn curry (served in a coconut!) pastas, salads, steak and more. Their apple and lemon tarts are also a hit.
Indian Magazine Architectural Digest Indiapraises the restaurant's beautiful, unique setting, highlighting the gigantic trees, birdsong, proximity to the beach and antique building design.
East and South East Asian food with a view at Bay of Buddha
Bay of Buddha is a rooftop restaurant with a spectacular view of the Pondicherry coast. The restaurant, right on the beach, features Thai, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian and Japanese cuisine.
Local favourites include the Thai green curry, grilled fish, Nasi Goreng, dim sum, cashew chicken, fried noodles and grilled tiger prawns.
The restaurant also features a bar with a plethora of cocktails on the menu, the barman has also been known to make personalized cocktails for some customers.
The best time to go to Bay of Buddha is during sunset, so you can see the sun setting on the sea and hear the waves calming down, however, they remain open from late morning till late at night.
Cool down with some gelato at Gelateria Montecatini Terme
Some displayed gelato flavors at Gelateria Montecatini Terme
Boasting over 60 unique flavors, Gelateria Montecatini Terme has thousands of reviews including "best gelato ever!" and "a must must must try in Pondicherry!", on Sluurpy India, a restaurant rating website.
The Gelateria does have standard chocolate, vanilla, pistachio and strawberry, but their menu has some unique flavours, including lovers chocolate (chocolate, almond and cherry), cashew, Himalaya salted caramel, Bacardi (yes, the rum), Russian Flair (apple and vodka) and Iran blend (almond, pistachio and hazelnut).
After a long day at the beach, or after cycling around the French quarter, a cold ice cream is needed — and there is no better place to have one than Gelateria Montecatini Terme.
Drink and dance the night away at WTF
Way To Fly, better known by locals as WTF, is a popular bar known for its fun atmosphere, large dance floor, delicious cocktails and great DJ.
With neon lights everywhere, delicious food and eccentric cocktails, WTF is the place to have a fun and (hopefully) memorable night.
Their garlic bread and garlic mushrooms are adored, as are their creole and masala prawns, curries and pizzas. They boast a cocktail menu featuring over 30 unique cocktails, ranging from light to very strong. Their Spicy French Kiss and Mr Jack cocktails are particularly popular.
Unstumbled, an Indian travel guide website, puts WTF in its top 10 best bars and pubs in Pondicherry, saying that it is a must for party animals, its cocktails are budget-friendly and that "you won't be able to resist the urge to dance."
Spotlight: Michelin Chef Michel Christmann
Christmann has been the executive chef at La Villa, where he curates gourmet meals with a European and Indian twist. He creates five- and seven-course tasting meals for clients, making plating an art form.
He travels around India, creating unique dishes – always using high quality local ingredients – presented in the most artistic and beautiful manner.
On his website, Christmann quotes Curnonsky, a famous French gastronomer and culinary critic from the 19th century, "Cooking is the things taste like what they are." He likes to emphasize the natural tastes of the foods he creates, and does not like to alter them.
He says that he creates, "A cuisine of aesthetics serving taste." Customers at La Villa adore his beautiful and delicious dishes, always coming back to the restaurant for more.
Must-try activity: South Indian cooking class
After eating such delicious food around the city, wouldn't you like to learn how to make it at home?
At this South Indian cooking class, you can choose from a wide variety of dishes to make, according to your tastes and dietary needs, then go to a traditional Pondicherry market to pick up your ingredients.
You will be guided by a local professional chef from Pondicherry throughout the class, from getting ingredients, to preparing and making the food, and even plating and eating it properly.
The food in Pondicherry is so delicious that you can't leave without learning how to make it yourself.
- Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Madrid ›
- Gùsto! How, What, Where Locals Eat (& Drink) In Beijing ›
- India Grows More Food Than It Needs, Yet Hunger Persists ›
- An Omelet Twist, How A Colonial Legacy Lives On In Vegetarian India ›