Aug 10, 2017
Crowded and chaotic Kolkata (also known as Calcutta) is India’s third most-populated metropolitan city, East India’s commercial capital and a major riverine port. Much like the city, the food is old world, traditional and a mash-up of local Bengali cuisine and those that still bear a colonial British hangover. Sure there are trendy new eateries, but the true flavour of the city is at the restaurants that have stood the test of time.
For the essential Kolkata eating experience, seek out those eateries that are still running to packed houses after being in existence for over 20, 30 or even a hundred years. Like visiting the pre-revolutionary buildings built by the British during their 200-year rule and travelling via the city’s vintage tram system, there is a certain charm to doing things the old way in Kolkata. Like the city and its people, the eating experiences can be equal parts chaotic and idyllic. From queueing up for sinfully sweet Bengali mishti (bite-sized confections) to coffee and intellectual conversation at a coffee shop from the 1940s, and varieties of biryani you cannot find anywhere else in the world – it all has to be experienced to be believed.
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Sure, there are roadside hawkers and luxurious hotel restaurants, and both contribute to the city’s foodscape, but that is a story for another article. Here, we explore the restaurants that Kolkata and her visitors have been eating at for several years, for good reason.