Ah, Kolkata! The city that feels like an old friend, and believe me when I say, nothing beats the friendship of a local dhaba. As for me? I’m your go-to foodie who’s journeyed through the streets of this grand city, following the scents of Butter Chicken, Butter Paneer, and Alu Paratha wafting through the air. It’s a smell that cuts across the city’s humidity, promising comfort at the end of a long day. These dhabas, with their rustic charm and hearty portions, are Kolkata’s unsung culinary heroes. They’re where I’ve laughed with friends, debated the latest cricket match, and unwound after work. So, come along as I share my personal odyssey, introducing you to the dhabas you simply can’t miss when in Kolkata. Prepare to be captivated and, of course, well-fed.
#1. Rang De Basanti Dhaba – A Sector V Staple That Never Disappoints
The Salt Lake Sector V area in Kolkata is like a beating heart for IT professionals and students alike, and nothing embodies its spirit better than Rang De Basanti Dhaba. With 8 branches spread across the city, this dhaba is more like an institution in itself, but my heart always takes me back to their oldest branch in Sector V, DN block. Whether you’re hungry after a long workday or simply craving good North Indian food, this place has got you covered.
Cuisine & Menu:
Primarily serving up delectable North Indian delights, their offerings are a foodie’s dream come true. I recently tried their special Iftar menu, and let me tell you, each dish was a revelation. From Mutton Haleem and Chapli Kabab to Chicken Lifafa and Fried Chicken, everything was impeccably prepared. The Chicken 65 was a spicy, tangy delight that complemented the other dishes really well.
But no visit is complete without sampling their regular favorites. The Chicken Biriyani and Mutton Biriyani are lip-smacking good, while the Chicken Kandhari and Chicken Khada Masala Roll are also must-tries.
The ambiance is quirky yet authentic, giving off a rustic Punjabi vibe. You’ll find a cool display tractor that’s perfect for Insta-snaps, and their Punjabi food-themed motivational quotes are Snapchat gold. It’s a relaxed environment, excellent for casual dining or chilling with office mates.
The service here usually is top-notch, ensuring that your meal is as enjoyable as possible. The staff serve food in unique, Desi Punjabi-style utensils which add to the overall dining experience. However, if I have to point out a downside, it would be the slow food service. Sometimes, the wait can test your patience, especially when you’re hungry as a wolf.
Considering the quality and variety of food they offer, the prices are reasonable. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are available, catering to a broader audience.
My time at Rang De Basanti Dhaba in Sector V has always been a delightful one, barring the occasional slow service. If you’re in the area and in the mood for some hearty North Indian fare, this is the place to be. And if you’re about that social media life, the decor offers plenty of snap-worthy opportunities. I, for one, am looking forward to my next visit.
So, whether you’re an IT professional, a student, or just someone passing through Sector V, make sure to stop by at Rang De Basanti Dhaba. It’s a culinary experience you won’t want to miss!
#2 Balwant Singh’s Eating House: Where Kolkata’s Midnight Cravings Find Solace
Ah, Balwant Singh’s Dhaba in Bhawanipore! This place is like a gastronomic club in the middle of the street, especially during midnight. If you haven’t ventured to this iconic eatery yet, you’re truly missing out on a cornerstone of Kolkata’s culinary culture.
Positioned in the posh hub of Bhawanipore, this Dhaba is in good company. The road is lined with several other top-notch dhabas and eateries, like Azad Hind Dhaba. For your sweet tooth, Sharma Snacks serves some mouth-watering jalebis, and Gupta Sweets offers an array of sweets from Ghewar of Rajasthan to Mathura’s Peda and Kolkata’s own baked rasgulla. These lanes are a food lover’s paradise, where the dishes are as diverse as the city itself.
Specialties and Offerings
The chai here is arguably the best you can find in Kolkata at midnight. It’s not just the chai, though. They offer a wide array of vegetarian foods at a reasonable price, making it a go-to spot for late-night cravings. One of their unique offerings is ‘Doodh Cola,’ a bizarre yet intriguing blend of milk and cola. Yes, you heard that right!
Recently, they’ve also introduced ‘Fanta Milk,’ another unusual combination that, like Doodh Cola, might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of milk, in this case). However, as they say, there’s an audience for everything.
My Personal Take
Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of their Doodh Cola, and it’s an acquired taste, to say the least. But don’t let that deter you; their North Indian dishes are where they truly shine.
So, whether you’re up for a culinary adventure with their unique beverage concoctions or prefer to stick to their delicious North Indian fare, Balwant Singh’s Dhaba offers something for everyone.
#3. Jai Hind Dhaba – 24 Hour Dhaba
Oh, let me tell you about Jai Hind Dhaba, a spot that’s always bustling, no matter what time it is. I’ve been going here for years, and they’ve never once disappointed me.
What to Love?
The aloo dopiaza is an absolute delight for vegetarians like me. However, it’s their chicken bharta that steals the show — it seems to be a staple for most patrons. If you’re health-conscious but still want to indulge, don’t skip their ‘fat-free’ rolls. Choose between chicken tikka or chicken reshmi kebab, all wrapped up in a roomali roti; it’s delicious and filling.
The late-night atmosphere here is something else. I popped in at 12:30 am once and was shocked to see the place jam-packed. It’s like the city’s after-party hotspot, always buzzing in the wee hours.
But it’s not just about the vibe. The food here is fresh, served quickly, and reasonably priced. I ordered a plate of chicken butter masala and paratha once, and it hit the spot. However, I’ll be honest, not all dishes are knockouts. The butter chicken was okayish, and the mutton masala wasn’t that impressive.
While the atmosphere and late-night servings are a big plus, the hygiene, particularly in the restroom, could be improved. It’s a let-down in an otherwise great experience.
Parking is pretty convenient; you’ll find spots on the street in front or across the road. And if the place is packed, you can always opt for car service; yeah, they’ll serve you in your car!
The Price Point
Just a heads-up, while the food quantity is sufficient, the prices can be a bit on the higher side. And unlike other places, the onion salad will cost you extra.
Service? Super fast. You won’t be twiddling your thumbs waiting for your food, that’s for sure.
In summary, Jai Hind Dhaba has its pros and cons but is still worth a visit, especially if you’re a night owl. The vibe is great, the food hits more often than it misses, and the speed of service is commendable. It’s one of those classic Kolkata spots that you have to experience at least once.
Happy dining, folks! 🌞
#4.Kya Baat Hai, Russell Punjabi Dhaba! A Kolkata Gem with a Hint of Bollywood Drama
Ah, Russell Punjabi Dhaba! Situated on the ever-happening Russell Street, right in the hub of Park Street, this iconic spot has its own tale to tell. Walking distance from Hotel Park, its location couldn’t be more convenient. So, let’s dive into my experience at this old-school Punjabi Dhaba.
Price vs. Taste
I’ve heard so much about Russell Punjabi Dhaba, so naturally, my expectations were sky-high. Starting with their chai, it’s priced at forty rupees a cup, which, even for the posh Park Street, seemed a little zyada. I mean, come on, it’s chai! Unfortunately, the taste didn’t live up to the steep price, especially when compared to iconic chai spots like “Harish Mukherjee” and “Kona Dukan,” which offer similar prices but a significantly better chai experience.
The Food: Delicious but a Bit Pricy
On the food front, my friends and I went all out. We ordered Chicken Bharta, Aloo Paratha, Paneer Paratha, onion salad, dahi, and plain roti. And let me tell you, the Aloo Paratha is to die for, even beating out its paneer counterpart. The Chicken Bharta? Ah, dil se khush ho gaye! It’s a must-try, no questions asked. Everything was fresh, tasty, and arrived quickly, thanks to their prompt service.
Atmosphere and Service
The place itself has an old-world charm, but could do with some renovation. Despite its slightly shabby interiors, the ambiance is delightfully vintage. However, I did find the service to be a bit slow, which is why I’d give it a 3/5 on that front.
Dishes to Die For
If you’re planning a visit, don’t miss out on the Chicken Bharta, Aloo Paratha with Butter, Egg Tarka, Dahi, and Tadka Dal. They’re all Bollywood-level blockbusters in their own right.
Final Thoughts: Yaar, Ek Baar Toh Jaana Hi Chahiye
Look, the place has its ups and downs. It’s a bit on the expensive side, especially the chai and samosas, but the food quality compensates for it. It’s an old dhaba with a nostalgic vibe, and despite minor flaws, it remains a Kolkata icon.
So, if you’re around Russell Street or Park Street and looking for some ‘Pind da Swad‘, Russell Punjabi Dhaba is the place to go. As we say in Bollywood, ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, toh phir main apne aap ki bhi nahi sunta — so go on, commit to a visit!
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 3/5
- Atmosphere: 3/5
Visit once, and I’m sure ke dil se aapko ye jagah pasand aayegi! 😁✌️
#5. Balle Balle Dhaba: Where Colors Pop but the Flavors Stop Short of a Standing Ovation
Location Ki Kahani
Located near City Centre in Salt Lake and opposite the Vasan Eye Care Clinic, Balle Balle Dhaba promises a colourful rendezvous right from the start. Parking isn’t an issue with available spots in the City Centre complex or on the main road near the restaurant.
Ambiance: Punjabi Cinema Meets Art Gallery
Now, this is where the dhaba really scores—its ambiance! The walls and ceilings are adorned with framed photos of popular Punjabi personalities and movie stills, which add to the overall masti and vibrancy. The place is quirky and filled with punchlines that will make you go, “Oye Balle Balle!” The outdoor seating area, though limited, adds an artsy touch to the experience. For this, I give the ambiance a full thumbs up, yaar!
Swad Anusaar Food
But ah, let’s come to the food. Here’s where my expectations met reality. While the famous Nalli Kebab and Adrak E Panje were “ek number,” the Chicken Rezala was a delightful surprise that left most Mughlai joints in Salt Lake biting the dust. However, not all that glitters is gold.
- Garlic Naan and Chicken Lababdar: Tasty but could be better.
- Chicken and Mutton Biriyani: Bhaai, yeh kya tha? Hard meat and a flavorless potato. A letdown, especially for Kolkata standards.
- Chicken Bharta: Generous and flavorful but lacking in aroma.
- Egg Tarka: Good, not too spicy, and quite flavorful.
- Tandoori Roti: Became crispy like a papad within minutes. Na baba na.
And what’s this—no complimentary onion, green chili, or lemon? Even roadside dhabas provide these!
Service: Thoda Aur Pyaar Chahiye
The servers are efficient but lack the warmth you’d expect at a “dhaba.” They are mostly order-takers than people you’d like to chat with.
Value for Money and Taxes
Considering the quality of food, I felt the prices were a bit too high. Additional VAT and Service Tax are applicable on top of the menu prices.
- Food Quantity: 3.6/5
- Food Quality: 3.2/5
- Food Presentation: 3.4/5
- Value for Money: 3.3/5
- Ambiance: 4.1/5
- Service: 3.5/5
So here’s the deal—Balle Balle Dhaba is a mixed bag. The ambiance is a hit, but the food could be a notch better. The place is good for late-night food cravings, especially given its location and timing. In short, “ambiance mein full-on Balle Balle, lekin khana mein thodi si siyappa hai!”
Cheers, dost! 🥳👍
Kolkata Dhaba Round-Up: A Tale of Five Eateries
Jai Hind Dhaba:
Suitability: Perfect for the night owls, after-party crowd, and North Indian cuisine aficionados.
Humorous Take: This is where Batman would eat if he were into Butter Chicken instead of fighting crime in Gotham. Let’s just say, “Dhaba, I am your customer!“
Suitability: Ideal for those who wish to experience the high-society dhaba life and don’t mind parting with a few extra rupees for the ambiance.
Humorous Take: Russell’s Dhaba—where the chai is as elite as the clientele. “Chai peelo, friends, lekin zindagi bhar yaad rakhoge!”
Balle Balle Dhaba:
Suitability: For Instagrammers and late-night hunger warriors in Salt Lake.
Humorous Take: This place is like a Punjabi wedding exploded and landed in a dhaba, minus the Aunties forcing you to dance. “Food mein thoda kam, wall decor mein full-on ‘Balle Balle!‘”
Balwant Singh’s Eating House:
Suitability: The one-stop-shop for tea and Indian fast food. Suitable for families, students, and anyone with a penchant for chai.
Humorous Take: You might come for the tea, but you’ll stay for the Doodh Cola. And yes, you’ll Google “Is Doodh Cola even a thing?” while sipping it!
Azad Hind Dhaba:
Suitability: Ideal for road trips and family outings, especially if you’re in the mood for a full-course meal.
Humorous Take: You come for the freedom to choose from a diverse menu, but you stay because the food traps you in a delicious cycle of “Aur ek plate!”
Whether you’re a nocturnal party-goer, a chai connoisseur, an Instagram enthusiast, a fusion-drink adventurer, or a traditional family diner, Kolkata’s dhaba scene has something for everyone. Choose your dhaba like you choose your friends—after considering if they’re night owls, financially draining, full of color, always up for tea, or just downright dependable. Happy dining, Dosto! 🤣🙏🍲