Well Café [Auroville]

We will go anywhere for food. Seriously, anywhere.

That explains why we took an hour long ride in the hot sun, after a scuba session (❤) to reach the forest region of Auroville. Hidden away in the interiors of Auroville, you will find many a treasure and Well Café is one such treasure.

Wilderness is that word that defines this place the best.

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Why we recommend this café?

Firstly, the food is insanely good. It is simple yet amazing. The café specialises in Mediterranian cuisine with lots of hummus, falafel, salads and more. The options are limited and the food is prepared fresh by the local women.

Secondly, the ambience is amazing. An open garden café with random chairs strewn under a thick canopy of trees whose trunks are covered in colourful sarees. You will find crafts made from recycled paper hanging from above. Chirping birds, a dog or two, and a few really colourful insects (we did not know God made these, this colourful too) are your company. But don’t let this worry you, sometimes, such an ambience can do wonders!

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Thirdly, the café and the entire WELL centre (that includes a handmade paper shop, art gallery, etc. ) is managed by women for the empowerment of women in this area. This place gives you a peek into their lives. Spend some time and chat with the locals and they will share their stories with you! There also is a homestay next door and in case, living amidst a thick cover and with locals is your calling, you should definitely check out this place.

Fourthly, this café also hosts musical nights and other events from time to time. The ambience is then transformed to one of those mid forest camping-party style places which makes it even more awesome.

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We tried the Mint Cooler here which was a bit too sweet for us but was minty none the less. What we absolutely love and still lust over are the Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette and the Eggplant & Labane Baguette. 

First I burned my tongue fighting over the super hot vegetable omelette and now I am drooling all over my laptop at the thought it. This cannot be good!

Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette – The vegetable omelette was delicious on its own. Thick and so well spiced, it had onions, coriander and more. The curd cheese that was spread over the crispy pieces of bread was heavenly. Yup, we did lick it off the plate! If only we could fill like a jar or a room with it and bring it back to Mumbai!! These were served with three salads, a beetroot and cream based, a mixture of cabbage, beetroot, carrots & more and another one which had a little tart due to the addition of vinegarette.

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Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette

Eggplant & Labane Baguette – Labane or curd cheese spread generously over the crispy bread which was then topped with smoked eggplant slices. This was another delight! This was also served with salads, with a pepper spiced cauliflower based salad being one of the portions served.

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Eggplant & Labane Baguette

Well Café is a place you would enjoy as much for the food and courteous, smiling service as you would for the peaceful escape it provides from all forms of chaos!

If you are ever in Auroville, this is definitely a place you should check out!

P.S.: Trust Google Maps, even if you feel it has lost its mind! It will bring you here.

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Well Cafe [Auroville] – Google Maps

Well Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Café 792 [Dadar]

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Café 792 is a dose of fresh air amidst chaos and cacophony.

It is, quite literally, hidden away in a cozy corner in Dadar’s Parsi Colony. If not for the bold red circular sign at the entrance that reads Café 792, no one would be able to guess, that this heaven exists!

Café 792 is a small, quaint and peaceful café that can and will make you smile in awe. The circular sign that we spoke about stands next to the entrance of a building, in whose backyard lies this wonder. On the concrete wall is painted Café  792 in a way that you cannot miss. A gravel laden path leads us to a few tables and further to the entrance of the café. We have walked 10 steps on the gravel path and we look at each other with a broad smile. A smile that affirms the thought that we have found treasure!

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Café 792 is a Parsi owned and run café that serves an impressive variety of food from the Parsi staples to sandwiches, wraps, salads, mawa cake and more! They are the sort of place that makes a few things fresh while some are pre-cooked, heated and served. The café being a Parsi one, there are very few vegetarian options, basically, one-two in each category, so better not be very choosy if you are a vegetarian. The café also has a pre-decided lunch menu that is set for the entire month. This is majorly because they have a whole lot of deliveries and a set menu helps.

The people who run the café are soft spoken and friendly.  You will find a lot of patrons who come, give the order, patiently wait and head away with their parcels. You will also find people just sitting in a corner, sometimes even on the small wall near the plants and just sipping on tea and going about their work. The green canopy, the chirping birds and the setting of the café as a whole are welcoming and consuming. You will not want to get up and leave this place.

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Cheese Croissant

We tried a few items from the menu and were more than happy with most of them! Cheese Croissant left us with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It was perfect with oodles of cheese, just yumm!!

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Veg Mozzarella Wrap

Veg Mozzarella Wrap was excellent! Scratch that, it was beyond excellent. Lots of veggies, from broccoli to capsicum and a whole lot of cheese. Sounds meh? But what added the magic was oregano. Not only did it add a mouth-watering aroma, but also made the simple wrap a lot more interesting.

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Veg Burger

Veg Burger with a crunchy and delicious patty, cheese and veggies was a delight. It wasn’t extraordinary, but basic is all you need at times!

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Cold Coffee

Veg Slider was a mini and hipster version of our desi vada pav! Small, soft buns with a patty and cream cheese, it is something you will want to gobble down in tens!

Veg Puff was sort of confusing for us. It was more like a quiche and had a stuffing of spinach and other veggies. We liked the stuffing nonetheless!

Cold Coffee was unfortunately just average but what helped was the Lemon and Mint Iced Tea.

 It was the perfect blend and super refreshing.

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Lemon & Mint Iced Tea

The peaceful ambience made us want to spend the rest of the day, curling up in a corner, sipping on iced tea and reading a book. Who are we to say no to that need? So we spent hours here, reading, occasionally chatting and always sipping or munching on something!

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If you are tired of the mindless chatter and need a break, head to Café 792, but shhh… don’t tell everyone! Let this be the hidden gem that it is!

PS: With multiple orders of the iced tea and all that food, our bill came to a mere ₹665. We did mention this place was pocket-friendly, right?

Café 792 – Google Maps

Café 792 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Artika Café [White Town, Pondicherry]

First look at Artika Café and you feel like you are in a slow motion video of some lost town. Time probably, literally stops here! Artika Café is one of the best places to laze around in Pondicherry.

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It is essentially a black and white shot, with a random table or two adding the colours. Dry leaves and white bougainvillaea decorate the courtyard, giving the feel of a never-ending autumn. The quietness here can be the brand ambassador for Pondicherry’s ‘Peaceful Pondicherry’ tagline! This peacefulness is what drew us here and kept us here and what made us never want to get up and leave!

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A narrow and beautiful shrub covered path led us to the graffiti and mural covered courtyard. There are a few tables in the open courtyard and a few lounge chairs in the shade covered area to just stretch and relax.

There are a few tables inside as well, in an old, pretty worn-out house but we chose outside, obviously!

There is an art gallery and a shop inside, which sort of seems like the thing in Pondicherry!

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Once we had taken in the amazing surroundings and rested for a few good minutes, we asked for the menu. The menu is another surprise. They give you a big handmade paperboard menu that is hand written – art all the way, we say! There are quite a few breakfast options, sandwiches, baguettes and crepes to pick from. They have some really good combos to pick from. The food ranges from affordable to average pricey but one can easily find something according to their budget. Another good thing here is the free WiFi for as long as you want. The service is prompt and super friendly.

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We had a Ratatouille and Cheese Sandwich. The aroma of the ratatouille being prepared made our mouths water! The sandwich was delicious, non-spicy ratatouille with lots of veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and more with lots of mozzarella cheese! It was lip-smacking!

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Ratatouille and Cheese Sandwich

We also had Mango Lassi which was more like thick mango pulp smoothie! It was very refreshing and filling!

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Mango Lassi & Fresh Lime Juice

Artika Café and Gallery should be where you head to, to chill on a hot summer day or to get your work done in peace. And if nothing, a few hours of peace don’t hurt!

We had an amazing time at Artika Café, do tell us about yours!!

Artika Café [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Artika Cafe Gallery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kasha Ki Aasha [White Town, Pondicherry]

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When you first enter this house, that is what you will feel, you have entered someone’s really well-kempt home and there is no way that a café exists here. But worry not, pass by those rooms with handicrafts and khadi kurtas and bags and you reach the centre of the home which again reinforces your belief that this is someone’s home and you are trespassing!

With a small central verandah with lots of flowers, a metallic statue of the dancing God and a few females going about their business, it has got to be a home, no? Well, it is, but it is a home converted to an art gallery and also houses a café upstairs.

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We had similar apprehensions that said maybe, we are at the wrong place or maybe, there is another entrance but the women near the stairs smiled and told us that the café is upstairs. Breathing a sigh of relief that we have to be hungry no longer, we climbed up the narrow staircase to come face to face with the rooftop café and then… and then we smiled!

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Kasha Ki Aasha is a dream we all had but never got. A terrace with cane furniture to laze on, lots of plants to keep it cool…. a space where we could relax and spend all our days and evenings and maybe even nights! Away from the chaos and cacophony, one can chill and be at peace at this café for as long as they want. And delicious homecooked food doesn’t hurt either!

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We spent hours here, hogging and just sitting, doing nothing, at some points not even talking…just being quiet! That is the type of place Kasha Ki Aasha is. And if you love such places, you will love this one!

The women who run the café come upstairs from time to time to ask for any order or you can go to the stairs and holler for someone but apart from that, they let you be. No one keeps poking asking if you want anything more, something we Mumbaikars, or for that matter, metro-dwellers are not used to!

The café is open only until 7 p.m. which is really sad considering the ambience is perfect for spending your evenings!!

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Coming to the food, they have a small menu and also serve some specials apart from the menu. The quantity is decent and one cannot help feel that the prices are a little high. That kept aside, the food is delicious! Their European and Thai thalis are hot selling and pretty famous! They also serve beer and wine. We stuck to mostly Indian options or Indian with a twist. Here’s what we tried and loved:

Traditional Indian Breakfast – Soft steamed idlis with a bowl of sambhar and a groundnut and coconut based chutney.  The sambhar is non-spicy but had the perfect maa-ke-hath ka taste! The quantity of sambhar is a little less and you may have to ask for another bowl. The chutney is delicious too, with no hint of spiciness.

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Traditional Indian Breakfast

Chappati & Dal Fry – Two large and soft chappatis with slightly crispy centres and a small bowl of dal. Dal again was non-spicy but yummy with lots of onions and ginger. This preparation is again served with the chutney.

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Chappati & Dal Fry

Pizza Dosai – Before we tell you what it is, we will tell you that it is delicious!! Two plain uttapams with lots of veggies on top – chopped tomatoes, onions, capsicum and more. This is then finished with lots of cheese! It tastes very slightly sweet owing to the tomato based sauce used to mix the veggies and the batter but the combination overall is amazing and something different!

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Pizza Dosai

Onion Dosai with Chutney – Crispy and thin onion dosas. These were again bang-on yummy and can be had even without that chutney!

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Onion Dosai with Chutney

Black Bean Burger – The black bean burger has two black bean based cutlets with a slightly charred and smokey flavour, topped with tomatoes, capsicum and onions. It is served with a cold macaroni salad that is spiced with black pepper and is delicious. Each of these can be had separately and the combination is lip-smacking.

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Black Bean Burger

All in all, Kasha Ki Aasha is an amazing place with good food and should find its way to your list of places to visit in Pondicherry!

Kasha Ki Aasha [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Kasha Ki Aasha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In Bandra and Looking for an Escape from Chaos? Head to One of These 7 Cafés and Breathe easy!

There is no dearth of options in Bandra, be it in terms of food or shopping or for that matter pretty sights! But then there is no shortage or traffic and crowd and total chaos as well.

The next time you are in Bandra and want to skip the madness, head to one of these cafés and relax!

Eat Around The Corner

True to its name, it is located in a corner of a lane, far away from the hustle and bustle. The café is beautiful and trendy with comfortable indoor seating and dreamy outdoor one. They have a large variety of grub to offer from, ranging from salads to burgers and the desserts here are to die for! Grab a corner outside, under the trees and enjoy a cup of coffee and a red velvet pastry. Or make that two pastries, ‘coz no one is watching!😉

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Red Velvet Pastry – Eat Around the Corner

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Bombay Coffee House

Bombay Coffee House is a beautiful and peaceful coffee shop on linking road. There is a variety of coffee on offer along with some delicious croissants and pastries. They also have books and board games if that is your calling for the day. What we love is to sit by the window and be lost in our work while the world goes by – Linking road is that busy, we all know it! Bombay Coffee House will be your safe heaven on this busy road!

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Gunline Coffee – Bombay Coffee Shop

♥ The Bagle Shop

Tucked away in a corner of Carter road, many do not know this place exists, let alone that it serves kick-ass bagels! You will find many, who just come here to work and/or discuss in silence or just enjoy a good cup of coffee. The ambience is cozy and the greenery makes it cool. The Bagle Shop should be your go to place for fresh air, a bagel and a smoothie.

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Birdsong – The Organic Café

Hidden away from the world in one of Bandra’s narrow bylanes is this amazing café  – great place, almost straight out of a song! Calm and tranquil ambience. It is one of the places you wanna get lost in for hours. They serve delicious organic food although it definitely is pricey. Go here for a great cup of coffee and a corner to immerse yourself in a great book or a good conversation.

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♥ Desi Deli

Although Desi Deli is located on a really busy street and is an open air café, it makes for a good option if you want to just stop by and watch. They serve delicious breakfast options and smoothies or you can go simple with a strong cup of coffee!

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♥ Pali Village Café

Pali Village Café is much more than just a café. It is an exquisite experience. The place is quaint and has a very vintage feel to it. It is not easy on the pocket for sure, but worth the visit be it for lone musings or cozy conversations.

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Candies (Pali Hill)

As mainstream as this recommendation sounds, it is a place worth mentioning. The Pali Hill outlet of Candies is both chaotic and peaceful. Pick your favourite corner and be lost there for hours on end, no one will question your presence. We love the rooftop areas, they are just perfect!

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Although it is not exhaustive, but hope this list helps you with your Bandra musings!

Did we miss any place that should have made it to the list? Mention it in the comments! 🙂

Aleph – The Divine Space [Juhu]

The Greatest Secrets are Always Hidden in the Most Unlikely Places – Roald Dahl
And we are going to tell you a secret today. ‘Coz we are feeling especially generous!
Why?
Because some stories demand to be shared and told.
One such story is about the amazing place started by first-time restaurateur Kishin Thakur. How and when this place – Aleph, The Divine Space, came about is his to tell but we are here to tell you the story of how much we have loved this place!
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A house to a ‘yoga retreat’ by morning and a stage for musical gigs and book readings come evening. And during this transition, it serves as a co-working space for the serious and a café with a wholesome grub for the others.
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Located in the same vicinity as Prithvi Café,  Aleph is hidden from plain sight.
Look through the canopy of trees and you will see the name Aleph displayed in prominent red. Once you have successfully located the place, you have to locate the entrance.
It would have left us confounded if not for the staff who waved at us and guided us through the thin lane up to the entrance of the café. Don’t be worried if you see yourself walking from near a salon and the backside of buildings, you are going in the right direction.
No point searching this place on Zomato, it is not listed there.  That’s why we are here – You can either approach Aleph TDS from the narrow lane next to Café Moshes or from the main entrance to Janki Kutir, take the first left (Maya Salon) and another left and you will see a board saying Aleph TDS…..and voila, you are here.
Spread over two floors, Aleph is a beautiful café with colourful decor, walls painted and drawn on by patrons, books stacked up in a corner, card and board games, really comfortable and cosy ambience. The lower floor is an indoor section and there is a rooftop seating as well. There are mattresses for low seating, high seats, low stools like modas and sofas to choose from.
We picked a spot on the rooftop. The walls here are painted with random things by the customers. The owner and staff offer you to leave your mark on these walls too! They give you the paints and brushes, you pick a spot and get painting!
Aleph is peaceful and calm and just amazing! Covered in trees and plants and has a very very homely feel to it. Soft music plays in the background which again can be picked by the customers. Aleph TDS is what this city needs in every nook and corner. A no-fuss space that suits the needs of most of us.
Want to work/study and need a quiet space and a WiFi connection? ✔
Want to spend a quality evening with your friends over card games and coffee? ✔
Want to test your skills in the kitchen?✔
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Yes, even the last one. Aleph has a small kitchen and they allow people to make their own food (from their menu that is) if they so choose.
So you wanna try that Kale Soya Burger? Give it a shot in the kitchen and the staff will guide you through it.
They have a small menu but cover a decent variety. We love the Positivi- Tea Only and Sippin’ on Sunshine section with so many varieties of tea and coffee. Cold Coffee specials are decided separately and you can ask them for the options. They have mouthwatering dessert jars and waffles. Their burgers are especially tempting with unique patties and sauces.
Pick from Mac & Cheese, Kale Soya, or Falafel patty and toss in a little bit of Wasabi Mayo, Garlic Aioli, Mexican Chipotle, or Garlic Hummus. A variety of toppings is also available along with a number of non-veg options.
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We tried Nutella Cold Coffee (₹250), Hazelnut Cold Coffee (₹250) and Chocolate Cold Coffee (₹250).
They were really good with a proper combination of flavours and coffee, but we pick the hazelnut one which was particularly refreshing. The Nutella Cold Coffee had a little too much of the nutty flavour for our liking and Chocolate Cold coffee was a bit too sweet. so you can choose to tell the staff your preference and they will make it less sweet for you if you like!
We also tried the Fruit Bliss Iced Tea which was fruity and refreshing!
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Fruit Bliss Iced Tea
We went a little overboard with the first burger we tried – Mac & Cheese Patty, Multigrain bread and all the sauces and toppings! Yes, all!
That makes it a little difficult for us to describe the burger but all we can say is that it was delicious. A deliciously confusing mess! 😍 🍔
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Mac & Cheese Burger
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We then tried our hand at making the Grilled Paneer Patty Burger.
We chose Garlic Aioli, Mexican Chipotle and Minty Mayonnaise as the sauces this time.
The staff helped us deck up our burger which was delicious.
Chipotle added a little spice and the mint mayo added the sweet and refreshing minty flavour.
The patty was delicious too. Loved it! 🍔
The burgers are priced at ₹290.
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Grilled Paneer Burger
Aleph – TDS is now coming up with a breakfast menu that they will serve from 8 am to 11 am every day. Complete with eggs and Indian options, this is something we look forward to. They are also planning or starting movie night here, so gear up for kickass movies every week. All this when we thought this place could not get more awesome! 😉
This place becomes insanely beautiful in the late evenings and night with the colourful lights and music. Heaven!
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There are times when all of us need a place to unwind and be away from the chaos of our daily lives. The next time you are feeling this feeling, head to Aleph.
But shhh….. keep this a secret!
Overall Experience: The staff and owner are very friendly. They make sure to take your feedback on whatever they prepare and about your experience at the café.
The ambience is such that you never want to get up and leave. Homely and relaxing.
Food 🙂
Ambience 🙂
Service 🙂
The Battle: Having to get up and get back to traffic and drama and work is so difficult after finding a safe heaven like this!!
Timings: 8 am to 10 pm
Cost for 2 (food & beverages only): Around ₹ 800 – ₹1000
Our meal came to ₹1530