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

Canteen 18 [Heritage Town, Pondicherry]

Sometimes, wrong roads lead people to the right places.

One such wrong road led us to discover Canteen 18. We were headed towards our hotel to deposit our bags and we saw a small little eatery, at the corner of a street, just in the passing. Little did we know, a split second would have that much impact. The moment we were fresh and ready to feed our growling tummies, the first place that we mentioned, together, was that small eatery at the corner – Canteen 18!

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We walked to the eatery, located in the lane behind the busy MG Road. A sharp contrast from the chaotic main road, this street and Canteen 18, both, are a solace. First look, and you are bound to smile. A small cooking area, with 3 tables and a capacity to seat not more than 10 people, this place is charming in all certainty.

The place is run by two people and sees an influx of locals and foreigners alike. The menu is not very large in general and really small, like 5 items small, for vegetarians. And yet we recommend you go here, even if you have pick the same combination in a burger and a croissant (this is for vegetarians, others have options), we still strongly recommend you do not miss out on this one! Have a bite of their burgers or croissant sandwich and you will know why!

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Paneer Veggie Burger > A thin paneer based patty with lots of veggies – jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum and onions. The patty had a slightly charred and smokey flavour and went so well with the molten mozzarella. Add to that their lip-smacking Barbeque sauce and it was heavenly! The cheese literally dripped off the burger and messed our hands as we ate! Totally loved it!
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Paneer Veggie Burger

Veggie Croissant Sandwich > Sounds different right? Croissant and sandwich? This was a slightly crisp and buttery croissant that was stuffed with veggies, sauces and mozzarella, just like a sandwich would. But it tasted soooo soo good! Mozzarella again stole the show!

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Veggie Croissant Sandwich

We also tried an Affogato here, which was only ₹90, can you believe it!! It was a shot of espresso with a scoop of vanilla. A perfect treat!

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Affogato

Grape Soda was black currant based tangy soda and was refreshing. We asked for Iced Tea but that wasn’t available. Only hope that a few more vegetarian options were available and this would be heaven!

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Grape Soda

Canteen 18 is a dreamy place and definitely something you have to treat yourself to. Imagine a quiet road, open-air cafe, aroma of delicious food filling the air. Doesn’t seem much like India? Well, that’s where Pondicherry will surprise you!

We don’t even wanna imagine how beautiful this setting would be in monsoons! Another Pondicherry trip seems like a great idea at this moment!

Canteen 18 [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Canteen 18 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato