Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Restaurant Review – Vaishali (written in 1994)

Posted in Hotels & Restaurants, Pune by Amit Paranjape on October 7, 2008

The first ever internet homepage for Pune was setup in 1994. I had written a brief review of my favorite restaurant, Hotel Vaishali on FC Road back then. I am reproducing that review here on my blog.

It’s interesting to note how the price of one of the most popular dishes at Vaishali – ‘Idli-Wada Sambar’, has changed over the period. In the 93-94 time frame, it was around Rs. 5. Today, it is nearer to Rs. 20. Over the past 13 years I was living in the US. During each of my yearly India trips, a visit to Vaishali was a must! I used to routinely compare the price of this Idli-Wada Sambar dish against by Rs. 5 benchmark. In a way, it was my extreme rough inflation indicator -:)



I am sure that any person who has ever visited Pune must have atleast heard of Vaishali, if not visited it. Whenever you pass by the FC Road, an enchanting aroma of Sambar will literally draw you towards this place!

What started of as Madras Cafe back in the 1950s has today become one of the most popular restaurants in Pune. Infact Vaishali got its present name in the late 1960s. More than two generations of college students have made this place their ‘adda’ or meeting place. Infact during the day time, Vaishali resembles a college canteen.

Vaishali predominantly serves South Indian snacks with some exceptions such as the extremely popular SPDP (shev potato dahi puri) and the Veg. burger. One could start of with an order of idli-vada sambar (my favourite) and wait for the Masala dosa or Tomato Uttappa.(remember to order this along with the first order to reduce idle time!). The third dish could either be a SPDP or any of the remaining snack dishes in the menu! Yes, in Vaishali, you should make it a point to try atleast 3 dishes! No snack in Vaishali is complete without a hot cup of filter coffee though you may also like to try cold coffee or a lassi. Apart from this you also have a choice of standard beverages and ice-creams.

So, whenever you are planning to visit Pune, do make it a point to visit Vaishali. However, be prepared to wait for atleast 15-20 minutes before finding a place to sit (especially in the evenings). I am sure that your patience shall be rewarded!


Update on February 5, 2011

Recently, came across a very good interview with Jagannath Shetty, owner of Vaishali in  Punekar. Here is the link:


6 Responses

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  1. Amit Mahajani said, on October 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    If the review was written in 1994, I would agree to most of the comments. I beg to differ in the current situation. It has become one of the worst restaurants in Pune. Today what you get is half cooked utthappa in a broken (probably still 1994 or earlier purchased) cutlery. If at all you get a seat, within 5 minutes there will be minimum 10 eyes glaring at “your dishes” estimating when you will make a way for the next lot to occupy the table.
    There is only way to achieve mental peace. Order some more food to eat after you get your bill. Also watch those “10 glaring eyes” who would have moved within distance of 6 inches once that first bill was thumped on your table.

  2. Girish Agashe said, on October 30, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Marathi author Bhalchandra Nemade mentions about ‘Madras Cafe’ in his 1963 novel ‘Kosala’. (Interestingly the book never mentions ‘Fergusson college’ by name where I believe narrator of this novel is studying.)

    Just curious to know if Vaishali / Madras cafe appears in any other well known piece of literature.

  3. Vishal said, on February 24, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Great Review Mr. Pranjape, absolutely agree with every word.
    I’m guessing Mr. Mahajani was there on a bad, rather the worst day. I have had no such experience in all these years that i have been visiting Vaishali.
    As per me Vaishali does a great job considering the huge footfall it has on a daily basis and the fact that the space is limited. And the consistency and quality of Vaishali is not matched by others.

  4. […] Vaishali […]

  5. […] Vaishali – The classic Pune favorite! Around since the 1960s. Famous for their South Indian and other snacks. Location: FC Road. Read more here: […]

  6. Geetha said, on June 7, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Amit!
    It was a nostalgic trip going through your blog. I agree all the joints mentioned by you and the readers were famous for their lip-smacking delicacies. One my favourites were the Laxminarayan chivda and the Budhani wafres. I made this faux pas of waliking into Chitale’s and asking for Laxminarayan Chivda! The guy attending to me replied with gritted teeth that I could get only Chitale Chivda at their place.
    I hope all these joints still serve the old time greats and not changed with the times. I hope their menu does not contain the continental fare which tastes the same across the world.

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