Vaishali Restaurant: The Pride of Pune

Vaishali in Pune is perhaps the most famous restaurant from the city, known to every single resident (well, almost) and often recommended as the first restaurant to visit for a first-time visitor to Pune. Located on the vibrant Ferguson College (or simply FC) Road, the rather simple and small food joint is where Puneites come when they need to fulfil their craving for South Indian food :)

Recently when I was on my way back from Delhi, Indigo Air also recommended that I visit Vaishali right after I leave the airport for some delicious South Indian food. Of course, having lived in Pune for a years already I knew about Vaishali and the amount of love a true Punekar showers on this place, but for someone new these were certainly words of wisdom.

vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune
The relaxed Ambience at Vaishali
vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune dosa chutney
Masala Dosa with Chutney
vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune sabudana vada
The humble Sabudana vada

To me the food at Vaishali has always been good, but that’s not what always takes me back there. I am most intrigued by the stories of Vaishali that I hear from the old timers, the relaxed ambience (despite the rush) and the happy chatter when you sit and eat, an obvious sign that people are having a great time!


The Vaishali Story!

But have you wondered about the when Vaishali started and how did it become the food icon of Pune? To explore this, we will need to go back in time, much before I was born. It was an eventful year for sure - Nathuram Godse was finally hanged to death for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Tripura became a part of Independent India and the new constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly (it came into force from 26th January 1950). This year a young 17 years old boy from Udupi, Karnataka, came to Pune. His name was Jagannath Shetty.

vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune ambience
Young and the old - everyone loves Vaishali

He joined his uncle at his restaurant called ‘Madras Cafe’ (now known as Roopali) and worked hard to ensure it’s success. Soon after he started a new restaurant across the road and curiously named it ‘Madras Health Home’ which accommodated only about 20 people, and later another restaurant called ‘Amrapali’. Amongst the three, ‘Madras Health Home’ took off like a rocket and with time became one of the most popular restaurants in the entire city.

‘Madras Health Home’ later transformed into the present day ‘Vaishali’.

Over the years ‘Vaishali’ developed into the most favourite restaurant for Punekars. The restaurant also modified the recipes to match the local taste palate - a good example is the slightly sweeter Sambhar. It’s excellent location on the busy FC Road also meant that many students came here to enjoy food, especially because the food was always within the reach of a common man. It has continued to remain affordable even now, and you can see people from all walks of life thronging for food.

vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune from outside view
Vaishali from outside

It’s usually the mornings and late afternoons, those relaxed hours when the rest of the world is busy at work, when the old  timers come here to meet friends. There are many such groups who meet here every single day for South Indian Filter coffee and conversations. They are all recognised by the staff and get a bit of an extra nice treatment. Now, the staff at ‘Vaishali’ is not exactly known to be friendly, so this special treatment would actually mean smiles :)

What’s good to eat at Vaishali?

Everyone has their favourite food at Vaishali, and so do I. Surprisingly it’s not South Indian at all but the very modest Maharashtrian Sabudana vada! I have eaten all the recommended things like Dosa, Idlis, Medu wada and SPDP (Sev Puri Dahi Puri), but I love the Sabudana vada the most. I am yet to eat better Sabudana vada anywhere else.

vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune sabudana vada
My favourite Sabudana vada
vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune dosa
Dosa on our table!
vaishali south indian restaurant FC road Pune dosa
More dosa :)

However, if you are eating here for the first time, do try the South Indian food and SPDP. In fact SPDP is a type of chaat and is much loved in this part of the country. If you like chaat, this is certainly a must-try!

And don't forget to end your meal with some South Indian filter coffee. The strength of the coffee is customisable, so do mention right in the beginning if you want it strong or light, with sugar or without.

Address of Vaishali

Vaishali Restaurant
1218/ 1, Fergusson College Road 
Pune - 411 004

Phone no: 020 2553 1244

Share your 'Vaishali' Story!

Do you also have a fond memory from Vaishali? Something from your college days? Your first date? The special moments with your grandparents?

Do share them here with me and I shall add them to the article. It will be a live article with more and more stories added every time I get a new one :)

Comments

  1. Sounds like an interesting place! The food is unfamiliar to me but it's always worth it to try new things.

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  2. Sabudana Vada Looks yummy.
    Ambiance of this place looks lively and cool.
    Having read so much about Pune through your blog, I feel like coming to this place sometime soon.

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    1. Thanks Swati :) I am sure you would love Pune, though I feel that I have really not written much about the city as yet...

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  3. I wasnt aware of the history of Vaishali despite having lived in Pune for the last three decades.

    Rathina's View Space

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    1. Haha! It's always great to discover your own city - I am loving this discovery phase of Pune :)

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  4. This is torture, Sid. :) Look at that vada and those dosas!!
    Awesome images!!

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  5. Now I got to visit Vishali when in Pune :)

    www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. Please do and then let me know how you like it :)

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  6. these south Indian dishes is enough for watering the whole mouth. thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes that's true...food always does that to me as well :)

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  7. Ek Number post :) While going to office every day I pass from the lane, adjacent to Vaishali. The aroma tantalise my brain and stomach…. Every day...I too love sabudana vada here.

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    1. Thanks Shilpa! We must catch up there...out meeting has been pending forever :)

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  8. I wonder many Udipi restaurants have Madras in their name! :) Nice bit of history you have captured there.

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    1. That's an interesting thought and needs exploration :)

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  9. Have been in Pune for 42 years and Vaishali is one of those places that I keep visiting on and off. Even now when I pass FC road, I make it a point to get in and have either Masala Dosa or Wada sambhar. Yes like you said, I like their slightly sweet Sambhar.
    Like your photographs - you have made it very colourful (but not loud)
    Joining this site and following you :-)

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    1. Thanks so much :) A comment like yours is always an icing on the cake for a post like this :)

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  10. Never been to Pune, but I too would love the Sabudana vada... I am a South Indian, and really where in Bangalore I live forget eating dosas not good atall... so only if it is very good South Indian food worth trying here... How come all take name of Madras to show they are South Indian, anyway... the ambience of this place is pretty nice, worth having a relaxing time here.

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    1. Well, I am no sure if you will love the South Indian food here, but do try the Sabudana wada :)

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  11. Very interesting to read. The pics of food items look very alluring to eat. Thank you for sharing this post with us.

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