Oh so Glorious! 5 Iconic eateries that Guwahati still swears by
Get over wine! These places in Guwahati will tell you how even food gets better with time.
Guwahatians love to eat. Guwahati, being a foodie's hub, offers many options when it comes to exploring different cuisines. With time, the city has seen a rising number of popular national and international outlets. But there are some eateries and food joints which are special and exclusive to the emotions of the city’s people. These places have stood the test of time and their identity is virtually heritage today.
A visit to Fancy Bazar is never complete without a samosa and a cup of tea at Lakshmi Cabin. Located at Kamarpatty, just as you enter Fancy Bazar, Lakshmi Cabin was established by Bhupen Chandra Mahanta, a freedom fighter and a resident of the city, in 1942. Mahanta, after completing his prison term, started the eatery with just Rs 50. The place was a small house back then and it hasn't changed much over the years. While the emotions of its patrons are still the same, prices of its food items have seen a reasonable hike with time. Bhupen Chandra Mahanta passed away in 2006 after which his wife Jyotirmoyee Mahanta took up the proprietorship of food joint. The place is currently managed by Late Bhupen Chandra Mahanta's only son.
The place witnesses a footfall of more than 200 people every day. From 20 paisa during the initial days to Rs 12 per samosa today, the place has managed to keep intact both quantity and quality. A cup of tea there, as refreshing as it could be, is a must for almost anyone who visits Fancy Bazar. No matter at what time of the day you step into the eatery, one can always find the employees moving around with plates of samosas and tea, from customer to customer. This heritage of 76 years has certainly seen Guwahati’s love for tea and samosa like no other place.
On the corner of the main chowk of busy Panbazar stands an eatery called Mahamaya Restaurant. The place has completed 100 glorious years of its existence.
Mahamaya Restaurant was first established as an ordinary tea stall catering to a small portion of the mere 1500 people who lived in Guwahati. Naroram Barman and his two siblings undertook a bullock-cart ride from Chamata, Nalbari to North Guwahati and then a ferry ride to cross the Brahmaputra to seek his livelihood in the city. A few years later, the establishment was converted into a thatched house, with sitting arrangements made for the customers to have tea and it survived many years in this avatar. The three-story building of the restaurant today was built in 1948.
Keeping abreast of time, the eatery not only changed its look but also its menu. The 50s and 60s saw the addition of rasgullas, jalebis and samosas. In 1970, Naroram's son, Arjun added rice platter, pulao, roti-sabji, paratha-sabji to the menu of the restaurant.
Mahamaya Restaurant went from strength to strength over the years. The place has been a go-to destination for several significant personalities from different verticals and times such as Late Bhupen Hazarika, Dwipen Baruah, Lakhyadhar Choudhury, Chandra Mohan Patowary, Himanta Biswa Sarma and JP Das among others who were once regulars there.
The journey of Mahamaya Restaurant is a tale that is as endearing as it can get, reflective of the city’s culture, ethics and business practices.
The Gauhati Dairy
Just opposite to the Naak Kata Pukhuri, of Panbazar, stands The Gauhati Dairy. The tale of The Gauhati Dairy is part of Guwahati’s legacy and dates back to 1928.
Established by Late Dhirendra Kumar Deb of Guwahati, the place has continued to be the go-to place for people of Panbazar. The place was established as a small Assam type house. Over the years, the eatery has grown and has spread out to more people. The place today is run by father-son duo, Ujjal Kumar Deb and Rajneesh Deb. Unlike other eateries which only served food or drinks, The Gauhati Dairy came up as the first departmental store apart from being an iconic food joint.
Though college students, working professionals and the lawyers of Gauhati High Court continue to be regular customers of the place, Deb rues the fact that Panbazar has changed a lot over the years resulting in drastic reduction of footfall to the place though there are people who still don’t fail to step into the place when they cross by.
The place is best known for the Bengali sweet ‘patishapta' which is made of ‘kheer.’
Maa Kali Hotel
If you are a fish lover, this is your haven. This food joint, best known for its ‘bhaat thalis,’ will leave you licking your fingers even after the last morsel.
The place was established in 1972 by Nitya Gopal Poddar. Back then, it was a small thatched hut, which used to sell tea and sweets; a journey that started with 4 tables and chairs. Nitya Gopal left his government job to start the hotel; it now turned into the dream restaurant for rice and fish lovers in the city.
That the hotel is at a prime location of the city, very close to Paltan Bazar traffic point, makes it a much more coveted food joint for the people. The place caters to a massive rush during lunch and dinner hours.
Maa Kali Hotel is best known for its fish items. Chingri curry, Hilsa curry, Pabda curry and Bhetki curry are the most sought-after items. The place is always filled with the aroma of oil and spices and comfortably invites anyone to step into it. From office goers, students to travelers, the place is always thronged with foodies. It opens at 9 am and runs till midnight, serving people the best of quality rice thalis. A regular visitor of the hotel, Birinchi Bora of Guwahati says, “I have been visiting this place since I can remember. Every time I visit Paltan Bazar, I make sure to have my lunch at Maa Kali Hotel. There is something about the place and the way they cook the fish items, the titillating aroma of every item, it makes the place unique from any other ‘bhaator dukaan.’
Last in the list, but the oldest when it comes to heritage.
Shaikh Brothers is a legendary outlet in the bakery scenario of northeast India. Established nearly 135 years ago by Shaikh Ghulam Ibrahim, a young entrepreneur from Hooghly, this place has been serving freshly baked pastry products to the people of Guwahati all these years. The eatery boasts of the fact that it is one of the oldest bakeries, not just within northeast, but in India.
Currently, the 4th generation of the family runs the bakery house. Renowned personalities of the city like KM Lahiri, Barasha Rani Bishaya, Bobbeeta Sharma are regular customers of this place. The place witnesses a footfall of nearly 2,500 - 3,000 customers every day. “I have been visiting this place for years now, and I believe the place is a genuine one. The place feels warm and the prices of the products are much lesser compared to others,” said a regular customer.
Nearly 150 employees work every day to cater to the demands of the customers. Interestingly, fresh cookies made at Shaikh Brothers are delivered at chief minister’s residence every morning.
A fun fact – next time you visit the place, ask for the Butter Biscuits.