Over and above the healthy fare served at the Osho resort (strictly accessible to card-carrying Oshoites who've signed up for a meditation pass), there's no lack of quality eating spots in this rapidly evolving city; the real trick is to find one of the original eating houses where locals go for their daily lunchtime feast. The best of these don't even have English signboards, nor do they look very much like restaurants from the outside anyway. If you're exploring the Old City, one of the most authentic places to stop for a good typical Maharashtrian vegetarian thali (platter), is Badshahi on Tilak Road. None of the upmarket hotels will have a clue what you're talking about if you ask about it, but an auto-rickshaw driver should be able to get you there. Don't expect any of the staff to speak any English, but when they see you arrive and hear you ask "Thali?" you'll be greeted with enough gestures to let you understand that you need to pay first (around Rs 50) and then wait a few moments until one of the tiny tables (mostly taken by single men on their lunch break) becomes free. The whole experience is a trip back to another era, with a totally absorbing ambience, cluttered with many years of history. As a foreigner, you'll feel like an unexpected VIP -- excuse the stares and polite smiles -- and staff go out of their way to feed you to the brim. The meal consists of limitless chapatti, which you use to mop up an assortment of vegetables and spicy, currylike dips. As you'll see from your fellow diners, there's no set pattern dictating how you feast -- use your fingers, experiment, but don't drink the water -- and the servers will continue ladling more of whatever you desire onto your metal dish. If only they made them like this back home ...

For an upmarket version of honest Maharashtrian cuisine, there's no beating Mystic Masala at the Taj Blue Diamond, which gets more interesting later at night when the business crowds leave and the Puneite families file in. Another hotel eatery that has the in-crowd flocking is Addah (tel. 020/4001-1000), the poolside brasserie on the rooftop of the spiffy new O. The main attraction is undoubtedly the setting -- you feast under the stars, ordering from a variety of Indian dishes cooked on open coals in the live kitchen -- so if the menu doesn't grab you, settle in at Addah's outrageously a la mode bar, Minus, which has been an instant hit with Pune's chichi crowd (so it's probably not compatible with a more meditational mood you're likely to pick up at the Osho resort).

There's more North Indian cuisine at The Great Punjab (5 Jewel Tower, Lane 5, Koregaon Park; tel. 020/2614-5060), which serves good portions of authentic, rich, and delicious Punjabi favorites, as well as a few items you don't find just anywhere -- do try the mince meat and ribs (kheema champ), which you can slop up with a couple of fresh parathas. For a cheap, quick meal, hit legendary Prem's (28/2 Koregaon Park; tel. 020/2613-0985), which caters unashamedly to the international crowd from the Osho resort (which means there's a selection of European dishes alongside the very good Indian options).


Throughout the day, you'll find Oshoites gathered around the tables at Koregaon Park's German Bakery (291 Vaswani Nagar; tel. 020/2613-6532) which is pleasant enough (despite rather rude service) and serves incredibly good healthful breakfasts, delicious baked goods, and decent coffee. Try not to be put off by the persistent auto-rickshaw-cum-drug wallahs who hang around outside the cafe -- they're irritating, but harmless. Another all-day hangout, but where the vibe is definitely better at night, are the string of casual eateries at ABC Farm (2 Moledina Rd., Pune Camp; tel. 020/2613-8275), where you can browse around for a menu and ambience that suites your mood; currently, the rustic-trendy Shisha Café is incredibly popular (although we've found the service slow enough to send us packing). Far better, and a little more grown up, though, is Kiva The Lounge (Range Hills Rd.; tel. 020/2553-8339), which is probably more suitable as a hangout for drinking and lounging as it is a place for its casual dining; do be warned that it gets extremely noisy in here, usually a result of uproarious support for its music. Finally, the top choice in town for Pan-Asian cuisine is Malaka Spice, which definitely takes the prize as the most unique of Pune's smarter restaurants.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.