Thindi places to check out while you wait in line at Rameshwaram Cafe
So you’re in the mood for some crisp dosas and idlis? All that Twitter hype might have led you to believe that Rameshwaram Cafe (RC) offers the greatest idli and dosa known to humankind – but Twitter shouldn’t always be trusted. There are better idli and dosa places in Indiranagar that don’t require you to wait for an hour or fight with strangers who won’t let your friends cut into the line next to you.
Let's start with the list! Since you’ve been waiting in line, you’re probably hungry, angry, and very emotional. Let’s focus on feeding you quickly and getting you some post-idli clarity. Just 600 meters from your location lies Umesh Refreshments on Indiranagar 13th main.
Start with their idlis (they’ll melt in your mouth) which can be eaten within 60 seconds of you entering the place (No lines? Who knew). They bring out their inner Lewis Hamilton by spraying the idlis with a packet of ghee before serving them to you. Grab a vada while you’re at it, they’re usually fresh and crisp during prime business hours. Also place an order for a ghee masal dosa, or maybe even a ghee podi onion dosa (this last one is not thin and crisp like the first two, it’s thick like a pancake but delicious nevertheless). There’s even a rice bath dosa if you’re trying to carb-load ahead of a marathon. Their coffee is very good – make sure you grab a couple of those for your squad. Summary: The idlis are a must try, their coffee is pretty good, and their sweets (their take on Gulab Jamoon) are nice too.
If you must have a thatte idli (akin to the one served at Rameshwaram Cafe), then head over to IDC Kitchen on Double Road in Indiranagar.
The Ghee Masala Idli from IDC Kitchen. Image credit: IDC Kitchen
They offer it in three variants (plain, ghee, and masala) just like RC and the quality of their idli is equal (maybe slightly better) to the one from RC. Their coffee beats RC – ask for “extra strong” if you’re nuts like me – you won’t be disappointed. While the other items here are good, the Thatte Idli is the one item that I really recommend - very good. Their dosa is commendable (but not great).
Maybe you go to Rameshwaram Cafe because you like challenges, maybe you’ve always chased men/women who’re out of your league, and like playing life on hard mode. If so, head over to Iyer Idli.
The vada is surprisingly as amazing (or better) than the idlis at Iyer Idli. Full points for their spicy chutney and banana leaf presentation. Image Credit: The Better India
Getting there is going to be a challenge of sorts. Like a slower and more painful version of the car chase from the Tintin movie. So blog listings online will tell you that Iyer Idli is in Thippasandra and is relatively easy to reach. But it is most definitely not. It is situated deep beyond the bowels of GM Palaya in a place called Vignan Nagar. Getting there involves going through narrow roads that are packed with traffic, through an area that reminds you of the unpleasant landscapes of inner Ejipura. The person driving you there, if he/she is a friend and not a cabbie, must be rewarded with two extra idlis because it isn’t going to be fun. But is going there worth it? VICE surely thinks so, they made a bloody video about an idli shop.
Anyhow, what does VICE know about idli! You should be more concerned of what Akash thinks about the Idli, and Akash says go! The idlis are soft but also a little more coarse when compared to the super-smooth ones you had at Umesh Resfreshments. They’re not inferior in any way but they’re just a slightly different genre of idli. Unfortunately, there’s a line at this place, but it’s much shorter than the one at RC (which reminds me of visuals of refuges trying to flee a war torn country). Grab four idlis and two or more vadas at Iyer Idly. if you’ve got room for more, get their chow-chow bath, which is pretty good in my opinion (not the best but quite good).
If you’re not the Indiana Jones of Idlis, and you don’t like traveling to distant lands, then hop into an auto from Rameshwaram Cafe on 12th main, and go to KFC signal in Indiranagar. Over there, ask around for MTR, or check Google Maps. You can get dropped off right at the doorstep. MTR is one of the oldest Thindi brands in Bangalore and their quality is top-notch and consistent. Also, they offer a lot of rare Udupi fare (incredibly authentic, tastes like the stuff my mom makes at home) that you won’t otherwise find. easily.
The masala dosa at MTR is crisp and thick and its batter is made using a very special combination of ingredients, so please avoid insulting it by comparing it to your average dosa. Every dosa is special, just like how every pup is cute.
If you go in a group, order two Rava idlis (else you’ll fight), one plate of Mangalore buns, and two masala dosas. The Rava idlis and the buns are amazing dishes, and most restaurants make them quite poorly. It is only at MTR that one can taste these dishes in their full glory (at least in a Bengaluru restaurant). MTR makes them like they were meant to be made. Again, the dosas here are crisp but thick (and not thin like the “paper roast” that Tamil Nadu is famous for). They’re a different and special genre of dosas and anyone who says that “only thin dosas are real dosas” should be canceled for dosa shaming. I love MTRs dosas, their unique chutney, and their sambar (yes, it has jaggery, but the food is so flavorful that you can enjoy it sans sambar). I also firmly believe that MTR serves some of the best Bisi Bele Bath (BBB) I’ve had in my entire life. The BBB is accompanied by a delicious raitha with cold curd, crunchy onions, and spicy green chillis. Definitely a must-try if you like traditional south Indian fare.
Last but not least, I must take a moment to talk about MTR’s amazing filter coffee. So Bangalore has a lot of good coffee. But what makes a coffee great? In my opinion, it is two things: signature taste and consistency. The taste of the coffee must have its own iconic personality – it should sort of stand out immediately with its delicious signature taste. MTR’s blend gets that right immediately. Second, great filter coffee must also taste excellent every single time – they need to be able to serve amazing quality at scale, across the year, at every single instance. MTR is one of the few south Indian filter coffees that can boast these two rare and important qualities. So mandatory order items include their masal dosa, rava idli, Mangalore buns and bissi belle bath.
All the options mentioned above are Upudi-style or Kanada-style tiffin items. If you’re looking for Tamil-style fare, then there’s one nice option close to you. Grab an auto and head to Sendhoor Coffee which is about 6 minutes away from you in Cambridge layout. Try their ghee dosas, idlis, puddu (aka paniyaram/guliyapa), ghee pongal, and even their vadas (ask if they’re hot and fresh, else skip). I love how Sendhoor makes their sambar and chutney, it reminds me of all the dosa joints I ate in during my childhood in Tamil Nadu. Make sure you have a cup of their tea or coffee. Their tea is special – it’s referred to as “boiler tea” by some since they use a large, old-school boiler to make the tea. The taste is unique and a must-try. Their filter coffee is also excellent. In my opinion, the food quality, taste, and ambiance are surely better in their Koramangala branch, however, the two locations near you (Indiranagar and Thippasandra) are also quite good. Mandatory orders include ghee dosa, idli, puddu, and their parota.
Do you hate RC, Akash?
Absolutely not. I think RC offers great food but having to wait forty-five minutes for a dosa in Bangalore is ridiculous.
I think RC is an amazing joint and I frequent their JP Nagar branch (much shorter waiting lines) and am a huge fan of their business strategy: excellent product served at a high-footfall location that creates powerful, repeatable social proof as people pass by. All this combined with some superb influencer marketing in their early days - literally every lifestyle Instagram handle covered them when they launched.
So there you have it, five amazing thindi options in Indiranagar that are excellent Rameshawaram Cafe alternatives if you don't like waiting in long lines for a dosa.