Once almost desolate, travelers were advised to move with optimum supplies of food and water on the Kalka-Shimla Highway.
But come 2014, and it is one of the most happening stretches in North India. Every weekend there’s a long line of cars making their way uphill towards Shimla, Kasauli or Solan. The crowd is young, hungry and ready to party.
Small and big food outlets are found every few kilometers. You’ll see McDonalds, Hot Millions, CCDs, but besides these, we have a list of well-recommended outlets, some of which need very little introduction while others are still making their presence felt, slowly and steadily. And if we missed out on any do leave a comment.
1. Khalsa Dhaba at Gandhi Chowk at Kalka
Let’s start from the beginning. Before you embark on the journey, stop over for yummy mutton and rice at Kalka. The interiors might be ordinary, but the food is delicious.
2. Ishwar Sweets at Kalka and Jabli
If you haven’t tasted malai kulfi from Ishwar Sweets, then you have definitely denied yourself a slice of heaven on earth. Most travelers will agree that crossing Kalka without having one seems like a missing piece in the journey. Equally recommended is their newly opened branch in Jabli that maintains the same standards of the parent shop. Stop over for fried delights like samosa, pakoras, channa bhatura and a host of mithais.
3. Dally Or Dhalli For Meat Pickles
You might miss this place, if you choose to drive on the Kalka-Shimla bypass highway. But you needn’t fret. Just take a left turn from where the bypass ends and you will reach Dallya after 100 meters. Choose form a long list of all kinds of pickles, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. You can also stop over for a simple meal comprising the pickles here.
4. Timber Trail Resort at Parwanoo
TTR, as it is popularly called, needs very little introduction. It is a premier drive in resort right at the start of the steep gradient. Travelers can stop over for a delightful meal before they proceed to drive towards Shimla.
5. Giani Ka Dhaba at Dharampur
You just need to Google to see the global popularity of this ‘refined’ dhaba. The food is delicious, fresh and the service excellent. The long line of cars outside, are purely indicative of how popular this joint is. Do keep in mind that it closes at 9, so plan accordingly.
6. Colonel Ka Dhaba At Dharampur
Right opposite to Giani is this equally popular dhaba. The food here is delicious and served with love. You might hear stories of Giani loyalists that walked into it, due to a full Giani, and chose to switch loyalties later.
7. Modern Dhaba at Dharampur
If you are thinking why the list has got stuck on Dharampur, well that’s because some of the oldest and popular joints are here. Vegetarians and those who cannot stand the smell of strong spices due to hill sickness should drive on further from Giani and stop at Modern Dhaba. His rajma chawal is to die for.
8. HPMC Juice Bar At Jabli
Another essential stop over for health freaks is at Jabli, right at the curve where Ishwar Sweets is located. The HPMC juice bar here is fully equipped with all kinds of juices and preserves. So if you are feeling nauseous and have lost an appetite, just select a drink for yourself.
9. Kenwood Resorts At Jabli
Another old favorite of many, since at one time the night Volvo used to stop here for dinner. The food is always delicious and very courteous staff no matter what time you visit the place. And a well-stocked bar for spirit lovers.
10. Guru Kripa Punjabi Dhaba At Jabli
This is a find for meat lovers. Just when you cross the bridge after Kenwood you will see a tiny dhaba on your left. Go slow or you might miss it completely. If you can ignore the humble surroundings, get yourself packed the most amazing mutton curry or chicken curry, as you please. The food has the most perfect balance of flavors, is not over oily and you won’t get any after 5pm.
11. Modern Dhaba opposite Solan Bus Terminus
This is a safe joint and ideally located to take a break in Solan. You will get decent food and steaming cups of tea and coffee here. Must try their aloo parantha with mint chutney.
12. Premjees In Solan
Premjees is as synonymous with Solan, as Baljees with Shimla. One of the oldest and most reputed places in Solan. Stop over for a decent and hygienic meal, served by extremely courteous staff.
13. Aabshar before Kandaghat
After you cross Solan and little before Kandaghat you will see a small cluster of dhabas next to a small waterfall. Popularly the place is called ‘Aabshar’ and ask anybody and they will tell you exactly where to go. Stop over for simple, but fresh and homemade food. You can also have a cup of steaming hot tea or coffee, Wai Wai or a delicious plate of pakoras. Food is affordable and the service super fast. They even serve you in the car. There is also an ancient Pandava cave here, if you have some spare time.
14. Amazing Samosas At Kandaghat
Sadly we don’t have a name for the place, as it has no sign board, but the samosas are so amazing that they had to feature on this list. Once you enter Kandaghat, there is a small shop on your left after the first few half a dozen shops. The owner only sells samosas and pakoras, and if you will reach after five you might find him washing his shop clean.
15. Apple Cart Inn At Kiarighat
This is another favorite of many people driving up from Chandigarh and also with the locals who need to get out on Sundays. An old HPTDC property, with a huge lawn and well kept garden. It has a small corner with swings for children and a well designed small restaurant. Like any other tourism property in Himachal, stick to the regulars and try not to order something different here. A nice place to take a break from the drive, have hot coffee, cutlets or plain Maggi.
16. Ankush Dhaba Ahead Of Waknaghat
If you are in the mood for something really rustic, stop at this dhaba in the true sense before Waknaghat. It is a hot favorite amongst the university students for chai and paranthas.
17. Sunny’s at Waknaghat
This is the most happening palace in Waknaghat. And if it has managed to hold the crowds since so long, he must be serving something right. Do try out his chilly toast and vegetarian rolls.
18. Sharma Dhaba 24/7 at Shoghi
The joint has been there forever and continues to dish out tasty food to the weary traveler, day and night. One of the few places on the highway that is open 24/7. The food has not lost its flavor or freshness over the years. It is located right in the center of the market.
19. Verma Sweet Shop, Shoghi
The old mithai shops are being replaced with bakeries and designer confectioners all over the country. But in Shoghi they still retain their old world charm and continue to strive. The Verma Sweet Shop is located in the main market and can be visited for old school besan barfi, samosas, matar and mouth watering jalebis. Mind you they don’t use a microwave still.
20. Hotel Blossom
If you would like to chill out before you enter Shimla, then Hotel Blossom is the place to be. Located before 103 tunnel; onto your right, this a quiet hotel and restaurant with well experienced staff. There is a huge lawn for children to play. Order some hot soup or their popular honey chilly potatoes and stretch your legs.
21. Jagat Sweets And Sharma Sweet Shop Boileauganj Chowk
Those of you who are proceeding onwards to Manali or Mandi, do stop for a cup of tea at Boileauganj chowk and get refreshed. Right at the chowk you will find two small dhabas serving hot jalebis, samosas, sweet and all kinds of namkeens. A great place to enjoy some basic rustic food.