Agra India – Best Places to Eat and Dishes to Try
The food in Agra is typical of what you’ll find throughout Rajasthan and northern India, but the rich Mughlai cuisine is one of the main reasons why we chose to visit this part of the country.
Mughlai cuisine is based on dishes developed during India’s medieval period (in the Mughal Empire, the same empire that built sites such as Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal). This type of cuisine is characterized by a range of similar tasting curries that are accompanied by rice and a variety of flat breads. With three of us, we usually ordered two or three curries and an order of long rice with a couple of different flat breads.
There are about three separate types of flat breads to be found at every Mughlai restaurant: naan (the typical white flat bread most westerners are acquainted with), roti (a more wheat-looking bread that is usually the cheapest option), and paratha (a rich multi-layered bread that ended up being our favourite). We used forks to eat our rice and curry, but we really enjoyed spooning a bunch of curry on our plates—our favourite was the butter chicken—and dipping the various breads in it and eating with our hands.
Travellers to India are bound to notice the scrumptious-looking delicacies along the sides of almost any main road (particularly by the Taj Mahal, which is the centre of all tourist action in Agra). Those unaccustomed to Indian food or living in India may want to be wary though; street food’s level of sanitation in general can be question. A few expert friends told us that most of the fried foods should be fine (because they are cooked at high temperatures), but visitors may want to avoid fresh foods, like fruits or vegetables that may have been washed in unpotable water. But for those adventurous enough to try street food, here are some great options.
We kept seeing this everywhere, and we really wanted to try it because it looked so delicious! Bedai is a puffy piece of fried bread served with a hot and spicy potato gravy.
It’s no wonder this dish is a favorite of India restaurants elsewhere in the world. The plump and juicy chicken served with a green mint chutney had our mouths watering every time we saw it.
Paneer Tikka is the must-try option for vegetarians. Paneer cheese was one of our favorite finds as we tried Indian food. On the street, it’s cooked over coals and served on a kebab with a variety of vegetables.
Bob Marley Restaurant
With a laid back feel and a casual menu of local favorites, the Bob Marley Restaurant is a great place to stop, especially for venturing backpackers. Located at P6 Taj Nagri Vip Road, the restaurant is in the heart of the backpacking district and is just down the road from the Taj Mahal. Try the recommended egg fried rice! With about INR199 for regular dishes and INR325 for specialty dishes, this restaurant’s a deal.
Pinch of Spice
This restaurant was recommended to us by one of our tour guides in a different city, so its reputation definitely precedes it. It’s part of the Pind Balluchi franchise and is a great place for any westerners a little hesitant about trying Mughlai food. The menu is easy to understand, and we appreciated the delicious-looking pictures that helped us better decide what we wanted to order. The atmosphere was great too; it felt more upscale than some of the other places we had been to but without an upscale price tag. The breads are usually under INR 100, but the curries and main dishes are usually above INR300. The one in Agra is at 1076/2 Fatehabad Road just south of the Taj Mahal.
Western and International Food
Those looking for a little taste of home will probably be able to find it at Twisted Flavors, located on Fatehabad Road opposite the Saga Emporium. The cosy restaurant offers an extremely varied menu from mojitos to tarts to pasta and really everything in between. Wherever travellers come from, they’re likely to find some familiar comfort food here at a moderate price.
The Hotel Rashmi boasts an amazing restaurant, so that’s exactly what they decided to call it! Amazing Restaurant serves primarily Indian food but with some American, French, Italian, and Spanish dishes as well. But the ambience is entirely Indian with the strings of bright lights and the colourful flowers around; visitors won’t forget they’re in the heart of India at this moderately-priced eatery.
Cafés and Coffee Houses
Good Vibes Café
This highly reviewed and highly recommended café is a great stop for any traveller with a little bit of something for everyone. Like most Indian restaurants, this café offers a menu chock-full of local dishes but also caters to more foreign tastes (with dishes like spaghetti and chicken chow mein). But time and time again, people talk about this café’s great chai and enjoy having a cup of tea with the friendly owners of the establishment. Because the café is in a popular dining and hotel area close to the Taj Mahal (Taj Nagari Phase 1), it’s easy for most travellers to pop in for a quick cup of tea or snack. And everyone agrees that the low prices keep customers coming back for more at this café that’s one of the best deals in Agra. Keep in mind that the chairs are a bit short though; those who want something a bit higher can ask for the “King’s Chair” to make them more comfortable.
This is a café with dual purposes: to serve great food and coffee but also to give the victims of acid attacks a safe place to enjoy a simple cup of tea with others. It attracts customers with its donations to charities to help survivors of acid attacks and with its very cheap menu prices. A hot beverage ranges between INR20 and INR40, cold beverages are up to INR90, and entrees (the restaurant serves both Chinese and Indian dishes) are up to INR250, which is much cheaper than what can be found at other restaurants. This incredible café and landmark can be found on Fatehabad Road, opposite the Gateway Hotel.
Bars and Pubs
Xhale Café and Sheesha Lounge
Travellers with a taste for hookah and a few drinks will love the Xhale Café and Sheesha Lounge. The cozy rooftop establishment has the feel of a neon-painted nightclub, which gives a great effect in the evening hours. It can be found in the Shopping Arcade of Sadar Bazaar and has a mid-range price for drinks.
This place has a great pub atmosphere with a large menu to accompany all of the fancy drinks available. However, beer is served only on the weekends—Agra is not huge on its bar scene. But those looking for a great tasting drink, not necessarily an alcoholic one, will have a great time here with their selection of mocktails, milkshakes, coffee, and tea. Drinks range between INR50 and INR160, while the entrees can get up to around INR500. Check out this great hangout on Fatehabad Road!
Agra has a lot to offer foodies. There are a good number of international and foreign options for those wanting a little taste from home. But travelers will not want to miss out on the opportunity to try the traditional, local Mughlai cuisine. The smells of cooking curries and frying breads will have any visitor to Agra missing its food long after they’ve returned home.