Kerala’s dining scene is witnessing an unprecedented boom, with the state’s rich culinary heritage and distinct regional experiences shaping its diverse culinary landscape. This unique culinary journey is now being extensively chronicled by a growing community of content creators and Instagrammers, mirroring the trend seen across India. Additionally, the proliferation of international dining experiences in cities like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram has added an exciting new dimension to Kerala’s food scene. From Kozhikode’s scrumptious biryanis to Fort Kochi’s hipster cafes to street food in Thiruvananthapuram, each city in Kerala is a foodie paradise.
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Here Are 4 Citites In Kerala Every Foodie Must Visit:
Choosing Kochi and Kozhikode as my favourite culinary destinations in Kerala is challenging. Much of Kozhikode’s appeal stems from the city’s authentic local food experiences and passionately run, family-owned establishments that continue to sway. The city’s foodscape has been shaped by interactions with the Middle East, dating back several centuries and continuing today with the large Kerala diaspora in the Gulf States. One must-try is the Sharjah Shake (though not found in Sharjah, UAE) at EPK Fruit Centre. The Nannari (Sarasaparilla) Sherbet is a perfect drink to beat the humidity, a popular beverage here.
The city’s best-known dish is probably the Kozhikode biryani, served in iconic eateries like Paragon restaurant. A favourite stop is Zain’s, synonymous with fine Mapilla cuisine. Don’t miss the Ari Kadukka (Mussel dumplings), one of Zain’s signatures. Before leaving Kozhikode, indulge in the city’s gooey Kozhikode halwa (Maharaja Sweets offers one of the best versions), made with flour, coconut oil, and jaggery. And, of course, grab some crunchy banana chips at Kumari Banana Chips.
Kochi’s restaurant and food scene have been shaped by locals, tourists, and the state’s large diaspora. A notable trend in the last decade is the transformation of toddy shops into family-friendly spaces. Mullapanthal Toddy Shop, in the Thrippunithara area, is one of these, known for dishes like karimeen (pearl spot) polichatu and duck mappas. For biryani lovers, Kayees Rahmatulla Cafe in Mattancherry serves Malabar-style biryani with traditional accompaniments – date chutney and onion raita (locally known as Salad).
Kochi boasts the most evolved fine dining scene in Kerala, with places like Eight Bastion (in Fort Kochi), a contemporary hotel celebrating Kochi’s Dutch connection, and Thai Soul at the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty, the city’s first Thai restaurant highlighting street food from Thailand’s culinary regions. Fort Kochi’s atmospheric cafes, such as Kashi Art Cafe; and the latest addition, Lila, are perfect for unwinding with French Toast.
Often considered a dark horse, Thiruvananthapuram surprises with its underrated food scene. High-end dining experiences, comparable to those in India’s biggest metros, are found here. Villa Maya, set in an 18th Century Dutch-style villa, is one of the most romantic dining venues in South India, offering an eclectic mix of local and international favourites. Other notable restaurants include Oriental Kitchen at the Hyatt Regency and O Cafe at the O by Tamara, providing a great dining experience.
One of Thiruvananthapuram’s best-known dishes is Kethel’s chicken (try it at Hotel Rahmaniya), marinated in chilli and a unique masala, deep-fried KFC-style with pepper and a garnish of chilli seeds. Don’t miss grab-and-go options like the city’s official dessert, boli (similar to puran poli), and paal ada at outlets like Maha Boli in the Pazhavangadi area (near the Padmanabhasamy temple). The city also offers some of the best vegetarian breakfast options in Kerala, like the ultra-crisp Rocket Dosa.
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More than a century after George Nathaniel Curzon labelled Alappuzha the ‘Venice of the East,’ the city remains a culinary delight. Food trails often lead to Brothers Hotel, a local legend for almost five decades, known for its bestselling duck roast. Puttum Kattanum, an unpretentious diner with backwater views, showcases Alappuzha’s seafood traditions with popular options like karimeen (pearl spot) polichatu and crab masala. Chilla Art Cafe one of the region’s most photogenic dining spots, offers a variety of vegetarian options.