Food Heaven : Cafés & Restaurants in Auroville

After wandering the streets of Pondicherry for a day or two, I wondered if I should go to Auroville on a day trip or stay for a week. The recommended cafés and eateries in the White Town Area of Pondicherry had turned out to be duds and I was happier to go to small restaurants recommended by the locals. I may be a very rustic traveller on the road but thanks to my evolved taste buds, I happen to be a very picky eater.

Auroville
Organic farming and permaculture… Krishna from Solitude Farm in the picture.

On a chance phone call with a friend who happened to have been staying in Auroville for over a month, he suggested that I should ditch the Pondicherry idea and come and stay at the huts in Auroville. We had randomly met in Nongriat earlier, and like travel stories that brief meeting in Meghalaya gave enough pointers for him to instinctively tell that I would love Auroville’s greenery. One fine morning, I hired an auto from Pondicherry and arrived in Auroville.

Auroville
Auroville’s restaurants and cafés have a very relaxed vibe and make you feel welcome.

Best Cafés & Restaurants to Eat in Auroville

Tanto’s Pizzeria

Before I had even set foot in Auroville, the name Tanto’s had been thrown at me by Auroville regulars. I was told it is an authentic Italian restaurant run by two French brothers (or was it Italian brothers?!). I had first passed by Tanto’s Pizzeria in the auto itself, near the Kuilapalayam Village.

Auroville
Quaint and cosy places to sit and enjoy the food.

Even though I wanted to eat at Tanto’s from the very moment I reached Auroville, but as they say good things take their own sweet time; it happened as the very last meal of my stay. Tanto’s has a relaxed vibe and an outdoor kitchen with an open-air wood fire oven. It had rained just before we reached, and the al-fresco sitting area chairs were all empty. We sat right opposite the oven and the wafting aroma of freshly made pizzas made me hungrier than ever!

Auroville
Most of them are volunteers at Sadhna Farm… The thali at the end of their tour is wholly organic, very healthy and tasty too.

We ordered a pasta and two different varieties of pizza. The base of the pizzas was being freshly made with dough and with a wood fire oven around, we were very hopeful of the quality. We sank in heaven and gobbled up our pizzas in no time! And the pasta was excellent too; and seemed to be freshly made in-house. Their ravioli is said to be sinful!

Auroville
Haha, this cute one is visible on the road itself.

Gelato Factory

In Pondicherry itself, I had been given a taste of the Gelato ice-cream in this area when I stumbled upon GMT (Gelateria Montecatini Terme), that is an ice-cream parlour on the promenade in Pondicherry. I was really impressed by their flavours and tried it multiple times in the 2 days I stayed in Pondicherry.

Auroville
Looking at this picture, I want gelato now!

Of course, I had no idea at all what awaited me in Auroville. On the street, I spotted two Italian Gelateria – the cute white & blue Il Cono & Gelato Factory located on the opposite side of Auroville Bakery. I was mentally debating which one of these I could try (especially after the success at GMT in Pondicherry). I walked into Gelato Factory one day, the Italian owner Francesco Carboni was sitting on the other side of the counter. He explained to me the subtle differences between Gelato & ice-cream and the nuances of making it.

What is Gelato?

Gelato is different than ice-cream. Its base is natural fruits and is made with milk having fat content less than 10 per cent.

Auroville
Spotted this on the main road in Auroville.

And as I had my first scoop, the rest is history. Auroville is your best bet for high quality gelato at affordable prices. For a price range of 80-120 per scoop, it is not expensive at all. Gelato ice-cream is 100 % natural, vegetarian, healthy and has a low fat content. The varied flavours of this artisanal Italian ice-cream are sure to delight gelato connoisseurs. Gelato Factory has vegan gelato ice-cream as well.

Auroville
Local produce, its benefits and the uses : All in a chart.

Naturellement Garden Café

Auroville is such a haven for food lovers that sometimes it becomes difficult to know the right places to eat. One day when I was wandering on my rented scooter (scooty), a pretty French girl asked me for a lift… Even though it was a very funny sight to drive like that, with her dog occupying the front part of the scooter, she suggested that I should try Garden Café and Well Café.

Auroville
Yay, I finally found it!

Naturellement Garden Café is located in a secluded area inside Auroville and took some searching to get here. It has all the forest café feels and has many seating options for various kinds of ambience; indoor, rooftop, couple, and in the open air surrounded by trees and pretty lights. They play excellent music in the background too. But most importantly, the food here is freshly prepared and is delicious. I remember trying two or three dishes and all of them turned out to be perfect. Their pesto gnocchi was heavenly!

Auroville
This quiet area also has Well Café and AuroSoya nearby.

Naturellement Garden Café also sells natural and organic jams, marmalades, fruit syrups, cereals, pickles and pesto.

Well Café

Well café specialises in Mediterranean cuisine with excellence in hummus, labana cheese, falafel, salads. The tahini feels very authentic (I was told that the owner is a Greek, maybe thats why!) The Mediterranean platter is highly recommended.

Auroville
Proper signboards do help in locating these cafés and restaurants because the internet connectivity in Auroville is not very good.

It is located very close to Garden Café and is set in the jungle with interesting decor largely made of discarded stuff. The ambience is peaceful, chairs are spread under a thick canopy of trees whose trunks are covered in colourful sarees. Crafts made from recycled paper are also used for decoration.

Auroville
Super delicious simple food at Sadhna Farm near Auroville.

Solitude Organic Farm

Where do I begin? Krishna McKenzie’s words will blow your mind away. For the current generation who scarcely cares where their food comes from, this might be an eye opener. Terms like permaculture and do nothing farming will be used, and you will realise the significance only when you are relishing the thali.

Auroville
Organic, high quality and tasty lunch thali at Solitude Farm. Must try.

It is expensive, at 240 Rupees a plate and won’t look much; but the ragi rolls are out of this world tasty and the dips, chutneys and other accompaniments will keep you happy long after you have finished eating. Juices and smoothies at Solitude Farm are made with flowers and everything at this small café in the farm is grown in-house. Spending some time at Solitude Farm is one of the must have experiences in Auroville. Psst. Highly recommend trying the juices; Radha’s consciousness and also the one made from aparajita flower.

Auroville
Blending with nature.

Sustenance Farm

This one was my secret find for affordable local food in Auroville. Sustenance Farm is another farm dedicated to organic produce and is run by Mr. Ramalingam. Lunch is served on a banana leaf and consists of the staple fare of rice, sambhar, rasam, different vegetables and chutneys and a juice made of local produce. Price is kept at a very reasonable 80 Rupees.

Auroville
Yummy food at Sustenance Farm! And served on a banana leaf, felt even better.

Sustenance Farm is a rustic place to eat and footwear must be removed before stepping into the dining area. Breakfast is also served at sustenance farm and there is no fixed menu for it. This place is handy for those looking for a real and authentic taste of local food, and also for long term stayers because other places in Auroville are expensive.

Auroville
Very very classy… Auroville’s best place for breakfast!

Bread & Chocolate

I had been passing by this fancy looking eatery everyday in Auroville and was somewhat skeptical of dining here because of the very catchy name. As the days went by, among other recommended places – Bread & Chocolate’s name also came up. So, when I was leaving for Mahabalipuram in the morning, there was the possibility of one last breakfast in Auroville and I hitchhiked from my guest house.

Auroville
Fresh bakes, real coffee and a cosy vibe.. what a way to say goodbye to Auroville! Thanks Bread & Chocolate.

Bread & Chocolate is a chić café with gorgeous wooden interiors, aroma of coffee, well groomed staff and a specialised menu. Even their breads are made in-house and I was enamoured by the heavy and lavish breakfast. Plus the chocolate drink is made from a single origin beans grown somewhere around Auroville itself. A relaxed time savouring the various delights here will cost you anywhere between Rs. 400 to 600; but it will be worth it.

Auroville
When food becomes art! Come to think of it, restaurants and cafés in Auroville are expensive.

La Terrace

An open air terrace with a very relaxed vibe, La Terrace is popular for the meal of the day. Even though it was a warm and humid day, the shade of the huge tree helped us keep cool. My friend tried their sandwich which turned out to be excellent, and the coffee and another smoothie/shake was really tasty as well.

Auroville
A gorgeous frame at La Terrace.

Solar Kitchen

The most popular lunch time eatery in Auroville. It is recommended to make lunch reservations because it is possible that the food is finished before the late entrants can order! Solar Kitchen is run by volunteers and is the community dining hall of Auroville. Lunch is a simple affair of different varieties of rice, dall, veggies and salad – but one must check this place for the Auroville vibe.

Auroville
La Terrace is located on the upper floor – just above Solar Kitchen.

Auroville Bakery

Auroville’s most widely recommended place, I was told to try their baguettes and croissants. I tried twice, unsuccessfully; because they are so popular that they get sold out by noon. So the only way to try them is to get there quickly in the morning. That said, when I finally tried the croissant and baguette, I was slightly disappointed. Maybe the weight of expectations did it, but I was frankly not interested.

Auroville
Not my favourite bakery in Auroville.

Apart from breads and cakes, they also make pizzas, quiches, tarts and pies. Auroville Bakery is near Kuliapalayam and is open from about 6.30am to 5.30pm.

Dreamer’s Cafe

Located inside the visitor’s centre in Auroville, Dreamer’s Café is a crowded place because of the convenient location. It is one of the few places open in the evening too and is a good hangout for coffee and cakes.

Auroville
Most popular with outsiders and day visitors.

I also saw a signboard with homemade gelato written; but after the Gelato Factory I knew where I would go for Gelato!

Youth Centre every Saturday – Pizza Night

If one is planning to stay for a week or two in Auroville, then spending a Saturday evening at the Youth Centre is a great idea. It is a quirky space for the youngsters, with cool graffiti, a pool table and two giant wood fire ovens kept under a roof.

Auroville
A fun atmosphere at the Youth Centre in Auroville.

The college kids from various parts of the world sing and dance and play music and games, and all play a part in making lip-smacking wood fire pizzas. For 150 Rupees per person, this is another interesting experience in Auroville.

Marc’s Cafe – Roast & Toast

For the best coffee in Auroville, look no further. They also have a variety of products on sale, including coffee beans, dark cacao powder and many other coffee based mixtures. It is a small café serving other foodstuffs too and is located on the main road near Kuliapalayam.

Auroville
Another conveniently located café on the main road in Auroville.

AuroSoya

I had eaten smoked tofu from Auroville at a lovely homestay in Himachal in Gunehr  and the name had stuck. So, when I was in Auroville, the first thing that I did was to find out where to get it!

Auroville
Go go go… Smoked tofu is here.

AuroSoya is exactly the place to go for healthy food lovers. It is located just before the entrance to Naturellement Garden Café.

Neem Tree

My friend took me to the Neem Tree when it started raining one evening. It is located close to the Auroville Library, and is a pretty location with fixed tables laid in a park.
Auroville
Quaint places to sit and eat.
Neem tree serves basic food like snacks, lemonade, dosas, parathas, samosas, fruit drinks and desserts at affordable prices. They also play movies on some evenings and thats why Neem Tree has a relaxed vibe.

La Ferme Cheese

La Ferme is the oldest handmade farm cheese maker in Auroville. They use traditional and sustainable techniques for making cheese. The goat and cow milk is supplied by their own dairy and also by farmers from surrounding villages. Their cheese is made from natural whole cow milk, salts, vegetarian enzymes and seasoning cultures. The different varieties on sale are farm cheese, gruyere cheese, ricotta, parmesan, cheddar cheese, gorgonzola cheese, auroblochon cheese, feta cheese and jeera cheese.

Auroville
What a cute entrance!

Mango Hill Cheese

Run by a hotel of the same name, Mango Hill Cheese focuses on making natural cheese with ferments from different countries. Their packing comes in 200 gram round shape and the different varieties of cheese on offer are :  Blue cheese, Cheddar, Colby, Farmer Cheese, Borsalino, Feta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Gouda cheese.


Auroville
Climbing up the recommendation charts… Dharma Swasti is a really nice place.

Among other places I saw but did not try were Mother’s Grace Café and Farm Fresh in Kuilapalayam. Right Path Café was recommended to me for organic health food. Dharma Swasti has an incredibly beautiful setting and interiors, plus great food options for vegans.

Auroville
You are what you eat… These words were never more relevant than they are now, in our fast paced generation that mostly eats processed chemical food.

Some Relevant Posts :

My Favourite Eateries & Cafés in Goa

Wisdom of Tradition : Food in Indian Baltistan

McLeodganj – Best Cafés and Restaurants in the Himalayas?

Top Cafés and Restaurants in Leh

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. arv! says:

    Auroville seems to have grown very well. My first and last visit to Auroville was 20 years ago when I was living in Chennai. All that use to exist was few NGO making hand made products. The food story was missing in those days. Looks like it calls for another trip. My cousin spoke about an amazing boutique stay at outskirts of Pondicherry. Need to check that out as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I would love to check your post, with observations and photographs from 20 years ago. You surely have two big reasons to head to Pondicherry and Auroville !!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. arv! says:

        Sadly I don’t have any pictures from that trip except few group and personal photos. A pre digital camera era!

        Like

  2. wow..Auroville seems to be an heaven for organic food lovers .. This post is going to inspire people to travel to Auroville with the sole objective to eat!!

    Like

    1. Indeed it is. Although I can safely say Auroville has many other unforgettable experiences too, but I thought food is a big part of travelling to this unique place. Thanks for checking.

      Like

  3. Hey there! I just discovered your blog and am loving browsing through it! Loved reading this post, in particular. 🙂

    The husband and I have visited Pondicherry quite a few times, but have somehow never really got around to exploring Auroville. I have always felt there is an air of mystery surrounding Auroville. I would like to understand how one goes about booking a stay in Auroville. Could you please shed some light? Are the stays open to everyone? Are they suitable for travel with a 3.5-year-old kid? Are the eateries you mention in this post accessible to the general public? Do they accept cash and cards?

    Like

    1. Hey! Thanks so much for the kind words of appreciation. Yes, for all the above questions. I shall need to make a comprehensive post on Auroville for the same, will be helpful for other travellers.

      Like

  4. Sapna Parekh says:

    Such a useful & perfectly summed up post!!!! I had recently visited Auroville, this is a great list of places to eat there!

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Sapna; glad you liked it.

      Like

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