The Good Life With IQ

6 unexpectedly great restaurants for vegetarians in Hyderabad

If you’re a vegetarian in Hyderabad and running out of places to eat, these six restaurants serve excellent vegetarian food, despite being better known for their non-veg.

We’ve all been there. A group of family or friends wants to go out to eat, but can’t decide on where to go. Why? Because the restaurants being discussed either serve great vegetarian or great non-vegetarian, but not both. Rejoice, because here are six restaurants in Hyderabad that—despite being better known for their meat and seafood dishes—serve excellent vegetarian food, too.

Also read: IQ’s veg review: Olive Bistro

Just so you know, all of these places are around Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Hitech City areas—part of the recent explosion in dining options in this part of the city. If you happen to be on the other side of town, sorry about that!

1. The Spicy Venue

Cuisine: Telugu | Format: Casual dining | Location: Road 10, Jubilee Hills | No alcohol

As its interesting name suggests, this modest place is popular for its mind-blowingly spicy Telugu food. Set up in a private bungalow on Road 10, Jubilee Hills, the restaurant is always crowded. Maybe because it counts a number of local movie stars among its more loyal guests. The setup and atmosphere is somewhat basic, without unnecessary frills—not luxurious but not uncomfortable either. One thing that they don’t hold back on is the air-conditioning. It always feels like it’s turned down to the coldest possible setting. But that’s probably to offset the generous amount of chilli in the food.

The food itself, thought it’s VERY spicy, is also so incredibly tasty that you just can’t stop eating! We’ve found that the first bite is always the worst, and that you get used to it after a while. If you think the fire in your mouth needs extinguishing, order yourself a bowl of their rich, creamy curd. It’s served straight out of the fridge, and is probably the best curd we’ve ever tasted.

The Good Life With IQ recommends

Vegetarian thali

As vegetarians, we always order the veg thali, guaranteed to give you a whole assortment of local flavours on one plate. And the dishes on the thali change according to the chef’s menu of the day, so you never get bored.

Mushroom 65

We also love the fiery mushroom 65, with its Indo-Chinese flavours—soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, chilli and curry leaves—all vying for attention.

Egg pulao

For ovitarians, the egg pulao is a must-try. The spicy masala gravy in which the halved boiled eggs are coated has an unmistakably South Indian flavour to it, and the rice itself is fragrant and lightly spiced.

Apricot delight

It may be a little out of place on a Telugu restaurant’s menu, but this apricot-based trifle-like dessert is to die for. It’s layers of biscuit crumbs, pureed apricot, custard and fresh cream go down surprisingly easily despite being quite rich. Probably because it’s the perfect counter to the spicy flavours of the main meal.

How to get to The Spicy Venue

If you’re approaching Jubilee Hills from the city side, turn right at the Checkpost traffic signal and keep going for about two kilometres until you see a building in the shape of a diamond on your left. The restaurant is a little further ahead, also on your left. If you’re approaching from Hitech City, take the left arm of the fork at Shree Jewellers on Road 36. Keep going for about half a kilometre, until you see an ICICI Bank on your left. The restaurant is on the opposite side of the road. Use this location on your GPS

Good restaurants for veg food - Spicy Venue thali - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
The veg thali at The Spicy Venue always delivers
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2. Kaficko

Cuisine: European | Format: High-end café | Location: Road 45, Jubilee Hills | No alcohol

This elegantly minimalist café used to be on Road 12, Banjara Hills before shifting to this new upmarket location. The ambience is modern and chic, with lots of white and glass giving it an open and airy feel. Sadly, the acoustics of the indoor area could be a little better. Even a few occupied tables make it seem noisy.

Their menu is, interestingly enough, very vegetarian-friendly, with a few vegan options as well. It’s big on short eats, but has lots of interesting mains and desserts, too.

The Good Life With IQ recommends

Tagliatelle with spinach, mascarpone and parmesan

This plate of pasta was the best we had eaten in a long time. In fact, it was so good that we completely forgot to take a picture before digging in. That’s why the one here is of our half-eaten plate! What was really nice was that the sauce wasn’t too cheesy, so the flavour of the spinach shone through.

How to get to Kaficko

Road 45 is a little difficult to find if you don’t know it already, so it’s probably better to use this location on your GPS. Alternatively, the easiest way would be to approach the Jubilee Hills from the city side. Turnleft at the Checkpost traffic signal and then turn right at the next traffic signal. Once you’re on Road 45, take a ‘U’ turn at the next opportunity and head back towards the traffic signal. The restaurant is a few hundred meters before the signal, on the left.

Good restaurants for veg food - Kaficko tagilatelle - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
Kaficko’s tagliatelle, in a slightly reduced state
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3. Malaka Spice

(Update: This place has shut down since I wrote this post, but there’s hope that it’ll open up again, in a new avatar.)

Cuisine: South-East Asian | Format: Casual dining | Location: Road 1, Jubilee Hills | Serves alcohol

Part of the growing South-East Asian food scene in Hyderabad, this restaurant is the latest from a Pune-based chain known for its Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese cuisine. With lots of outdoor seating and hanging lanterns, it echoes the little outdoor eateries of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with a little more comfort thrown in.

Their extensive menu draws inspiration from all parts of South-East Asia, and has lots of vegetarian options. Some might even be vegan, but aren’t labelled as such. Their stir-fries are particularly interesting. We found that they work as a starter on their own, or as a main with noodles or rice.

The Good Life With IQ recommends

Top Hats (veg)

These interesting little starters have layers of minced vegetables and herbs encased in a light crunchy shell and topped with crisp sprouts—excellent on their own, and even better when drizzled with their accompanying sweet chilli sauce. Just make sure you tell the server you want yours vegetarian, because there’s a chicken version on the menu, too.

Three Aunties and Three Grandmothers

This amusingly-named stir fry is perfect for mushroom lovers. A combination of three types of mushrooms—shiitake, oyster and button—and baby corn, spinach and carrot, in a nice flavourful sauce, you can eat this one either on its own, or with rice or noodles.

How to get to Malaka Spice

Getting here is reasonably straightforward. If you’re approaching Jubilee Hills from the city side, turn right at the Checkpost traffic signal, take a ‘U’ turn at the bottom of the hill where the road branches off. Head back towards the signal and take the first left (you’ll probably see a signboard for the ‘Mirrors’ salon). The restaurant is at the end of that lane. If you’re approaching from Hitech City, take the left arm of the fork at Shree Jewellers on Road 36, and keep going for about two kilometres. When the road starts to climb steeply towards the Jubilee Hills Checkpost traffic signal, take the first left and keep going until the end of the lane. Or just use this location.

Good restaurants for veg food - Malaka Spice top hats - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
The top hats at Malaka Spice. Order them to see why they’re called that.

Also read: A simple, hearty, guilt-free salad: Broccoli and crispy potato with honey-mustard vinaigrette

4. Haiku

Cuisine: Japanese and South-East Asian | Format: Casual open-air dining | Location: Road 12, Banjara Hills | No alcohol

Arguably Hyderabad’s first real Japanese-serving restaurant, Haiku is an eye-opener in many ways. Its interesting open-plan décor combines minimalist elegance with quirky design elements to create a somewhat dream-like atmosphere. And in today’s obsession with air-conditioning, its open-to-the-wind layout is a nice touch.

The menu is heavy on Japanese cuisine (which goes far beyond just sushi, by the way), with a nice mix of other South-East Asian dishes thrown in. And while the Japanese flavours may take some getting used to, the others are a little closer to home, so first-timers may want to order a combination. A note of caution: we found the desserts a little disappointing, especially after the excellent quality of the main meal.

The Good Life With IQ recommends

Singaporean Penang Laksa (veg)

This hearty dish, though listed under soups, it actually a meal in itself. The noodles and crisp veggies swimming in a rich coconut-based soup mean that you’ll need to eat it with both spoon and fork (or chopsticks, if you’re a traditionalist).

Gado gado

This traditional Indonesian salad is a dish of lightly steamed vegetables in a sweet and spicy peanut dressing. And though it’s traditionally served with boiled egg, Haiku serves it without, making it perfect for vegetarians of all shades—and possibly vegans too, though I can’t be sure.

Ame shiitake maki

This is a great one for vegetarians who want to try the famous sushi (which is actually an umbrella term for a number of different things involving small portions of sticky vinegared rice). In this case, marinated shiitake mushrooms are wrapped in sushi rice and then covered with a layer of nori seaweed. A word to the wise: the mushrooms taste fantastic, but the seaweed has a strong fishy taste that takes some getting used to.

How to get to Haiku

This is probably the easiest one to get to. If you’re approaching from the Filmnagar side, keep going straight after the Maharaja Agrasen roundabout—that’s the one with Jagannath temple—for about half a kilometre until you see the Volvo showroom on your left. The restaurant is on the opposite side, in the same building as the Good Earth boutique. If you’re approaching from the Indo-American Cancer Hospital side, then turn left at the circle instead. And if you’re approaching from Banjara Hills Road 1, turn onto Road 12 at the Pension Office traffic signal (or, as it’s more popularly known, the Pizza Hut signal) and continue up the hill until the road levels out, and another kilometre or so from there on the left, just after the Karur Vysya Bank. Here’s the restaurant’s location.

Good restaurants for veg food - Haiku Laksa - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
Haiku’s Singapore Penang laksa, meal in itself
Good restaurants for veg food - Haiku mushroom maki and gado gado - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
The shiitake maki and gado gado perfectly combine Japanese flavours with those a little closer to home
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5. Sarkar’s Kitchen

Cuisine: Bengali | Format: Basic eatery | Location: Madhapur, Hitech City | No alcohol

This tiny—and very modest—restaurant is tucked away in a little lane off the main Madhapur-Hitech City road, and is a hidden gem if you enjoy Bengali food. The decor is very basic, with a few stainless steel tables crammed into a little space the size of a bedroom, but the food more than makes up for lack of creature comforts.

The extensive menu of home-style dishes has something to warm the heart of every homesick native of West Bengal—and you know it’s good when the proprietor’s family has the leftovers for dinner at the end of the day! Even though Bengali cuisine isn’t really known for its vegetarian food, this menu has lots and lots of veg options to choose from.

The Good Life With IQ recommends

Luchi Aloo Dum combo

The combos here offer great value for money, and this one—potato in thick gravy with Bengali-style puris—is a great one to start off with. Add in a side of cholar dal or begun bhaja, and you’ve got yourself a full Bengali meal. For two!

Paayish

This dessert is West Bengal’s answer to South India’s pal payasam—rice cooked in sweet thickened milk—and Sarkar’s Kitchen does a very nice paayish. Made with broken rice cooked just right, it’s not too sweet, and rich enough to make you feel guilty at the end of your meal. Pro tip: Order just one serving between two people, and even that may be too much.

Getting to Sarkar’s Kitchen

This place is a little difficult to find, sitting in its tiny lane off the main road. Head down the Hitech City main road from Cyber Towers towards Jubilee Hills for about one kilometre, and it’s in the tiny lane on left at the metro rail pillar number 39 (there’s a Med Plus shop on the corner). If you’re approaching from Jubilee Hills, take Road 36 from the Checkpost traffic signal towards Hitech City for about three kilometres (make sure you follow the overhead metro rail line) and take a ‘U’ turn as soon as you can after pillar number 39. You can use this location, but be warned: the GPS might take you into the next lane for a little drive-around, instead of straight there. Also, there’s almost no parking to be had.

Good restaurants for veg food - Sarkars Kitchen combo - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
The luchi aloo dum combo at Sarkar’s Kitchen, with dal and rice on the side
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6. Conçu Cucina

Cuisine: Italian | Format: High-end casual dining | Location: Madhapur, Hitech City | No alcohol

Conçu started out as an elegant little patisserie just off Road 36, Jubilee Hills, and has recently moved to a new location and expanded to include a nice Italian restaurant as well: Conçu Cucina. The decor is modern and minimalist, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor acoustics make the place a little noisy, but the outdoor seating is nice and airy, and allows you to admire their little herb garden while you eat.

The menu is short and focused, with a decent—if not extensive—number of vegetarian items to choose from. That’s probably a good thing, because it allows the chef to concentrate on quality instead of quantity, and quality is what’s delivered. We noticed that the serving sizes were a little smaller than what one is used to in India, but also quickly realized that the servings were small because the food is quite rich—as Italian food tends to be.

The Good Life With IQ recommends

Mushroom Cream Tortellini

These excellent little parcels filled with mushroom and ricotta cheese and covered with a creamy cheese and mushroom sauce were perfect as a main meal—just enough for two, and leaving space for dessert.

Eternal Summer

This heavenly-sounding dessert is built on Conçu’s patisserie expertise—a tangy, jammy strawberry puree inside a puff pastry parcel, topped with a scoop of cream cheese ice cream. And while the European-style strawberry puree might be too tangy for local tastes, the cream cheese ice cream is a great counterbalance.

Classic Tiramisu

Tiramisu is one dessert that we’ve spent quite some time sampling in various places. We can’t claim to know what the authentic item tastes like, but we firmly believe that this is the best version to be had in Hyderabad. It even comes with a dropper filled with coffee decoction to make sure the layers of biscuit stay soaked!

How to get to Conçu Cucina

This is another one that’s off the beaten path, but luckily there’s only one approach road. From the Jubilee Hills Checkpost traffic signal, head down the main road—Road 36—towards Hitech City for about two kilometres. Just before you hit the traffic signal, turn left into the lane after Croma at pillar number 38 (there’s a Brand Factory outlet on the corner), and then right. The restaurant is about 100 meters further on the left. Here’s the restaurant’s location.

Good restaurants for veg food - Conçu tortellini - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
Conçu Cucina’s excellent mushroom tortellini.
Good restaurants for veg food - Conçu tiramisu and eternal summer - vegetarian food in Hyderabad
The divine tiramisu (with its coffee-filled pipette) and the accomplished eternal summer

So if you’re ever in a mixed group and don’t know where to eat out, these places have both great vegetarian food and nice non-veg options.

Happy eating! And if you know any other restaurants with good vegetarian food, leave a comment and let me know!

Also read: This magnificent forgotten necropolis is a must-see in Hyderabad

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