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Perched at the ground level of the ritzy Hotel Hindustan International, Atrium Cafe invites gourmands to savor a range of cuisines like Indian, Continental and Chinese. The restaurant offers extensive la carte and buffet menus and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Floor-to-ceiling windows pour in a lot of sunlight inside, thus creating an inviting milieu for all its guests. Grab a table and ask for day specials or choose to go with dependable options from its elaborate menu.
Located a few minutes away from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Raj Bandhu Sweet Shop is buzzing with activity during all times of the day. Selling the choicest sweetmeats in town at fixed rates, you can even sample a few of the usual suspects such as gulab jamun, jalebi, motichur laddoo and others. Spicy deep-fried snacks that Indians consume at tea time are also on offer. This shop is hard to miss because of the line of policemen who sit right by the entrance to guard the little streets leading up to the temple.
Lassi, a yogurt drink topped with fruits and spices, is hugely popular in the Northern side of India, and Varanasi has the atmospheric Blue Lassi Shop to boast an exclusive shop. Painted in blazing blue, the small outlet is on the narrow alley leading to the mighty Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The small seating area has a nice display of photographs. Served in earthen pots, the drink is a must-try while in India; look no further than this blue laden charmer to try it out.
The Brown Bread Bakery has plunged abysmally in terms of hygiene, ambiance and service, ever since the original German owner Michael left after differences with his Indian partner. Drawn in by previous glowing reviews in popular backpacker guides, unsuspecting budget travelers and backpackers still arrive here only to be greeted by a musty odor, mice scurrying hurriedly between cushions and lethargic service. Make sure you ask the waiter if you are likely to get what is included in a set meal; the chefs often replace non-vegetarian items for vegetarian ones, for example mushrooms replace meat. The menu rattles on about various N.G.O's supported by this cafe as well as the freshest meat being flown in from Delhi. For what it's worth, the prices are inflated but then again, to each his own. Go for yourself and check it out - and maybe later head to the newer Brown Bread Bakery on the other side of the road for an unbiased comparison. The old Brown Bread Bakery is a perfect example of how change in management can make or break a business.
Varanasi Cafe and Bakery Restaurant has been a city landmark for quite some time. The bakery-restaurant is serves up authentic Indian and European preparations in a no-frills, homey setting. Be it those appetizing salads, hot soups, decadent baked eats or savory noodles, everything is cooked fresh and with the choicest of ingredients available. Nosh on their specials like salami, pastas and noodles and indulge in mellow pies and croissants for dessert.
Tucked away in the by-lanes of Varanasi's Old City lies the Vishnu Tea Emporium whose hand-painted signs are seen on almost every wall of the ghats area and its alleys. Young Vishnu who speaks a smattering of French proudly discusses how he explains the tea-making process to French tourists in their own language. Home-made spices and coffees are up for sale, while those wanting to sample a hot tea before buying it can do so too.
Consistently dishing out a mind-boggling range of fresh and tantalizing traditional sweets since 1968, the family-run Ksheer Sagar uses 100% natural ingredients in all its preparations. Literally translating into Ocean of Milk, this shop does roaring business no matter what time of the day or year. Locals flock here to pick up delicacies such as gulab jamun, jalebi and shrikhand (a sweetened yogurt served with cardamom, pistachios and saffron). If the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, Ksheer Sagar wins in a heartbeat!
The Bread of Life Bakery is undeniably a haven for home-sick Western tourists who crave their hearty breakfasts consisting muffins, warm pancakes with syrup, steaming hot chocolate, croissants and fresh omelets. Not just this, Chinese dishes are also served at this relaxed cafe where one can lounge around writing postcards or letters for hours on end. An art gallery and silk shop upstairs stocks some interesting things that can be taken home as souvenirs. A good idea would be to drop in after a sunrise boat ride. Only cash accepted.