The Good Life With IQ
If you want tips, tricks and insights on travelling, being vegetarian, sustainability and India, and from someone who’s been there and done that, then The Good Life With IQ is a good place to be! The inspiration for this blog was a trip to the Lakshadweep islands in early 2017. We had a really tough time trying to figure out how to plan our trip, and the fact that there wasn’t really much useful information on the net was really frustrating. When we got back, I decided to write a post on how we planned our Lakshadweep trip, so that other travellers could be spared our frustration. But once I got started, it was difficult to stop. And that's how The Good Life With IQ got where it is today.
Here are four more restaurants in Hyderabad—besides the six I’ve already recommended—that you can eat at as a vegetarian and still get served great food (even if they’re recommended by a non-veg friend).
Hyderabad may be known for its meat-centric cuisine, but it’s got plenty of places for vegetarians too. If you’re a vegetarian with carnivorous friends or family, though, eating out can be a problem. So here are four more restaurants that serve unexpectedly great vegetarian and non-vegetarian food in equal measure.
Also read: 6 unexpectedly great restaurants for vegetarians in Hyderabad
Again, these are all in Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills or Hitech City, because that’s just where the mushrooming restaurant scene in Hyderabad us centred. (Note to self: Must try to find a good veg restaurant in the Old City, just for laughs.)
1. All Seasons Lebanese Restaurant
Cuisine: Middle Eastern and Indian | Format: Modest casual dining | Location: Road no. 3, Banjara Hills | Alcohol: No| IQ’s eco-score: 2.5/5
This modest little place is tucked away on Banjara Hills’ Road no. 3, and serves some very nice Middle Eastern food. The name is probably an attempt to piggyback on the more famous 4Seasons restaurant that serves a similar menu. But we’ve found that this one is actually a little better (in our opinion, of course). The setup is small and unassuming, with two small indoor floors and an outdoor area with wrought-iron-and-wood benches for seating.
We’ve been eating at (and ordering in from) All Seasons since even before we turned vegetarian. Their menu is undeniably non-veg heavy (because, well, Middle Eastern) but they do have some very nice veg stuff as well, and in flavours that one doesn’t generally experience in Hyderabad. If you’re vegetarian and tired of South Indian flavours, you should try this one out.
The Good Life With IQ recommends
Vegetarian mezze platter
From what we’ve heard, vegetarian mezze (roughly translated as ‘tasters’) seem to be an integral part of all Lebanese meals. This platter puts the more popular ones on a single plate big enough to be a light meal for two. With its falafel (crisp-fried chickpea dumplings), hummus (garlicky mashed chickpeas), mouttabel (mashed eggplant) fattoush (a salad of mixed greens with crisp-fried pita bread) and wedges of pita bread, the mezze platter is light, flavoursome and satisfying.
The vegetarian mezze platter at All Seasons. Clockwise from top left: Falafel on pita bread, mouttabel, fattoush, hummus
This is lightly spiced dish of cauliflower and mixed veggies in a light tomato gravy, served with rice. If you prefer Indian cuisine and are unsure about trying Middle Eastern vegetarian food, this one would make a nice introduction. It’s got enough familiar flavours to put you at ease, and is still subtly different.
Baklava (and maybe kunafa, too)
For those not in the know, baklava is actually a whole range of sweets involving flaky pastry, nuts, honey or sugar syrup, and ghee. While the Levantine area around Lebanon and Syria in the Middle East can’t exclusively lay claim to baklava, it’s definitely become an integral part of the cuisine. At All Seasons, take your pick from a separate baklava menu, courtesy their exclusive baklava outlet across the road. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also try their kunafa. But be warned, this dessert of crunchy, syrup-soaked vermicelli on a bed of soft cheese (yes, cheese) is an acquired taste.
A pyramid of walnut baklava at Gourmet Baklava, All Seasons’ speciality baklava shop
IQ’s eco-score: 2.5/5
All Seasons scores for having some non-airconditioned outdoor seating and a simple setup, but loses points in my eyes for having disposable paper table mats and paper napkins. All in all, their score on the eco-friendliness scale is average.
How to get to All Seasons
Getting here is relatively simple. If you’re driving up from Punjagutta towards Jubilee Hills, turn left just after the NDTV office, about a kilometre up from Nagarjuna Circle. All Seasons is about 100 meters further on the right. If you’re driving down from Jubilee Hills towards Punjagutta, start from the Check Post and keep going for about three kilometres. At the traffic signal at Q Mart (the third signal from the Check Post), take a U-turn and then take the first left. Again, All Seasons is about 100 meters down the road on the right.
Use this Google Maps location for navigation.
Also read: 12 vegetarian dishes from all over India that you need to try
2. Olive Bistro
Cuisine: Mediterranean | Format: High-end casual dining and craft brewery | Location: Durgam Cheruvu Lake Park, Jubilee Hills | Alcohol: Yes | IQ’s eco-score: 3/5
This open-plan restaurant overlooks the Durgam Cheruvu (also called the ‘secret lake’) in Jubilee Hills, and has a very relaxed Greek-Mediterranean atmosphere. Supposedly inspired by the Greek island of Santorini, the layout has different open-air seating areas running down the side of the hill, and two indoor areas. One of these is its craft brewery, The Hoppery, which has a more modern hipster bar feel to it. The Hoppery is in a high, glass-walled room with lots of light and an airy feel, despite being indoors.
Olive Bistro serves Mediterranean food (meaning Italian, Greek, Lebanese etc.) with a modern twist. Most people don’t realize that, though these cuisines aren’t really known for their vegetarian food, they still have some great veggie traditions. Olive Bistro makes the most these to deliver a great range of veg options. And if you like a good glass of craft beer to go with your veggies, even better.
The Good Life With IQ recommends
Linguine, tomato and burrata
Linguine—spaghetti’s thicker, flatter cousin—gets a simple but incredibly tasty treatment here. A bunch of these long noodles tossed with whole garlic, cherry tomatoes and olive oil would be flavoursome enough. But throw in some green peppercorns and light burrata cheese, and the entire thing becomes Italy on a plate!
The simple but extremely flavoursome linguine, tomato and burrata
If this thin-crust pizza had come with just mozzarella cheese, basil and tomatoes (yes, again), it would still have been great. But the balsamic vinegar glaze, with its sweet-sour complex flavours, gives it an entirely new dimension.
If you prefer spicy Indian food to pasta and pizza, this one might just be a nice introduction to Mediterranean cuisine. Saffron rice and vegetables in a rich, peppery gravy—great comfort food, especially on a cold day.
The comforting (and spicy) crock pot
Nutella French toast
Dessert lovers will rejoice when they try this. Olive Bistro has taken the humble French toast and turned it into something amazing! Thick slices of custard-soaked bread filled with hazelnut and chocolate cream and topped with homemade ice cream makes this a must-try—but only if there’s more than one of you. A word to the wise: Custard usually contains egg, so check if you’re concerned about that.
The sinful but irresistible Nutella French toast with its two scoops of homemade ice cream
IQ’s eco-score: 3/5
With lots of outdoor seating and not too much plastic in evidence, Olive Bistro would have scored high on my scale. The only downside I could see—and it’s a big one—is the design of The Hoppery. Designed like a glasshouse, the place holds in heat and needs to be airconditioned all the time, even when it’s cool outside. And it doesn’t even have any windows to open.
Getting to Olive Bistro
Because it’s so far off the main roads of Jubilee Hills, getting here takes some doing. Use this Google Maps location to navigate.
If you’re not the navigating kind, drive from the Jubilee Hills Check Post towards Film Nagar, and turn right onto Road 45 at the first traffic signal. Then take the first left, and then just keep going until you can’t anymore. Once you enter the arched gate of the Durgam Cheruvu Lake Park, you should see the signboard in the far left corner.
Also read: IQ’s veg review: Olive Bistro
Cuisine: Mumbai-style Irani café | Format: Mid-range casual dining | Location: Road no. 1, Jubilee Hills | Alcohol: Yes | IQ’s eco-score: 3/5
SodaBottleOpenerWala is a modern and quirky take on the Irani cafés of mid-1900s Mumbai. It deliberately tries to recreate the chaotic but cosy atmosphere of the typical Mumbai Irani café (different from the Hyderabadi Irani cafés that have their own distinctive atmosphere). The cluttered café décor, the humorous touches, and the simple street food-y menu loaded with Parsi favourites make this place a very interesting experience. If only the music wasn’t so loud. But maybe that’s part of the atmosphere.
SodaBottleOpenerWala might just be the only restaurant in Hyderabad to serve Parsi food. And though the cuisine is legendary for its focus on meat, this menu has more than enough veg options to keep you happy. When we asked a Parsi friend whether the dishes they served here were authentic, she said they were a little too spicy, but otherwise quite well done. I suppose that’s understandable, since it’s supposed to be street food-style Parsi food. And for those craving Hyderabadi Old City-style food in a restaurant atmosphere, this place has that too.
The Good Life With IQ recommends
Aloo Aunty’s vegetable cutlet
The humorous title aside, this is one extremely satisfying vegetable cutlet. It’s brilliantly crunchy on the outside, with a spicy filling of minced vegetables and coconut. It’s even served with a tiny jug of sweet tamarind chutney to balance the spiciness. And unless you’re a big eater, a plate can easily be shared by two people.
Aloo Aunty’s veg cutlet, with tamarind chutney on the side, and vada pav in the background
Having eaten innumerable vada pavs on the streets of Pune and Mumbai, I can safely say that this is not really an authentic rendition. But I think it’s the closest you’ll get to a good vada pav in Hyderabad. So if you have a craving for a decent potato pakora sandwich with mint chutney and fried green chillies on the side, this is the place to go.
Boiled egg sandwich
This one is for you ovitarians with a serious craving for boiled egg. The sandwich is made with two huge—and I’m talking almost six inches on one side— slices of bread stuffed with segments of boiled egg and cheesy mayonnaise. Funnily, the menu also mentions green chillies, but we didn’t notice any in our sandwich. Not that we minded, because this is one serious boiled egg sandwich even without them. Be warned: at least four boiled eggs go into each sandwich, so it’s a heart-stopping meal in itself.
Many Hyderabadis will recognize dhansak as being very close to dalcha, but with a more pronounced flavour of caramelized onions. The veg dhansak here is a simple, hearty and flavourful dish of veggies in a thick chana dal gravy, with Parsi-style fried rice and a salad of onions, cucumbers and tomato. And all served in a traditional brass tiffin carrier!
Veg dhansak served in a wonderfully-vintage brass lunch carrier
Jeroo Aunty’s toblerone mousse
If you’re looking for light, fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate mousse, then you’re in the wrong place. This mousse is dense, slightly chewy and completely awesome. Made with the famous honey-caramel toblerone chocolate, it even comes with one of their pyramid-shaped segments on top. Just a heads-up though: this dessert is marked as non-veg on the menu, so there’s probably some egg in there somewhere.
The incredibly dense but sinful toblerone chocolate mousse. Note the spoon standing straight up in it!
IQ’s eco-score: 3/5
The great thing about SodaBottleOpenerWala is that everything is kept quite simple. This translates into glass-topped tables that don’t need table mats, simple stainless steel cutlery, and traditional plates and containers. I don’t remember seeing anything obviously plastic the last time we were there. It even has some outdoor seating. The downside is that it does, of course, have most of its seating in an indoor airconditioned area. Also, I’m a little reluctant to give a place a higher score without noticing something that’s deliberately eco-friendly.
Getting to SodaBottleOpenerWala
This place is refreshingly easy to get to, being on the main road between the Jubilee Hills Check Post and Film Nagar. If you’re approaching from the Jubilee Hills Check Post, drive towards Film Nagar, pass the first traffic signal and then take a U-turn. It’s on the left, about 50 meters up and back down the hill. If you’re approaching from Film Nagar or Banjara Hills Road no. 12, it’s between the Film Nagar traffic signal and the Road 45 traffic signal, about 100 meters past the D.E. Shaw/Arcesium building, on the left.
Use this Google Maps location for navigation.
Also read: This magnificent forgotten necropolis is a must-see in Hyderabad
Cuisine: Italian | Format: High-end fine dining | Location: Raheja Mindspace, Hitech City | Alcohol: Yes | IQ’s eco-score: 3.5/5
Prego is in the Westin hotel in Hitech City’s Raheja Mindspace industrial park, and is definitely one of the best—if not the best—Italian restaurants in town. Of course, being in a five-star hotel makes it expensive, but it’s worth it on special occasions. The restaurant itself has a modern but comfortable feel, with an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs at work. It also has outdoor seating next to the pool, which is very nice during the cooler months.
The extensive menu has lots of vegetarian options, though you might need some patience, because the descriptions aren’t that easy to understand. But once you finally figure out what to order, you’re almost guaranteed to get something great. And while you’re waiting for your food, take a bite or two of the complimentary crusty wholewheat bread with fresh tomato sauce. We always end up finishing the whole loaf, and then regret having ordered a starter!
The irresistible complimentary bread, with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chilli oil
The Good Life With IQ recommends
Veg Caesar salad
This leafy salad is simple but extremely flavourful, with a tangy dressing and sun-dried tomatoes, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The last time we ordered this salad, we couldn’t take any decent pictures because—to our delight—the hotel turned off most of the lights for earth hour!
The veg lasagne uses diced vegetables instead of minced meat, and sacrifices nothing in terms of flavour. Everything that makes lasagne special is still there, right from the dollops of tangy tomato sauce and the layers of pasta sheets to the flavoursome filling and—best of all—the crunchy bits of burnt Parmesan cheese on top.
The rich and satisfying vegetable lasagne. With crunchy burnt parmesan on top!
For a long time, the tiramisu at Prego was by far the best in town, until it was dethroned by the one at Conçu Cucina. But that doesn’t mean that this one’s not good anymore. On the contrary, it’s still extremely awesome! With its layers of sweetened mascarpone cream cheese and Italian biscuits soaked in strong coffee, Prego’s tiramisu still one of my all-time favourites. Don’t be surprised if you can’t stop eating it, even after a big meal.
The tiramisu may not be much to look at, but it packs a flavour punch! A must-try if you like coffee.
IQ’s eco-score: 3.5/5
The last time we went, I was a bit miffed at the bottled water that sat on our table by default. But when our waiter asked whether we preferred regular water, I felt better. I was also happy to see that the table mats were ones that could just be wiped clean, and weren’t ‘disposable’ paper mats or cloth mats that need washing. And we were thrilled that the entire hotel shut off all but the most essential lights for earth hour while we were there! Of course, as a five-star hotel, they couldn’t shut down the airconditioning too, though that would also have been nice.
Getting to Prego
Prego is in the ground floor of the Westin hotel in the Raheja Mindspace industrial park in Hitech City. If you’re entering from the main gate, take the first left, keep going about 200 meters, take a U-turn and take the first left. And if you’re entering from the side gate on the Inorbit Mall road, turn left at the T-junction, then turn right, keep going about 200 meters, take a U-turn and take the first left.
Here’s the Goole Maps location to help you navigate.
Also read: Turning vegetarian? Here are 10 tips from someone who’s done it
Know any other great places for vegetarians? Leave a comment and let me know!