Kolkata Restaurants and Dining

(Kolkata / Calcutta, West Bengal, India)

Skyline viewKolkata is the best place to sample Bengali cuisine. Locals are known for their culinary prowess and generations of colonial influence mean they've adopted a truly international palate. In fact, Kolkata had a reputation for having the best restaurants in India at a time when other cities on the subcontinent didn't even have a culture of dining out.

The best selection of eateries reside on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River. Street food is a speciality across the city, with refreshingly affordable dining options within walking distance of most major hotel districts. When out in search of street food, be sure to look for stalls that have a long line of customers. Popular street vendors get that way for a reason, and the high volume of food they prepare means the food will be fresh. It also indicates better hygiene, which can be an issue in Kolkata.

Photo of the city centre

What to Eat, and Where

A favourite dish for sale on the street is the 'kathi kebab', a speciality that was invented in Kolkata. This is essentially a roll of thick flat bread (chapatti) stuffed with Indian cheese (paneer), chicken, egg or mutton. It is also topped off with a delicious and spicy sauce called 'chaat masala'. This type of food is wildly popular with locals and directly contributes to an authentic cultural experience.

Bengali cuisine also makes excellent use of seafood caught in the Bay of Bengal. Fish curry (macher jhol) is widely available at local restaurants and dining establishments throughout Kolkata. Steamed hilsa fish is also excellent in the city, being typically marinated in mustard spice and served with rice.

Sweets and desserts are another Kolkata trademark and many of them incorporate locally made cheeses. Cheese balls can be dipped in sweet syrup (rasagolla), served with sweetened milk (rosomalai) or deep-fried (pantua). Fans of Indian cuisine will appreciate the menu change in Kolkata, as most of what is served in the West is in the Punjabi vein of Indian cooking.