When I was planning the trip to Ambala, I found very few articles or blog posts on what to do there or what to eat. However, I did find a detailed post by someone who had spent six months there and mainly wrote about what all to eat in Ambala, focussing on the markets and street food. When I shared this article with my brother, he was very enthused and declared that we shall ‘raid’ every market when I’m there!! Well, we did spend each evening in Ambala eating out and it was a delicious affair. By the end of it, I can officially declare myself an ‘Expert’ on Eating out in Ambala : Street Food & Restaurant Guide.
Ambala town is located on the border of Punjab and only about 1.5 hours from Chandigarh, therefore the food & eating out culture is heavily influenced by Punjabi population. Street Food at Bartan Bazaar and Sadar Bazar
The main market is Sadar Bazar, Bartan Bazar and the rest of the markets are centred around it. One of the first things I noticed in the markets was the overabundance of street food stalls and people queuing them in the evenings.
Aloo Tikki at Vishal Chaat Bhandar – My brother’s colleague took me to Vishaal Chaat Bhandar telling me that its got the most amazing Aloo Tikki served on pattals (dried leaf) and after having it, I had to agree! It was way better than any Aloo Tikki I had back in Delhi. The same colleague also recommended Pahalwan in Halwai Street and Neki Ram in Bartan Bazaar, but we were too full that day to try any aloo tikkis.
There are two other interesting street food shops – Satranga and Pachranga located near to the Vishal Chaat Bhandar. Their claim to fame are golgappas served with 5 (hence named Pachranga) and 7 (hence named Satranga) types of flavoured water (or simply put golgappe ka paani). We sampled the golgappas at Pachranga and it was a revelation!! How innovative the golgappa water can be made and I so wish Delhi street food vendors can come up with something similar. We noticed two more vendors – Sangam and Sharma who sell chaat and Gol Gappas.
Jalebi – Now this place deserves special mention as I had the best Matka Kulfi ever here (yes ever!! And I have had quite many during my travels across India). It was sweet but not too sweet, milky but not heavy and totally melted in mouth leaving behind a delicious flavour. If there is one place that gets my ‘must eat’ vote, it is Jalebi. My brother told me that they also sell fresh ghee fried jalebis which are very popular with locals and even army cantonment crowd but I opted not to sample it the evening we went.
Restaurants and Nightlife
I was surprised and then not surprised when my brother mentioned about Café Lounges & Pubs in Ambala. Ofcourse, with a sizeable Punjabi population & Army crowd, the business of Pubs & Lounges will do very well in Ambala. We went out to a popular Lounge Café called Pyramid one evening and there was live music playing. It was nice time spent decent food & drinks (nothing great though) and I would not have expected anything more from the place. But I think it’s great there are options like these available. There are family restaurants too in Ambala and some of the nicer ones (as per my brother) are Standard, Jain Soda Water (very popular with locals)
Snacks and other Shops
My brother highly praised Parkash Coffee House for Cottage Cheese Toasted Sandwiches and Beaten Coffee, though I did not try it out.
Kansal Sweets – This place is apparently popular with army crowd and a bit urbane crowd and my brother says the samosas there are yumm!!
Going around Ambala and trying out the street food, lounge café and other restaurants was a great time pass and something I might not try out on an usual travel in a city (as I like spending more time exploring heritage and culture rather than food of a city, if given a choice). Do have a bite at all these places, when in Ambala.
Note: You can read the article which I consulted for food trails in Ambala here (it’s a well written account).