14 Lal Bagh Road, Bangalore.
Meal for two: Rs 200
As children we used to call it "Marvellous Tiffin Room", an understandable mistake. Founded in 1924, it was originally open only for breakfast, and everybody from the chief minister downwards would queue up from before sunrise for a place. MTR is known equally for its great food and quirky character: the disdain for aesthetics, the legendarily crabbity waiters, the open-to-all kitchens and the stern, unintentionally funny, etiquette booklets they handed out (now collectors’ pieces).
It’s had a dramatic history. During World War II, rice rationing threatened their main idli business. So they desperately experimented with alternatives and invented the now universally popular rava idli. In the 1970s, with Mrs Gandhi’s bizarre Food Control Act, they weren’t able to supply food at the prescribed prices, and rather than compromise quality, they shut down. But that’s when they got into packaged foods, a business they recently sold to a Danish company for $80 million!
Their fluffy, crisp masala dosa and silken soft rava idli are legendary. But other not-to-miss items are the bisibelebath, uddina vada and chandrahara, their signature sweet, made from khoa and lavang, and named, for some reason, after a popular 1940s Kannada movie.