From brunch spots, restaurants off the tourist track, and where to find the best coffee… here are the best restaurants to visit in Varanasi, India.
Last updated 10/04/2023
India is a well-documented assault on the senses. There’s the kaleidoscope of colours, all saffron yellows, blues, reds and fuchsia pinks, each one brighter than the last. Then there’s the never-ending buzz of noise, which comes mostly from the tuk-tuk drivers who endlessly honk their horns as they zip through the craziness of the roads.
Of course, taste is one of the most important senses in India. There are so many delicious foods and drinks to try in this beautiful country – so many!
I thought I would share some of my favourite restaurants in Varanasi that I was lucky enough to try on my recent trip to India.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!
Why visit Varanasi?
You might not have heard of Varanasi before. I visited as part of my recent group travel tour to India that stopped off at various locations as part of the 11-day trip – Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Tordi Gahr, and Jaipur.
Varanasi is known as the spiritual capital of India. It’s significant to those of the Hindu faith for being the holiest out of the seven holy cities. It’s also known for being the place where families travel to in order to cremate their loved ones. You can see the funeral rituals taking place on the ghats throughout the day, which is a pretty incredible sight.
In some parts, Varanasi is as busy and loud and manic as the rest of India. Crossing the road here was one of the most nerve-wracking things to do during the whole trip. It was absolute chaos, with horns honking everywhere! With lots of narrow winding lanes weaving their way down to ghats, you often have to jump into the side to let people on bikes past.
However, once you get down to the ghats it has this real sense of calm. I remember walking back along the ghats after visiting one of the cafes I mention later, Brown Bread Cafe, and it was probably the most relaxed I’d felt in the whole trip. Just being by the water brings a real sense of calm and peacefulness, which was very much welcomed.
Now let’s get to the food. Here are the best places to visit in Varanasi for delicious food, authentic Indian cuisine, and awesome coffee!
My favourite restaurants in Varanasi
Best for: The OG hole-in-the-wall spot for lassi
Address: CK 12/1 Kunj Gali, Kachaudi Gali, Near Rajbandhu, Govindpura, Varanasi
This is the original and the best place to get lassi in Varanasi. It’s a must-visit, so if you’re going to eat anywhere when you’re in town then make it here! I’d read about Blue Lassi in a blog on the way to India and so I knew I wanted to come, but it was just as good as I imagined.
For the uninitiated, lassi is a yoghurt-style dessert in India. This place, Blue Lassi, has been running for over 75 years and is a family-run business. It’s a tiny hole in a wall located down one of the narrow weaving alleys.
However, you’ll know you’re in the right place because it’s crowded out with tourists. You’ll also spot the hundreds of photographs dotted all over the wall, which you can’t help but be fascinated by while you’re waiting for your lassi to arrive. I kept trying to see if I recognised anyone.
Right, so let’s get onto the lassi themselves. What makes Blue Lassi’s offering different from to rest is that they top their lassi with a huge variety of toppings. You can have anything from strawberries, banana, chocolate and pomegranate. And once you’ve had one you’ll want to try them all.
We came twice while we were in town but I’m a bit sad we didn’t squeeze in a third. My favourite was coconut topped with pomegranate – so tasty!
Best for: Hipster brunch vibes with a view
Address: D 25/42 Ganga Mahal, Bangali Tola Rd, Pandey Ghat, Bangali Tola, Varanasi
Where should you get brunch in Varanasi? Well, if strong coffee, fresh juice and banana pancakes are a little bit of you then I would recommend Brown Bread Café in Varanasi. This was another place I’d read about on a blog.
It was definitely worth walking through all the narrow winding streets to get to. You can sit at the table and chairs on street level if you want to but I would highly recommend walking up the many stairs to get to the roof.
You’ll be greeted with a gorgeous rooftop café with a relaxed hipster vibe complete with wooden benches, cushions to relax on, and amazing views.
It feels so calm and fresh up here in comparison to the bustle and noise of the alleys down below, and that makes it totally worth it. The service was faultless too. I ordered some delicious banana pancakes which came with a drizzle of honey on the side and a big glass of fresh orange. Perfection!
Cozy Corner Restaurant
Best for: Yummy local food with friendly service
Address: Plot No. 6 , B-/128, Dumrao Bagh, Assi, Varanasi
Paneer curry was a new discovery for me on this trip to India. I imagine it’s good at most places in India, but I enjoyed mine at a cute place called Cozy Corner Restaurant located near our hotel in Varanasi.
It’s not a fancy place or anything. It’s very simple and is pretty no frills, but it serves up delicious, authentic Indian food that I really enjoyed.
The restaurant is small but perfectly formed. We got one of the two tables on the tiny open-air balcony upstairs, so we were able to eat while we watched the street below. I loved the cheese naan I ordered and the paneer curry was rich in flavour and delicious. I hoovered it all up!
I also have to give a shout-out to the staff who were super friendly and charming. What more could you want from a restaurant in Varanasi?
If you’re looking for somewhere away from the crowds and not so touristy I would recommend this as one of the restaurants in Varanasi to visit.
Best for: When you’re craving western food
Address: B 1/178, Assi Ghat, Varanasi
This was another recommendation from our lovely group travel tour guide Sana – where would we be without her? If you’re craving something that’s not curry then definitely visit Pizzeria Vaatika Café.
You can expect a good mix of pizzas, pastas, plus Indian food. I opted for a pizza as a change from the Indian cuisine we’d had over the past few days and it was super tasty. They even did my favourite pizza topping – pineapple! – so I was very happy.
The restaurant is also known for its delicious apple pie. I didn’t order one but pretty much everyone else at our table did. When they arrived and the smell of cinnamon wafted my way I was super envious!
With the open-air location on the ghats this felt very relaxed and was the perfect place to unwind. There even was an acoustic guitar set on the go.
One thing I have to mention is a funny thing that happened the next day. We were walking along the ghats and I saw the couple who were sitting at the next table to us in the restaurant, the acoustic guitar player, and someone in our tour group who’d gone off to do his own thing – all within five minutes of each other. It felt like walking down the street at home and bumping into acquaintances when you’re doing the shopping.
It was pretty bizarre for India, but it definitely helped to give Varanasi that warm, homely feel. And I guess that’s what it is – a place about family.