The Best Restaurants In Kochi, Kerala
Published October 24, 2019
Greetings, fellow travelers and foodies! My recent solo journey to the city of Kochi (also spelled ‘Cochin’) in the Indian state of Kerala was one of my favorite trips of the year. Kochi is a city defined by beautiful beaches and a unique system of marshy canals and rivers known as the backwaters (which you can read about in my comprehensive guide to the city). But Kochi has one more thing going for it that can’t be overstated: its vibrant food scene.
In this post, I’ll share some of the best restaurants I found as well as other tips on how to make the most of Kochi as a culinary destination. Here are the topics I’ll be covering. Click any link below to skip directly to that section.
- Top Recommendations
- Branch Out
- Beer and Cocktails
- Honorable Mentions
1. Top Recommendations
The following restaurants are perfect for a sit-down meal. All four are located in the waterfront historical area known as Fort Kochi, which is where visitors tend to stay.
My homestay recommended this seafood restaurant specializing in local dishes, and it was pretty good. The menu is large, and ordering a dish sort of felt like a shot in the dark. Luckily, the spicy fish curry I got for my main course was as full of flavor as I hoped it would be. The only complaint I have about Oceanos was that the service was sort of slow.
Fusion Bay is probably my favorite restaurant on the list. Not only was it casual, but the service was good and the dishes were stunning. It looked as if most meals came with the wide array of side dishes pictured below, spread beautifully on a banana leaf and served on a metal tray. They offer a ton of seafood and Keralan dishes, so if you want to experience local flavor, I highly recommend trying Fusion Bay.
Rasoi Fort Kochi
Conveniently located on Rose Street in Fort Kochi, this restaurant specializes in North Indian food. Don’t let that stop you from checking it out for lunch or dinner one day. I ordered their chicken skewer platter and a serving of cheese and garlic naan, both of which were packed full of flavor and hot off the grill.
Old Harbour Hotel Restaurant
This is the fanciest (i.e., most expensive) restaurant on the list, but if you’re looking to splurge on some great food, look no further. I ordered a crab dish with two different sauces and rice on my final night in Kochi, and it was a great way to end the trip. Old Harbour is located here.
Be sure to leave room for dessert! I ordered ice cream with fruit and crumble. It sounds pretty standard, but the tartness of the fruit perfectly complemented the sweet vanilla. It was honestly one of the most memorable desserts I’ve had this year.
2. Branch Out
This section features some additional ideas, including snacks and more casual options.
Try a Tibetan Restaurant
I was surprised to see quite a few different Tibetan restaurants around town, so I was excited to try one. I went to Tibetan Chef’s Restaurant and ordered a plate of dumplings, which were simple yet delicious. If I had more time, I would’ve gladly tried one or two more places to get a better sense of what Tibetan cuisine is like. I recommend it, especially if you’ve never been to a Tibetan restaurant before.
Visit a Bakery
If you were unaware that India had amazing pastries, I’m here to tell you that they do and you need to try them! Bakeries are everywhere in Fort Kochi. I happened to get the bun and green cookie pictured below from Elite Bakery, but I visited a few more and they all seemed to have a wide selection of sweets.
Ginger House Restaurant
Located in Jew Town (a short tuk-tuk ride away from Fort Kochi), Ginger House was probably the most unique restaurant I found. The entire menu features ginger-inspired dishes and drinks. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered a ginger milkshake, but it ended up being really good!
Ginger House is also connected to a museum and a hotel, and the courtyard is stunning. Even the view of the river from the outdoor dining area is really nice.
This common Indian dish is one that I’ve had many times at home, so when I saw Al-Falah Biryani Hut at the Kunnumpuram Junction, I couldn’t resist trying it. I would say it was more or less what I expected. Nonetheless, there’s something wholesome about rice with meat and a ton of fragrant spices.
Can a blog called ‘Caffeinated Excursions’ even have a food post without at least a mention of the city’s most notable cafes? Two of my favorite coffee shops in Kochi are discussed below.
Kashi Art Cafe
As soon as I walked through the door, I knew that Kashi Art Cafe had all the makings of a top-notch establishment: a creative menu, an interesting concept, and a casual yet welcoming vibe. I liked it so much that I had to come back a second time. Their iced coffee with coconut milk and honey was a beverage I simply couldn’t pass up.
Take a moment or two to peek all the way into the back of the dining area even if you don’t sit there. I really liked the art they had on display there, as well as the beautiful courtyard in the middle with natural lighting.
What I loved most about this particular cafe was its beautiful open-air courtyard as well as the bookstore (or library?) on site. The drink I got was good, but it was especially nice as a place to just sit and relax for a bit.
4. Beer and Cocktails
While traveling, I am usually on the lookout for interesting places to grab a drink. Bars (and breweries, etc.) can reveal a lot about a city’s food scene overall. With that in mind, the main thing I noticed about Kochi is that they were few and far between. And that’s no coincidence: the sale of alcohol in Kerala was essentially banned until mid-2017, according to this and other sources online. Some restrictions are still in place, so the bar scene in Kochi is quite literally in its infancy. Here’s some more info.
I recommend sticking to beer over mixed drinks in Kochi (I’ll explain why in a minute). And if you’re going to have beer, you might as well take advantage of a local brand: Kingfisher. It was very prominent on almost every drink menu I saw, and I tried a few of the many varieties available. If you order one, expect it to come in a big bottle (which fills roughly 2.5 glasses of beer).
A note on cocktails
I only had one or two cocktails in Kochi mainly because they were so expensive. With so few bars to choose from, I never found a place with really original or noteworthy mixed drinks.
5. Honorable Mentions
The last two items on my list aren’t really restaurants or cafes you can go to, but they were some of my favorite food-related memories of Kochi.
Homemade meal on a river cruise
A visit to Kochi isn’t complete without a Kerala Backwaters river cruise (learn more here). Although the boat ride was incredibly relaxing, another highlight of the day trip was the delicious lunch we were served.
We docked at what honestly looked like someone’s house right on the banks of the river. Then a couple of people came out and served everything pictured below: a vegetarian curry accompanied by a variety of pickled vegetables and a deliciously crispy biscuit (the name escapes me… if you know what it’s called, please leave a comment and tell me!).
It may not look like a huge meal, but they offered seconds (and thirds, and fourths…) of everything. Each serving was light and refreshing, but I left feeling quite full and satisfied.
Complimentary breakfast at my homestay
Last but definitely not least, another meal I’ll remember quite fondly in Kochi was the free breakfast that was served each morning at my homestay. I can’t speak for other homestays, but Coconut Grove Homestay (affiliate link) provided a soup or curry as well as local pastries and juice every morning.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Fort Kochi, be sure to choose one with a complimentary breakfast! You won’t regret it. To browse other hotels and guesthouses in the area, feel free to use one of the affiliate links below!
To Wrap Up...
Did I get sick? And Other Final Reflections on Eating in Kochi
As a lifelong fan of Indian food, it was quite a treat to at long last taste some local flavors in India. I think the biggest takeaway from eating in India for a week is how diverse the options are. Keralan cuisine is not commonly found in the US, so it was especially interesting to try some local seafood and fish specialties with Portuguese and Dutch influences.
If you’re wondering if I ever got an upset stomach, the answer is no. I never specifically avoided anything in Kochi (for example, I never avoided ice). A few things to note: I think that I developed a strong stomach while traveling in China in 2010 and also during my first visit to Mexico in 2017. These days, I rarely experience symptoms of food poisoning, which I assume is a result of adventurous eating across six continents. I was also told by one friend that there’s a reason it’s called ‘Delhi belly’: namely that food-related illnesses among foreigners is especially common in that particular city. I can’t yet confirm or deny.
As you might guess, Kochi has even more to offer than its food and restaurant scene. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my complete guide to the city designed specifically for readers venturing to India for the first time. Kochi is the perfect destination, and I explain why in that separate post. Thanks for reading, and bon appetit if you’re reading from Kochi or headed there soon!
This post was published on Oct 24, 2019