27 Best Food Chains In India
Going out to eat food is an experience in itself. Here is a list of some of the best food chains in India, some that originated in India and some that are massively popular in the west.
India is an ever-growing, expanding nation. The culinary industry is one of the fastest moving businesses in the world. The reason behind this is that, come what may, people will go out to eat. If they choose not to go out, they will order in for sure. This is one of the primary reasons why food chains in India also do exceptionally well. Several billion-dollar successful ventures can be credited to our nation.
Whether it’s Indian fast-food chains or foreign fast food companies in India, they all run very well. We all know about the top, extremely popular international fast-food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.
Let’s take a look at some of the most famous Indian fast-food chains.
Famous Food Chains In India – Indian Origin
‘Unity in diversity’ is an apt description of India as a country. India has an abundance of diversity in its languages, music, dance, festivals, and, most importantly, for us, cuisines. North Indian food is starkly different from food found in Southern and Eastern India.
Today, there are thousands of fast food and restaurant chains in India that have made use of this well. Here are some of the oldest ones of the chain restaurants in India.
You know how teenagers flock to Nando’s or Taco Bell these days and think they are ‘cool’. In the 90’s Nirula’s was the coolest thing you could ever imagine. Nirula’s is one of the oldest Indian fast-food chain, and it was widely popular, especially in the Delhi NCR region, when it first launched. Decades later, it is still popular for its hot chocolate fudge (HCF). Youngsters, seniors, little children alike – all are welcome at Nirula’s. It’s the kind of place that people went to in the evenings to get a Hot Chocolate Fudge with their friends or family.
However, that’s not all it is. This fast-food chain also serves burgers, pizzas, salads, and other savory foods. However, it is best known for its ice-cream sundaes and milkshakes. Its first outlet opened in Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, in the year 1977; however, it was founded under a different name in the year 1934.
Aside from remaining as only Nirula’s, they also branched out into Pegasus bars, as well as Nirula’s Potpourri – a restaurant different from the regular fast-food chain service. They also have separate, special takeaway spots and small ice-cream parlors scattered throughout the country. Nirula’s definitely is and will always be one of the top 10 fast-food chains in India.
One of the most popular places to go and have some mithai or a savory meal of the best fast foods in India, Bikanervala is a multi-cuisine restaurant and mithai shop. The Aggarwal brothers found it in 1950. The fast-food chain restaurants of Bikanervala serve North Indian, South Indian, Indian-Chinese, Indo-Italian, and even Continental cuisine.
Most Bikanervala outlets are multi-story buildings where the lowermost floor consists of the section for their delicious sweets made in pure ghee, dry takeaway savouries like samosas and kachoris while the upper floors are reserved for dine-in. This Indian food chain is ever-crowded, weekends and weekdays alike.
Aside from only eating in restaurants, Bikanervala also has other ventures. Bikano is their venture into the world of packaged foods – chips, sweets, ready-to-eat curry and dal masalas, etc. They also have the Bikano Chat Cafe to have chaat and Angan, which is another multi-cuisine restaurant by Bikanervala itself. They have some of the best fast food in India.
Haldiram’s is another Indian food chain similar to Bikanervala, possibly because it began in the city of Bikaner in the state of Rajasthan. This chain also specializes in mithais and namkeens (sweets and savory snacks). The company sells a wide range of packaged food items, including sweets in tins and boxes, packaged chips and other namkeens such as aloo bhujia, sev, navrattan mix, moong dal, peanuts, etc.
However, that is not all for it. Haldiram’s also packages and sells ready to eat meals that are super convenient for travelling. While it started decades before in Bikaner itself, the first Haldiram’s outlet in Delhi opened in 1982. You can even step into Haldiram’s restaurants to enjoy their different flavours, such as that of chaat, or Indianised Chinese, Italian, and Continental.
4. Sagar Ratna
Sagar Ratna is a South Indian fast-food chain in India, specifically in Northern India, that serves dosas, idlis, vadas, uttapams, and dahi vadas. Founder of Sagar Ratna, Jayaram Banan, at a tender age of 13, ran away to Mumbai from his home in Udupi, Karnataka. He had big dreams and no money.
When he moved to Delhi, authentic dosas were only available in big hotels at expensive rates. His vision to revolutionise this turned into a reality in 1986 when he opened his first dine-in in Defence Colony, Delhi. Since then, Sagar Ratna has expanded to different parts of the country, serving scrumptious South Indian food at comparably affordable rates.
5. Shiv Sagar
Shiv Sagar was founded in 1990 by Mr. N.T. Poojari with an aim to provide fresh, fast food. Shiv Sagar is a vegetarian restaurant chain and the pao bhaji and badshahi falooda are very popular. The first Shiv Sagar restaurant opened at Kemp’s corner in Mumbai. Now, this fast-food chain has expanded to Surat, Ahmedabad, Pune, Mangalore, and Delhi.
6. Sarvana Bhawan
As you enter Sarvana Bhavan and get a whiff of that heavenly smell of dosas, the feeling remains unparalleled. Founded by P. Rajagopal in 1981 in Chennai, Sarvana Bhavan excels in dosas, idlis, vadas and dry savory snacks. This restaurant chain is spread across the globe. The filter coffee, fluffy idlis and crisp dosas remain a hot favorite amongst the faithful customers since decades.
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Famous Food Chains In India – International
The 90s and 2000s were a fast evolving time for the food industry. The fast-food chains were expanding at lightning speed. Pizza and burger chains were cropping up at a new location quickly and making a mark. The Indian consumers welcomed all the International food chains with open arms. Let’s have a look at some famous international fast-food chains in India.
The 90s kids in India grew up with birthday parties at McDonald’s, happy meals, and the joyful squealing when Ronald McDonald entered the party. Founded in the 1940s by Maurice McDonald and Richard McDonald in California, USA, McDonald’s came to New Delhi, India in 1996. McDonald’s India was the first ever in the world to have a beef-free, pork-free menu.
Vegetarian options like McAloo Tikki, Pizza McPuff and McVeggie were added to the menu, keeping in mind the food habits of Indians. For non-vegetarians, lots of chicken and fish options are available. McDonald’s also serves a breakfast menu till 10 am at selected outlets with hotcakes, beverages, hash browns, McMuffin (burgers) in a vegetarian, chicken and egg option.
2. Domino’s Pizza
“30 minutes or free.” We all have shamelessly waited for the delivery agent to be late, so that the pizza order could be free. But they were always on time.
A concept unheard of before Dominos, piping hot fresh pizza being delivered to your doorstep, was a novel idea. Domino’s Pizza is an American pizza restaurant chain founded in 1960 by Tom Monaghan and James Monaghan.
When Domino’s came to India in 1996, there was a collective excitement about their cheesy pizzas and the delicious twisty-breads (which aren’t available anymore). There is no urban Indian household where a pizza box from Domino’s hasn’t been delivered.
3. Pizza Hut
In 1958, Dan Carney and Frank Carney founded Pizza Hut in Kansas, United States. Pizza Hut is an American food chain which has launched in the Indian market in 1996 with its first outlet in Bangalore (Bengaluru), Karnataka.
From a wide range of pizzas to creamy pastas and crisp garlic bread, Pizza Hut serves it all. Now, after more than two decades in India, Pizza Hut has over 400 outlets throughout the country, making it one of the topmost fast-food chains in India.
It’s finger lickin’ good! Fried chicken has no better address than a KFC. Colonel Sanders, the founder and face of the company, launched KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) in 1952. There are over 23,000 KFC outlets throughout the world. KFC first came to India in 1995, Bangalore.
KFC, India serves chicken popcorn, chicken tenders, chicken burgers, rice bowls, spicy chicken and, of course, the original secret recipe fried chicken. A lot of vegetarian options are also served, keeping in mind the Indian audience.
5. Taco Bell
Think Tex-Mex, think Taco Bell. Tacos, burritos, nachos and quesadillas are just a few delicious items on Taco Bell’s menu. Taco Bell is a relatively new entrant to the market with just 35 outlets throughout India.
Glen Bell, Founder, opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California, United States in the 1960s. It went public in 1970, with over 300 restaurants. By the time it was 1978, PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell from Glen Bell.
6. Burger King
What a whooper! Burger King was founded in 1953 by James McLamore, David Edgerton, William R. Jarvis and James Duncan Rae in Florida, USA. The burger chain entered India in 2014 and was welcomed at a large scale. No beef and no pork menus were designed to fit the Indian’s palates, with lots of vegetarian options, too.
Sub of the day brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it? Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck co-founded Subway in 1965, in Connecticut, United States. It entered the Indian market in 2001. Primarily serving submarine sandwiches, salads and wraps, Subway has set separate stations for vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches.
You can customize your sandwiches and salads according to your taste and preference. Tandoori chicken, paneer tikka, corn and peas, shammi kebab, chicken teriyaki are some of the common subs available at the fast-food chain.
Nando’s is a South African fast-food chain that specializes in chicken dishes and Peri-Peri sauces. This Peri-Peri sauce is made from an African bird’s-eye chilies. Nando’s was founded in 1987 and launched in India in 2010.
“One Grande Latte for ABC!”. Unless you were living under a rock, you would know how big a deal Starbucks was in India when it launched in 2012.
There were lines for several meters to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, only for the Barista to get our name wrong on the cup. This coffeehouse was founded by Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl in 1971 in the USA. Apart from coffee, Starbucks also serves some delectable desserts and dry, light savories.
10. Costa Coffee
A British origin coffee house, Costa Coffee, was founded in 1971 in London by two Brothers Bruno Costa and Sergio Costa. In India, as coffee houses were becoming THE place to ‘chill’, Costa Coffee entered the Indian market in 2005. Lattes, cappuccinos, milkshakes and coolers, along with light snacks, are served at Costa Coffee.
Dunking a doughnut in coffee, sound something right out of an 80s American sitcom. Doesn’t it? William Rosenberg, the man behind Dunkin Donuts, founded the company in 1950 in Massachusetts, United States.
It was launched in India in 2012. Dunkin’ serves doughnuts in many flavors like chocolate, caramel, plain, glazed, cream filled, custard filled and so many more. Dunkin’ Donuts (now rebranded as Dunkin’) also have burgers, bagels, coffee and other beverages on their menu.
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One-Dish Specific Food Chains In India
When we say ‘specific’ food chains, we are referring to food chains that specialize in vending a certain type of food. An excellent example of such a chain doing this, close to the food business, but not entirely since it’s a beverage brand, would be Keventers. This company sells a specific product, that is, milkshakes.
A fun fact about this brand is that the founder of Keventers was a Swedish man and his nephew, who lived in Aligarh and worked on a dairy farm. The two created this milkshake brand and launched it in the year 1925, making it one of India’s oldest beverage chains! Here are some of the one-dish specific Indian fast-food chains.
1. Wow! Momos
Here is a brand whose founders’ love for momos is visible right in its name! Yes, Wow! Momos was started by two young men in Calcutta who enjoyed going out and eating momos after their classes in college. The brand, as the name suggests, specializes in momos. From regular steamed chicken or vegetarian momos to Schezwan or pan-fried momos of cottage cheese, fish, prawns, etc., these outlets have all the kinds of momos that you may want to try.
Wow! Momo also has a sister brand launched fairly recently called Wow! China, which consists of live counters. Their latest addition to Chinese fast-food outlets in India has turned out to be a success as well.
2. Goli Vada Pav
Vada pav is one of the most popular foods that have come from Mumbai and then spread to the rest of the country. The ‘Indian burger’ consists of a fried ball of potato smushed in the middle of a pav, which is a form of bread resembling a miniature burger bun.
Vada pavs are typical street food that Gola Vada Pav took and revolutionized in the Indian context. The company is huge and has 300 outlets spread out over 100 cities, making it one of the top fast-food chains in India. Goli’s success as a fast-food chain in India has also allowed it to branch out into other food items such as rolls and French fries rather than merely sticking to vada pavs.
3. Karachi Bakery
Here is another Indian food chain, which is one of the oldest ones out there, and also holds historical significance. Karachi Bakery has helped to keep the story alive of Partition-related migrants in all the six decades that it has existed. The founder was a man who moved East of the border from Karachi to Hyderabad and opened up a bakery for soft cookies and delicious cakes.
The bakery is most famous for its fruit biscuits, nut biscuits, and Osmania biscuits. The fruit cookies come with candied fruits in them, and nut cookies come as cashew cookies, badam pista (almond pistachio) cookies, etc. While they may not sound so by name, Karachi Bakery is a bakery that people love all over India.
4. Roll ‘Em Up – Fast-Food Chains In India For Rolls
Rolls are one of the most accessible foods to order for a quick snack and even for a whole dinner. The Kolkata-style rolls are the Kathi rolls that are famously eaten and loved all over the country. These are rolls whose parathas are first fried with eggs, then stuffed with a filling of either chicken, potatoes, cottage cheese, or other choices.
They can be heavy, with their double egg and double filling options, which is perfect for a tasty lunch or dinner. On the other hand, rolls can be quite light and not too stuffing on the tummy as well. Capitalizing on this, here are two Indian fast-food chains in India specializing in the sale of Kathi rolls.
KaatiZone is a Bengaluru-based company that sells Kathi rolls. The idea behind creating this company was to replace the love for unhealthy but delicious food with the same tasting food, but which is much healthier. That is how KaatiZone came up.
They have all kinds of rolls that would appeal to all types of taste buds. The crafting of these rolls involved much thought and love going into it. It is one of the best healthy fast food brands in India.
Faasos was a Kolkata roll stand in Pune when it first started out the business of Indian food chains. Today, it is one of the biggest online chain restaurants in India. By online restaurant, we mean to say that while there is no Faasos dine-in experience available, the way to eat from here is to order via their app and wait for the food delivery to arrive at your doorstep.
From rolls, the brand built its way up to selling all sorts of foods. These include meals in a box, biryani, and even desserts. Other Kaathi/Roll specific brands like Khan Chacha, Nizam’s, RollsMania, RollsKing are spread throughout specific cities.
5. Barbeque Nation
Barbeque Nation is one of the most exciting restaurant chains in India. They follow a different concept of dining at a restaurant. There is a barbeque grill in the centre of the table. After you are comfortably seated and ready to eat, your server will bring you skewers of either vegetables or meat, or seafood, on skewers and place it for you on your grill.
You may then apply the dressing you’d like on your grilled food after selecting from the ones given to you. This is a great concept and a fun and exciting dining experience to have.
6. Vadilal Ice Cream
While ice cream is not exactly the most Indian food, that hasn’t stopped people from venturing into this business, anyway. Vadilal Gandhi and his family are the examples of such people. Vadilal Ice Cream is an Indian food chain of ice cream which is older than Independent India herself – by about four decades. At least, that’s when Vadilal as a brand came to be.
It began with a man called Vadilal Gandhi and a single machine operated by hand to make his Cassata ice cream with milk, ice, and salt. Little by little, by passing the business on to his children, the Vadilal Ice Cream brand grew in its numbers of ice creams produced.
It was in the year 1985 that the ice creams expanded beyond their home of Gujarat and were then nationwide. Vadilal is still the most trusted brand of ice cream in India. Today, it is even the parent brand for Flingo, Badabite, and Gourmet, among others.
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Chain Restaurants In India Under Specialty Restaurants Limited
Specialty Restaurants Limited is a company under Anjan Chatterjee, which owns various eateries and chain restaurants in India. Under this company are some of the best restaurant chains in India, such as –
1. Mainland China
A fine dining restaurant with delectable Chinese cuisine. This restaurant has 52 outlets by itself. Aside from this, the restaurant also has a separate undertaking called Asia Kitchen By Mainland China, consisting of an open kitchen and lively ambiance.
2. Oh! Calcutta
Here’s the best restaurant chain to find Bengali food outside West Bengal, with its curries and meats like nowhere else.
Being a bar, this is not much of a place to have an excellent meal. However, the flavorsome finger foods and ambience of the place makes up for it.
It is a restaurant offering Indian cuisine and a casual dining ambience.
5. Flame & Grill
Here’s a chain similar to that of Barbeque Nation, with grills on the table for kebabs, accompanied by a delectable buffet meal.
Out of the many that are part of this company that has restaurant chains in India, these are only five of them. All the restaurants under Specialty Restaurants Limited do exceptionally well and are must-visited.
Drink Up! – Food Chains In India For Beverages
Several brands do not necessarily specialize in food, but they are also chains in India. We are talking about beverage chains. This refers to places that specialize in selling beverages – coffee shops and teahouses are two such kinds of Indian chains.
Another type is milkshake companies, such as the one mentioned before, Keventers. Here are some of the chain restaurants in India that specialize in serving beverages.
1. Cafe Coffee Day
With the tagline, “a lot can happen over coffee,” Cafe Coffee Day has become one of the pioneers of coffee shops in India. The coffee shops are located in all the major areas of most cities and attract people of many age groups.
Cafe Coffee Day, or CCD as most youngsters know it, is the kind of place which is perfect for a variety of situations. It is a fantastic place to have a meeting, to go work with your laptop, to hang out with friends, and even for a date – all while sitting with a nice cup of coffee. This is not all.
CCD is the place that people look for even when they’re on the road traveling – there is an outlet on most highways in the country. However, coffee is not all they offer. They also have milkshakes, tea, and snack food items as well, such as sandwiches, samosas, cakes, muffins, cookies, etc.
2. Chai Point
Chai Point is a venture that has capitalized on one of India’s most highly consumed beverages – chai, or tea. Tea is something that has an entire portion of a day named for it, and even biscuits and cakes to go with it. Yes, we are talking about tea time in the evenings, with tea biscuits and tea cakes specifically meant to be had with your morning or evening cup of the very same tea.
Chai Point’s tagline, “India runs on chai..” is a perfectly apt description of what we have mentioned before. It is a successful chain that offers all the different variations of tea, such as masala tea, lemon tea, ginger tea, etc., as well as cold varieties, being iced tea.
Of course, Chai Point also sells samosas, buns, Maggi, and other little snacks that go perfectly with tea. They also have tea subscriptions for the morning as well as evening, where they deliver your brew to you right at tea time.
3. Indian Coffee House
Indian Coffee House, or ICH, is a restaurant chain in India which has about 400 outlets all over the country. ICH is an incredibly significant and well-known chain restaurant in India, and this is because of its historical significance related to British colonialism in India.
It first came up in then Madras (Chennai) and Calcutta (Kolkata), when Indians began to grow coffee under the British rule but were not allowed to consume it in the Britishers’ coffee houses.
They came up with ICH as an alternative, so that they could, too, drink the coffee that they grew. This coffee houses today are run by a group of co-operative societies, and even now narrate the story of British oppression on Indians.
4. Drunken Monkey
Drunken Monkey is an Indian food chain of beverages, smoothies in particular. With their brand ambassador being an animated Drunken Monkey, they encourage the concept of getting a “natural high” by drinking their delicious smoothies.
They have different sections of drinks, out of which to choose for yourself whichever you’d like to try. If you want to “get naturally high” like The Monkey, but don’t like smoothies, don’t worry! They have options available that’ll make you forget that you don’t like smoothies in the first place.
There’s a ‘Hot Menu’ with coffee and chocolate mixes, a ‘Pamper Yourself’ menu with the goodness of all things you love, a ‘Functional Menu’ with all the things your body loves, and an ‘Off The Tree’ menu – smoothies with fruits and veggies. Aside from this, Drunken Monkey also serves food good-to-go-with-smoothies – healthy, tasty sandwiches.
It is brilliant seeing how the potential for food businesses in a country as large as India is on the right track. In conclusion, these were some of the best food chains in India. However, this is not to say that these are all the food chains to exist in the country. There are hundreds more, and it would be unfair to assume that there aren’t. These food chains are the best ones out in India.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have answered a few interesting questions about food chains in India.
The famous and best food chains in India are:
- Sagar Ratna
- Shiv Sagar
- Sarvana Bhawan
Some of the best fast foods eaten in India are Maggi noodles, samosa, pani puri, pizza, sandwiches, vada pav and many more.
The most eaten food in India are:
- Aloo Tikki
Yes. Maggi noodles are junk food. It is made from refined wheat flour and is high in sodium content.