Kerala-Tamil Nadu - West coast- Food Drive


Drive to eat
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I was planning for a vacation and a drive along the coast came to my mind, I wanted to do this from a long time. My friends Praveen and Alan were my company. We know each other from school days at least 25 years now and we are all foodies. We decided that we will go on a food drive. The agenda was to drive along the coast, taste the local delicacies in popular food joints on our way. So we called this a “Food Drive” O:)

The plan was to cover the coast of Kerala via NH66 from Kannur in the north till Kanyakumari and to come back on Highway 44 from Kanyakumari to Bengaluru.

We conceived the plan to accommodate our Christmas vacations. From the evening of 22nd Dec 2017 to 26th Dec 2017 night. How much fun it would be to drive in the cold weather eating delicious food during Christmas on the coast. Our ride was my 2012 Hyundai i20 CRDI sportz. We were anxious and waiting to start.
We started preparing, applied leaves packed our bags, got my car checked and we were all set to go. :supz:

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I am waiting to share our experience :tonqe: .


Drive to eat
Dec 22 2017, started at 19:30.
Drive Summary:

  • Bengaluru to Gonikoppa – 220Km – 4.5 hours- Good roads – Heavy Traffic
We all gathered at my home and we started at 7:30pm from Bangalore Heading to Gonikoppa via Mysore. As expected, because of the long weekend there was lots of traffic on the Bengaluru –Mysuru highway. A very well known busy highway with lots of eateries and petrol stations all along the way till Mysuru.

The food drive had begun the engine was revving and we were hungry.O:) our first stop for the long trip was for dinner at Maddur.

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Food Summary :
  • Dinner – Empire restaurant – Near Maddur- Mysore road
  • Dishes tried - Coin Parotas with Brain fry, Pepper Chicken and Mint Lime Soda
  • Cost for dinner – Rs 1300
The Empire restaurant, the restaurant is not new to us. We know what to order. We ordered and enjoyed awesome Coin Parotas with Brain fry, pepper chicken and Pudina (mint) Lime Soda. We were a long way from our destination. It was already 10.30 by the time we finished our dinner. Alan drove for the rest of the night and Reached Gonikoppa at 1:15am.

Once we take the deviation to Coorg from the Bengaluru-Mysuru hghway, the highway has fewer petrol stations and restaurants but the roads are good and we can cover 50Km/hr on a normal day. Since we were travelling in the night and we had cross a small patch of Rajiv Gandhi national park we thought we can spot some wildlife, but we did not see any :cry:. Nevertheless we spotted a Tiger on a bike :lol: LOL.

We stayed at SPICE RACK (The Coccon) hotel, Gonikoppa. The hotel is relatively new with descent size room and it was neat and clean. Of course there are numerous stay option in Coorg if you are looking for homestays but we had less time to sleep as we had to start early in the morning to continue the journey so we choose this hotel which is on the highway. The hotel also has a restaurant.

Dec 23 2017, started at 8:00
Drive Summary:
  • Gonikoppal to Kannur – 92 Km 2.5 hours – narrow roads, road under construction, normal traffic
  • Kannur to Kozhikode – 90 Km 2.5 hours- narrow roads, normal traffic
  • Kozhikode - Kunnamkulam – 100Km – 4 hours - narrow roads, heavy traffic (due to Christmas)

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We were woken up by the adjacent mosque at 5:00 am. We were all in full josh and started to Kannur at 8:00. Our plan was to have breakfast in Kannur. We had to drive through the narrow lanes in Coorg and cross ghat section and enter the Kerala. The distance is 90kms but due to the road construction going on and the traffic we needed 2.30mins to cover this distance. A total 2 and half hour drive through beautiful scenery and bad roads under construction. Crossing Iritty Bridge over the river, a real treat to watch.

Girls in dhavani, Guys in Vashti and Lungi, fresh air, greenery everywhere, hardly any building more than two floors, we were in Kerala on our destination for food :)

We reached Kannur at 10.30 and parked our car in Kannur railway station which in the heart of the town and walkable to the restaurants we wanted to try. Even otherwise I would suggest parking the car in the station is a good option and going around the town in a rickshaw is time saving and saves the hassle of trying to find parking spots in the narrow lanes of the old town and market.

We wanted to try Onakkan Bharathi restaurant, it's a old restaurant, with just about 8-10 tables and with the local crowd and serving local dishes. They serve dishes like Puttu, Kappa with various curries. No English speaking waiters. Learn a few words in Malayalam before going here and they do not have restrooms aswell.
We tried Puttu, Appam, Kappa, Mutton Chops and Chai. Our first stop in Kerala and It was just awesome :rolleyes:.

We also tried some snacks in MRA Bakery very near to the restaurant and railway station. Snacks at MRA Bakery - English Cake (a mini delight), Arabic Plum cake, Sweet Banana chips, a fish palaharam and Pazhlam Pori (Banana Bajji). We stocked a few snack items for the journey ahead. The Bakery also has a restaurant and a fast food counter. I am sure this would be a busy place if you visit for lunch or dinner.

After a heavy breakfast or rather brunch, we then had to continue our journey to Calicut. On the way to Calicut (Kozhikode) via Thalassery. It's a 90km drive but due to heavy traffic and narrow roads it takes 3 hours. We Reached Calicut at 15:30. A long but delightful drive as we reached the famous Paragon restaurant for lunch.

The restaurant has AC and non AC section but we had to wait for a long time to get a table and we had gone just in time before the lunch time closes. The restaurant is very busy lots of menu items to choose from we also saw a few foreigners dinning there. I felt the ambiance in the non-AC section was more lively. We ordered Mango Fish curry, it was lip smacking good.We also ordered the Malabar Biryani which is supposed to be the best in paragon. We tried the Chili beef and Praveen had ordered for a Special meals. The food was very good and satisfied the hungry soles. I would recommend this restaurant any day if you visit Kozhikode with friends and family alike.


We wanted to try the milk sarbat opposite paragon restaurant. Its only a shop and no seating area. We tried the milk sarbat , soda sarbat, and a plain sarbat. Milk sarbat tasted good, the others did not taste so special to us. The sarbat shop was crowded and if cleanliness is your priority, it's better you avoid.

We started from Calicut at 4.30. On the road from Calicut towards Trissur, the traffic on the road was heavy because it was Christmas weekend. We had to cross lots of jams and blockages on the way. The Google maps showed 4 hours and we were really tired by the time we had reached half way. I then asked my friend Boby who is from Kunnamkulam near Gurvayur, to help in finding accommodations in Gurvayur. So, Boby arranged for a stay in Kunnamkulam. which was obviously cheaper than staying in Gurvayur on a long weeked. We reached Kunnamkulam at 20:30 after a long trying drive. Alan was the worrier who fought the traffic, 3 cheers to him. In Kunnamkulam we met Boby and he helped us to find a hotel and check in. Hotel name - Lewa Towers, 950 for 3 people, non AC room. It was a low budget hotel but good enough for a trip like this.

Boby took us to a nearby bar where we ordered the BDF (Beef dry fry). That is 1 awesome dish to try along with some beer. It was lip smacking good :yawinkle:. We also tried beef in a Chinese style dish which was also good. We then visited a sheet vendor we tried Kappa beef curry and some Idiyappam . They were just too good. We enjoyed our dinner in a typical mallu style was super tasty, low budget and satisfying.

Food Summary
  • Breakfast – Kannur – Onnakan Bharathi & MVR bakery
  • Lunch – Kozhikode – Paragon restaurant & Milk Sarbat center
  • Dinner –Kunnamkulam- Street Food
  • Dishes tried - Puttu, Appam, Kappa, Mutton Chops, English Cake (a mini delight), Arabic Plum cake, Sweet Banana chips, fish palaharam, Pazhlam Pori (sweet Banana Bajji), Chai, The best Malabar Biryani, Chilli beef, mango fish curry, Paragon Special meals, milk sarbat , soda sarbat, and a plain sarbat, BDF (Beef dry fry), Kappa beef curry , Idiyappam.
  • Cost for breakfast – Rs 245, Lunch – Rs 650, Dinner – Rs 400


Drive to eat
Dec 24 2017, started at 8:30
Drive Summary:
  • Kunnamkulam via Guruvayur to Kochi – 100 Km 3 hours – Narrow roads, normal traffic- No toll
  • Kochi to Marai beach – 50 Km 1.5 hours- Good roads, normal traffic- No Tolls
We Started the day with lots of selfies and my friend Boby invited us for a breakfast at his home. It was a normal Malayali breakfast with Puttu and banana and sugar to make the sweet dish a little more sweeter. We were served tea and cake to end the breakfast. We also took a nice relaxing walk in Boby s farm and started our drive for the day towards Guruvayur at 9:30

We wanted to visit the Anakotta (Elephant camp) in Guruvayur. The visit to the elephant camp was good, there were about 30 elephants and all most all were tuskers. It was a pretty sight to see so many elephants taken care with all the elephants in good shape, neat and clean. It is a must visit place on the drive. It good that they do not allow camera or even taking photos from the Phone is prohibited. Kids will definitely enjoy this place. :heart:

We then moved on to visit the Guruvayur temple. The temple and the elephant camps are on either sides of the highway. We then drove for about an hour to reach another temple on the highway called the Kodungullar temple in the Kodungullar town which is on the way from Guruvayur towards Cochin.


After a 3 hour drive, our next stop was Mullapanthal Toddy Shop for lunch. We reached Ernakulam at 15:00. We had heard a lot about this place, it is not on the highway and we need to enter the by lanes to reach this place. It is a typical toddy shop with thatched roof, old furniture, busy kitchen, toddy on every table and lot of drunk people.:drinkers::rolleyes: I was surprised to see many families and collage going couples dining in this kind of a restaurant, they do have family rooms which can accommodate groups of 8-10.



We order Toddy which was served in an earthen pot, we then ordered a varieties of starters - Pork Roast, Kaka (Chippy) oyster fry, Beef Fry, Kari Meen, Nethali Karvade fry (dry fish). The food was delicious finger licking good and the toddy was the highlight. Service was quick and the rustic ambiance makes you high in no time. :partyman:LOL. I would have liked it better if they had served meals there. We had very few options for main course. Nevertheless a must visit place with friends and family if you visit Ernakulam.

We had a long sumptuous lunch and it was already 4.30. Our next destination was Alappuzha. About 90mins drive from Kochi. On the way to Kochi we noticed that we had a nice beach called Marari beach on Google maps. It was sunset time and we wanted to watch the sunset so we drove into the beach. We watched the beautiful sunset. The beach had many visitors, we had not heard about the beach but it the beach was good and it has good reviews on google aswell. The crowd was nice and there are many shacks on the bearch. Our plan was to check-in at Alappuzha but we were tired and did not want to leave this pleasant place. We tried to find an accommodation on the beach. We were lucky and found a beach house facing the beach, we did not go to Alappuzha that night and we were happy to stay at Marari Beach.:razz:

We spent the evening on the beach chatting and taking pictures and watching people enjoy. For dinner we went to a shack on the beach called Plam heaven. The heavy lunch had left no space for dinner in our stomach. We wanted to eat something light and we ordered a pineapple pan cake which was not great. We also ordered a pineapple carrot juice which was pretty good. We ordered couple of mint Lime juice soda and veg salad. A nice simple dinner to end the day.

Sitting on the beach and enjoying the sound of waves and looking at the clear sky with stars is what we miss in the cities. One wonderful and peaceful evening. And a great way to end the tiring day.

Food Summary :
  • Breakfast – Kunnamkulam – Friends Home
  • Lunch – Ernakulam – Mullapanthal Toddy Shop-
  • Dinner –Marari Beach – Beach shack
  • Dishes tried – Puttu with banana, Toddy, Pork Roast, Chippy fry (oyster), Beef Fry, Kari Meen (fish fry), Nethali Karvade fry (dry fish), pineapple carrot juice, Pineapple pan cake, vegetable salad, Lime soda.
  • Cost for breakfast – Rs 0, Lunch – Rs 950, Dinner – Rs 400


Dec 25-2017
Drive Summary:

  • Marai beach via Alappuzha to Trivamdrum – 160 Km 4.5 hours – Good roads, normal traffic- no tolls
  • Trivandrum to Kanyakumari – 100 Km 3 hours- Good roads, normal traffic- No tolls
  • Kanyakumari to Nagercoil – 20Km 30mins – Good roads
We had a early morning walk in the beach and We started from Marari beach at 8 am. Stopped for breakfast at Araayas which is just a couple of km from Marari Beach. Our breakfast was masala ghee roast, Plain dosa, special breakfast platter. Good filter Coffee and orange juice. A Nice neat and clean restaurant on the highway.


We drove towards Alappuzha and we couldn't spend time in Alappuzha as we had cover a lot of distance but the end of the day. We had to cover more than 200km to reach Kanyakumai for sunset at 18:00. On our way we came across a beach with a ship stuck in the sand near Eravipuram in Kollam.
On a hot sunny day, the people in local beach were having a gala time with loud music and dance. We had some fun too. We enjoyed and we were happy to see such a lovely crowd on Christmas. Obviously there was a crowd because of Christmas otherwise this would be a very silent beach. The main attraction was the ship which was stuck on the sand. Took a lot of pictures and rested for a while. The time was already 1 pm and we had a long 1.5 hour drive to Trivandrum and We were looking for a sumptuous lunch at Trivandrum.


We reached Trivandrum and we had marked a restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was Pulisherry Kada, but unfortunately the restaurant was closed and we had to go to another one nearby called Vayalil. But the meals there was not what we were expecting. Especially Praveen was not happy because he did not find Mor Kuzhambu. But we tried Chicken Tooran and some prawn fry. The prawn was good and I liked it. Again we couldn't spend much time in Trivandrum. We had to move on. Well our destination for the day was to reach Kanyakumai for sunset. We had to move quickly because the time was already 3.30pm. We had a 2 hour of drive in between us and sunset in Kanyakumai.

Praveen took over the steering and we headed south to the tip of India. The roads were not great until we cross Kerala and entered Tamil Nadu. The drive was not hectic, it was pleasant and scenic. The drive in TN was nice but we barely managed to reach Kanyakumai at 5.30pm.

We were just on time and there was a huge rush in Kanyakumai due to the holiday, lots of tourists and lot of traffic. Just walking to the sunset point took half an hour. And we just managed to get a glimpse of the sunset. Because there was a huge crowd taking proper photos of the sunset was not possible. Nevertheless we made it to our destination and we were happy. We also shopped a little. Toys for my son, fancy items and other sea shells for friends and family. There were lots of street vendors and lots of street food. We had a chance to try some local street food. We tried the local masala puri which was very different from the ones we have in Bengaluru. The chili bajji which was not different by any way and some boiled peanuts with masala.

We then had to book a room for our stay. Alan with the help of his cousins in Nagercoil booked a hotel by the name blue heaven in Nagercoil. A 30mins 15km drive to Nagercoil from kanyakumai. Alan knew the town, it was Christmas and we had to eat some cake. We went to a big bakery in Nagercoil called Cake world. We tasted some delicious cakes and pastries. They were not very different from what we get in good bakeries in Bengaluru but for a small town they were great.

Our next stop was Drizzle Bistro for dinner. We were now looking at a south Tamil Nadu cuisine. Alan suggested we had to the try parotas. And we tried Chicken Kuttu parota, Veechi parota, mutton stuffed parota and an Egg Masala. All the parotas were great. We ordered a couple of mint lime sodas and a juice. This completed our long day and we were exhausted. We had to sleep and get fresh for a long 750km journey from Nagercoil to Bengaluru. Our plan is to start early and reach home for dinner time.
Food Summary :
· Breakfast – Marari Beach – Aryaas Restaturant
· Lunch – Trivandrum – Vayalil Hotel
· Dinner – Nagercoil – Drizzle bistro
· Dishes tried – Masala ghee roast, Plain dosa, Special breakfast platter. Coffee and Orange juice. Meals, Chicken Tooran, Prawn fry, Chicken Kuttu parota, Veecha parota, Mutton stuffed parota. Egg Masala.
· Cost for breakfast – Rs 300, Lunch – Rs 500, Dinner – Rs 800

Dec 26th-2017
Drive Summary :

  • Nagercoil to Tirunelveli – 82 Km 1.5 hours – very Good roads, less traffic
  • Tirunelveli to Dindugul– 220 Km 3.5 hours- very Good roads, less traffic
  • Dindugul to Salem – 170Km 2.5 Hours – very Good roads, less traffic
  • Salem to Bengaluru – 200Km 4 hours- Very good roads, heavy traffic
  • Tolls all along the way – approx Rs 700 for toll.
As planned we had breakfast in Nagercoil, After breakfast we started from Nagercoil at 8.00 am. Our next stop was to taste the famous Tirunelveli halwa. About 90 mins drive. We reached Tirunelveli at 9.30 and tasted the famous Tirunelveli Halwa. Just awesome :tonqe:. Of course the Halwa from the famous Iruttu Kade is available only at 5.30pm, but we bought it from the Vishaka sweets which is owned by the Iruttu kadai. We also bought the sweets for friends and family back home.


We headed north on NH44 towards Dindigul. For the famous biryani in Dindigul from Thalappakatti restaurants in Dindigul. A 1.5 hour drive on the smooth highway We reached Dindigul at 12:00. We were a little early for lunch. So though we will order small portions. We tried 1/4 mutton biryani, and 1/2 chicken biryani and a mutton sukka. Well we liked the mutton biryani more than the chicken O:). The brunch was light and tasty. We would definitely make another trip to do a full meals at the Thalappakatti restaurant. Just to make more space for the actual lunch we ordered lime soda and headed towards Salem.:razz:

Another 2 hours journey and We reached Salem at 2.30pm, our next and last target for the food trip was Selvi mess. Lots of dishes to choose from. The main course anyway is only meals and biryani for lunch. We choose the meals. Meals was served with Mutton kurma, Chicken kurma, Fish curry and Raitha. We then ordered a few more items to accompany the meals. Mutton sukka, Chicken 555, Kaadai fry (Quail), Dove fry, Egg kalaki, Egg half boil. This was a yummy heavy midday meal :tonqe:. Wow is the only word for the taste in this restaurant. Need to come back another time for this awesome meals.:heart::tonqe:

We started from Salem towards Bengaluru at 3.30 pm. From Salem to Bengaluru was a long stretch with a small tea break near Atibele. We reached electronic city by 6.30pm. From there on via nice road to home .

Food Summary:
· Breakfast – Nagercoil – Hotel Aryabhavan & Tirunelveli – Halwa
· Brunch – Dindugul – Thalappakatti restaurant
· Lunch – Salem – Selvi Mess
· Dishes tried – Mutton biryani, Chicken biryani, Mutton Sukka, Mutton kurma, Chicken kurma, Ffish curry, Mutton sukka, Chicken 555, Kaadai fry (Quail), Dove fry, Egg Kalaki, Egg half boil.
Cost for breakfast – Rs 200, Brunch – Rs 630 , Lunch – Rs 1100

A wonderful food drive to Kerala and back home came to an end.

We had traveled 1700km,

4 days and 4 nights

across 3 states,

111 liters of diesel burnt - with avg mileage of 15Km/ltr

Rs 24000 spent

Awesome food, Beautiful destinations

3 friends with Priceless memories

Hope to do many more drives like this and share our experiences.