They say that the Mylari Dosa in Mysuru is the softest dosa one can have. They are the softest dosas with a huge dollop of white butter on top. If you’ve eaten parathas for breakfast in dhabas in Punjab, you know that huge dollop of butter that gently melts on the warm paratha. Mylari dosas have something similar going for them. Butter makes everything yummy anyway, but the original Mylari dosas are so delicious that the butter elevates it to a whole new level, that will never make you like any other dosa you ever eat.
On my recent trip to Mysuru, I set out to look for the ‘original’ Mylari dosa. You can’t come all the way to Mysuru and not have one, can you? Mysuru is the birth place of the Mylari dosa, after all. My search brought me to a small but super crowded eatery in Nazarbad – the Original Vinayaka Mylari Hotel. It is a really small eatery with about six tables and just about five items on their menu. It is so cozy that you are sure to bump elbows with your neighbor when you eat. Moreover, your neighbor would likely be a complete stranger – a standard feature for solo travelers like me anyway.
I spent three days in Mysuru, roaming around, not understanding most of what I was being told. But ordering in a restaurant ain’t that hard, thankfully. Kannada does borrow quite some words from Hindi and Sanskrit so if you know either, you would most likely be able to figure out the gist of what is being said, though you may not be able to respond back in the same language. That apart, ordering at the Original Vinayaka Mylari will not be a challenge, you just say what you want to order and voila! There is no menu card.
The most popular dishes at the Original Vinayaka Mylari are the Mylari Dosa, Masala Dosa, and Idli, and of course, the filter coffee. They’re usually served with coconut chutney. Why do I keep saying ‘Original Vinayaka Mylari’? Because there’s copy cats out there, I am told. Hence, the ‘original’ Vinayaka Mylari. Don’t we have that everywhere! But moving forward, when I say Vinayaka Mylari, I mean the Old Original Vinayaka Mylari. The eatery can be a little hard to find, there’s a lot of impostors, there are a lot of fake signs, and Google Maps isn’t always your best friend in unknown territory. In the lane housing the Original Vinayaka Mylari, there are three more lanes that also claim to be the original Vinayaka Mylari. Goes without saying, I did get lost a few times. But like me, if you have made up your mind to find what you’ve set your heart on – the original Mylari dosa in this case, when you get the soft, buttery dosa coming your way, the struggle of finding the place and the stinking uncle who smells of something you can’t identify sitting next you is all forgiven. Nazarbad has narrow lanes and even smaller shops. Remember, you are looking for a green sign that reads ‘Old Original Hotel Vinayaka Mylari’ in red. Next to this eatery is the Giri Stationery Store, if that helps. Also, the Old Original Hotel Vinayaka Mylari is closed on Wednesdays.
Here’s the address of the place:
Old Original Hotel Vinayaka Mylari
Shop No. 79,
Next to Giri Stationery Store,
Nazarbad Main Road,
Near Nazarbad Police Station,
Doora, Mysore, Karnataka – 570010
It is about 2.7 km from the Mysore Palace. I would recommend walking down here, but if you must take a rickshaw or a cab. However, keep in mind, the lanes are narrow.
On a normal day, the Vinayaka Mylari sells about 200 idlis. If it is a weekend, this would go up to 300. From my experience, I discovered that dosas and idlis in Mysuru are served only with the creamy coconut chutney, there’s usually no sambar. I did ask around and apparently that’s how it is done there is what I was told. I am not complaining, I’ll have my dosas whatever way they are being served – so far as you don’t stuff it with weird stuff including cheese, noodles, maggi, paneer, manchurian, paneer butter masala, ice cream, mushrooms, capsicums, etc. Let my dosa be how it was meant to be. I won’t stop others from having it their way but this is how I like my dosas – simple, original, authentic. Back to the Mylari dosa, please.
The Old Original Hotel Vinayaka Mylari was established a long, long time ago, close to 90 years ago. Unlike other eateries, this one remains closed during the usual lunch hours – from 1:30 PM to 3 PM. The hotel is credited with being the original inventors of the Mysore Masala Dosa – the Mylari Dosa. The restaurant opens at 6:30 AM, is closed from 1:30 PM to 3 PM, then is open again till 9 PM. There is always a crowd outside the hotel of people waiting their turn to have their dosas and idlis. The earlier you arrive here, the better. By the time I reached, idlis were sold out, but I was there for the dosa, so technically, no harm, no foul. The recipe of the dosa, obviously, is a closely guarded secret. The eatery finds mentions in a lot of publications – BBC, NDTV, Deccan Herald, and many more. It also has very high ratings on Zomato, Swiggy, TripAdvisor.
So, what is unique about this Mylari Dosa?
The dosas are folded in half and served with a dollop of butter on top, with a side of coconut chutney. The dosas are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and they will, I assure you, melt in your mouth. They’re so delicious that I had 3 dosas in a go. And 4 filter coffees. The time I took to eat that much did invite uncomfortable stares from waiting people, but well, we are women, staring is, unfortunately, a usual hazard women encounter on a daily basis, and we’ve learnt to ignore it & zone out. You have those delicious dosas in front of you, you won’t even remember who you are. I was told (or rather what I figured out from what I was being told) was that the hotel does all its cooking on a wood fire. Now, from my experience, I can tell you for sure that things cooked n a wood fire taste quite different and usually a lot more delicious, and that could be one factor contributing to the unique taste of the food in this place. You will catch hints of that smokey flavor in the food here for sure.
You come to the Old Original Vinayaka Mylari for the heritage, the delicious dosas and idlis priced very, very pocket-friendly. There will be some waiting involved most likely so don’t come here in a rush. One should never have food in a rush anyway. If you’re like for a fancy smart place, you’ll be disappointed. But you’re having a slice of history, that makes it worth relishing. If you are in Mysore, I definitely suggest having at least one meal here, preferably the breakfast. And remember the directions I mentioned for the place – originality matters.