[Update 1st June 2017:
Woke up this morning to the news that authorities have demolished Giani da Dhaba in order to widen roads. While the owners have promised to come back in their residence compound, looks like it will be a while before travellers can eat at Giani da Dhaba. The post below had been written in 2013, and if you are still curious about reading what Giani da Dhaba meant to people, read on…]
If you are driving up to Shimla or Kasuali in Himachal Pradesh and ask anyone the best place to eat in the picturesque highway, chances are that 99.99% of the people will recommend only one name – Giani Da Dhaba!
That Dharampur in Himachal Pradesh is FAMOUS for Giani Da Dhaba would be an under-statement! Not only is it preferred by tourists who’d like to stop before they proceed with their journey to Kasauli or Shimla, it is also the favourite haunt of locals who drive all the way from Chandigarh only for its famous butter chicken & drinks.
In case you are coming from Delhi via train, you are most likely to alight at Kalka station. From Chandigarh, Kalka is about an hour’s straight drive. 35 Kms from Kalka Station, you will hit Dharampur. It is from Dharampur that one road turns left towards Kasauli, a beautiful sleepy hill station in Himachal Pradesh. The main road leads up to Shimla where most tourist are headed.
It had been five years since my last Shimla trip. And more than anything else, I was looking forward to the ‘gluttonic’ stop-over at the famous dhaba. (Readers not used to the word ‘dhaba’ would have guessed by not that dhaba in India, is that highway stop-over for food, drinks and freshening up.)Chail, the beautiful hills, the weather could wait. Food, couldn’t.
I was surprised to find out that it is not the oldest dhaba there. The owner said Giani’s is just about 30-35 yrs. Well, I am older, I mulled. What a brand name at such an early age, I mulled further. Conspicuous by the number of cars parked by its side, Giani’s Dhaba, mind you, is NOT fine dining. On the contrary, it appeared to me that the highway stress has taken a toll on the men who run this place – both the owners and waiters looked grumpy, with absolutely no interest whatsoever to entertain you beyond serving you what you have ordered. Hmmm..talk about the monotony of repeated tasks and transient customer relationship.
The sight and smell of food broke my chain of thoughts. We had obviously ordered the MUSTS out here — Butter Chicken, Masala Chicken, Dal Fry, Jeera Aloo and Boondi Raita. But hey! The food was plain good. Was my expectations sky high? Or did it really didn’t live up to the hype? I have had better stuff at the many dhabas of Punjab & Chandigarh. And more authentic one at that. But yes, Giani’s is slightly cleaner than the other roadside joints whose open kitchens do little to increase your appetite or decrease your fear of an upset stomach.
Enjoy a chilled bear here and you will be set for the remaining 1 ½ hours drive down to Shimla or beyond. They have a fairly clean washroom as well. There is also a Baskin Robbins outlet right opposite and some ‘fruit wine’ shops from where you can pick up locally made drinks. A must stop as such, as you will not get anything better enroute.