Even before I headed to Hampi, The Mango Tree was recommended by a few friends who had already been there. Even though there's no zomato app functional for the location, The Mango Tree was recommended on TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet as well. So I knew we just had to visit this place to know what the buzz is all about.
Apparently, The Mango Tree was situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River below a mango tree. Thus the name. Now even though it is shifted to the adjacent lane of Hampi Bazaar opposite Virupaksha Temple, the charm still remains. Even though it's just a few metres away from the river, it does not offer river view now. But the entire vibe is enough to cheer you up.
It's a little restaurant but is very crowded. Probably since it is so popular, all the foreign travellers and Indian tourists alike flock to this place. Also, it is situated in a very convenient location. Even though you have to walk a bit in the bylanes untill you find it, there are signboards all around. Also, asking people for directions help since almost everyone seems to know about the existence of this place.
The Mango Tree is unlike any traditional restaurant we find in the cities. It has mattress and cushions to rest and food is served on the raised platforms. Such a dream come true. I love having food in my bed, but alas mum never allows. But this place fulfilled my dream. Since this was the first restaurant I visited in Hampi, I did not realise that almost every decent restaurant has a similar setting.
The Mango Tree isn't made of any concrete structure. It is like a shack with colourful banners and paintings hung on the bamboo and straw walls and ceiling. There are raised marble planks where food is served. They also offer a chair-table setting where a number of wooden tables and benches are put up in the periphery. We were very excited about sitting on the floor and chose the mattresses instead. And it was so relaxing.
The Mango Tree boasts of great ambience and food. It is noisy, but it's not overpowering. You see people of all kinds having a nice time at The Mango Tree. The people seemed so friendly that they smiled every time you look around. Even though we were the noisier lot, no one seemed to mind. So we eventually had a nice time.
The food menu was vegetarian, but very diverse. They served egg and paneer though. We ordered a couple of items and everything was delivered so quickly. First up was egg masala with chapattis. Simple, but tasty. With mystifying aroma and basic South Indian curry flavour, with nicely boiled eggs and the right spice served with soft chapattis, this was a great indulgence.
The Mango Tree special thali was soon served. As expected, it was the basic South Indian vegetarian thali. Having lived in South India for almost two years now, I've eaten this a hundred times, and it was similar. Rice served with sambhar, curry, rasam, veggie, curd and papad. Also accompanying it was the iconic payssam - a special South Indian dessert made of vermicelli, milk and nuts. Undoubtedly, it was amazing. The thali was nothing special taste wise (at least for me, since I eat it so often), but if you haven't tried a South Indian thali, it'll be a great choice.
I also ordered a pizza. Freshly baked woodfire pizza with mushrooms and olives was served. It was medium sized, soft, with ample cheese that melted in every bite. It was so good, I decided to screw the diet and ate an extra slice.
We also ordered fruit salad. A bowl of nicely cut fresh fruits was served. The fruits in Hampi are fresh, sweet and juicer than what we get in the cities. We washed it down with banana milkshake and soft drinks.