First stop- K C Das on Church St. Ok stop screaming, I know those sweets are ridiculously priced. But here's the trick. Step in, sit yourself down and order a plate of luchis or motor kachuri with alurdom and yellow dal. Or maybe a couple of singaras, a rasgulla or three and some deliciously divine mishti doi. Slllurrrrp. When the surly waiter flings the bill at your face, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that you've only drummed up a bill of about 40 rupees or so! They also sell sweets per piece which work quite well with your budget. Those cashew/pista balls are dangerously priced at 17 bucks apiece though.
Tumble about 20m downhill from KC das and walk into Sheshamahal restaurant. This certainly has to be the pleasantest south indian restaurant for miles. Try their hearty bonda-soup in the evenings. Ok go crazy and throw in a maddur vade, some nippat-chakli and mangalore bajji and wash it all down with some filter coffee. Not more than 35 bucks, I assure you. Happiness joyness! Oh and do try their oota (lunch) section which is actually on the MG side, in a small lane beside Arya bhavan sweets.
Which brings me to Arya Bhavan sweets. Lovely, surly staff, and a variety of low-priced sweets and chaats to choose from. Try their speciality: Baby chaat kachori. A sort of edible flour basket filled with all manner of yummy things. Might burn a hole in your stomach, but not in your wallet. Ha ha. Manchi joku kaadhandi? Also try their excruciatingly sweet malai lassi. Lovely for a brilliant 23 minute sugarbuzz.
For some really great filter coffee, try India coffee depot, a small hole in the wall opposite Premier bookstore on Museum Road. The kindly gentleman there has a strange system. He'll take 5 rupees from you and hand you a doubled paper cup full of piping hot filter coffee. He'll then walk in, tear a coupon ceremoniously out of a book, rip it up into shreds and fling it out of the window, all the time smiling and making small talk as you finish your coffee.
Pani puri my loves? Try the chaat walla right around the corner from India coffee depot. Deeeelicious pani puri (sooji ke hain sir, ek dum mulaayam) for ten bucks, with a sookha poori (with channa, lemon and a magic chaat masala) thrown in for free. The best gabuk-gabuk-ten-rufis-thank-you place ever.
For round-the-clock cheap food, there's no place like Empire. A vast menu, immaculately dressed staff and many, many inebriated clubbers on a Saturday night. Try their shawarma rolls and dosa-chicken combos. Also their yum ghee rice, dal fry, kerala/ceylon parathas, chikken gebaabuh (kabab in Malabari-speak), lychee melba and much much more. Their Arabic restaurant upstairs is a little disappointing, but the food's not bad at all for the price.
For more inexpensive South Indian, try Kaycees down the road. Their lunch thalis, especially the Naarth Indian mini-meals, where you get to choose the gravy that accompanies your fluffy white kulchas, are really quite delicious.
Midway down MG road, it's been business as usual at the India Coffee House. For the past 4000 years. The grouchy waiters, also around the same age, have for some reason become uber polite these days. Gone are the days when they'd bite your head off if you dared to ask for a pepper shaker. They now stand around in an avuncular fashion, and even half salute when you tip them. While their cutlets, sandwiches, coffee and masala dosas are not bad at all, do not miss their slurpily yumptious scrambled eggs. They are arguably the best in Bangalore, and served on toast in VERY chipped china. Super value for money.
Walk down Brigade road and up rest house crescent (or Pecos lane as it is more popularly known) and the first thing you hear is some super cool music from a green spiral staircase. That, my dear friends, is the infamous Pecos - Brigade road's best kept... err non-secret. Step in, and well, step out, if you don't get it. But if you do, welcome to what was once my world. Beautiful (sob sob) music, cheap beer that on a good day tastes like Rosy chechi's dishwater, natural airconditioning (I'm not kidding. Sit by the window that overlooks Pick 'n' Move), a sav crowd and surprisingly affordable food. Try their tacos and sausage steamed rice with your dishwater. Slurp.
A little past Pecos on the left, is the infamous Dubai Plaza that houses the lovely 'Taste of Tibet'. A smash hit with the college crowd, here's where you can gorge on momos, phingsha, tingmo, thupka and all manner of unpronounceable Tibetan things for very little money. You'll soon learn to love the slow motion movements of the staff, the lovely tomato relish and the tinkly Tibetan music that comes free with every meal!
How can I end any food story without a mention of my favourite eatery (mostly for non food related reasons) - Nilgiri's. Walk into the newly refurbished cakeshop and help yourself to puffs, pastries and all manner of yummy things for well under 20 bucks. They now even have pre-packaged dosa-chutney, poori-and-potato sort of deals that you have to zap in the microwave before you eat, which quite frankly look rather yucky. What you might want to check out is their 10-paise-per-gram lunch buffet, where an endearingly grouchy attendant spoons out as much rice, gravy and curry as you want into a plate and charges you by weight. Fascinating, and quite flattering when you notice she's written your weight down as 188 grams.
And that, I think, (besides Ullas refreshments, Brindavan Wotel and the noodle person on Dickenson Rd), brings my cheap and best MG road eateries story to a close. Other places, stories of unimaginable illnesses from eating at said places, anecdotes and observations most welcome!