Hidden Gems of Little India

Think Little India is just Tekka Market and Mustafa? Think again!


A kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells, Little India is a place like no other you’ll find in Singapore. Head to Serangoon Road and you’ll come across streets lined with flower shops, Indian sweets, gold jewellery, and the very famous Mustafa Centre. 

It’s the area to go for authentic Indian food, to explore heritage sites such as temples, and to find out the history of the Indian migrants who first came to this island. 

But, that’s not all! We’ve walked the colourful inner lanes to find you the hidden gems of Little India. 

1. Meatsmith

Meatsmith Little India is American barbecue from the south, with an accent of Indian flavour. With its colourful façade and street artwork, think Meatsmith, think southern hospitality, think backstreets of Delhi.

The kitchen is helmed by Chef Andrew Baldus who has created a masterful menu combining the technique of slow cooking and barbecue, using wood and fire to grill, smoke, char, roast and burn the best ingredients from the local Tekka market and around the world. As far as signature dishes go, think of the Meatsmith stuffed suckling pig cooked on the spit, smoked chicken, and beef ribs with an Indian accent. 

Address: 21 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209894

2. Rogue Trader

But wait... Wander up a side entrance of Meatsmith and you’ll find a little bar known as ‘Rogue Trader’. With a colonial India ascent, this sophisticated gem will be welcoming to thirsty travellers and restaurant patrons. Think tea time and tonics, think adventure tales and spice trade; embracing the ingredients readily available in the area.

Address: Level 2, 21 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209894

3. Peace Cafe

Peace Cafe is located in Dalhousie Lane at the start of Little India historic conservation area. The street is named after Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor General of India who visited Singapore in 1850. It’s a cosy little cafe serving healthy vegetarian and vegan food. 

The menu features pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and pasta. Gluten-free options are also available. Peace Cafe has come to be especially known for its pizzas with dairy or vegan cheese. There’s even a Pontian pizza, which has pineapple, banana, tofu and vegan cheese on a spicy sambal base. Vietnamese wraps with rice paper and served with a spicy peanut sauce are also a popular choice. Dessert specials are eggless red velvet cake, brownies, chocolate lava, cupcakes including vegan and gluten-free choices. The cafe also makes full eggless and vegan cakes such as Cashew Cheesecake, banana walnut loaves, and fruit loaves on order. 

Address: 4 Dalhousie Lane, Singapore 209673 

4. The Great Madras

On the little red dot, in Little India, sits a little great hotel. The Great Madras is small in size, just 34 rooms, but it is great on attitude, personality, and service. Most of all, it gives you a sense of adventure with its insta-worthy decor, neon signs and inspirational quotes littered on walls all over the hotel such as “Do Epic Shit”.

The hotel also has its own retro barber in the lobby that can help you look as sharp as a tack with a good ol’ gentleman’s haircut. There’s a bistro that serves up some tasty Halal food, where you can kick back, relax and lounge around. Not forgetting, a modest swimming pool.

Address: 28 Madras St, Singapore 208422

5. Chimichanga

Inspired by the Cantinas of Mexico, rudimentary bars with a few tables and chairs, the Cantina’s golden age was in the 1940s and 50s, a time when no Mexican film seemed complete without the hero drowning his sorrows sipping mezcal shots. Located in the heart of Little India, Chimichanga serves up affordable and hearty Mexican fare with a quirky vibe over colourful tablecloths and classic enamel serveware. 

While chimichangas are their speciality, their Borracho Fish Tacos and Chipotle Chicken Burrito are worth a try too. Check out their $2 Oyster Mondays, daily $10 lunch deals as well as 2-for-1 Margaritas every Monday. The bar even serves beers from Singapore’s own Craft Beer Brewery, Rye & Pint. What’s more? Chimichanga has no Service Charge nor GST.

Address: 36 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209364

6. The Wired Monkey 

The Wired Monkey is a speciality coffeehouse that customises their own coffee blend. Think of coffee with flavours that are fruity and juicy from Honduras; sweet and light-bodied flavours from the tropics of Costa Rica; or the chocolatey, nutty notes from the land of Brazil. Not into coffee? The Wired Monkey has tied-up with Infusion-De-Vie to serve organic herbal teas. Pastries, muffins and croissants are also baked fresh in-house every morning.

Step inside the coffeehouse and you’ll be greeted by a unique elevated seating arrangement made to maximise the space in the narrow passageway. A German theme unifies the decor with its bulleted walls and funky graffiti wall painted by Clogtwo inspired by the Berlin Wall. Free wifi and extra sockets make it a place friendly for entrepreneurs, backpackers and tourists.

Address: 5 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209335

7. The Malayan Council

The Malayan Council was founded in August 2015 serving western food with a traditional Malay twist for every generation. Located within the oldest street in Singapore at 22 Dunlop Street, the halal restaurant is steadily growing.

The best-selling dish is definitely the Smoke Duck Lemak chilli padi - linguine pasta tossed with mushroom, cherry tomatoes in a lemak chilli padi sauce with the generous portion of smoked duck. Other best-sellers are the Roti Kirai Beef Rib and Ondeh-Ondeh Cake.

Address: 22 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209350

8. Sideways

Sideways is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant which boasts a wood-fire brick oven forged by the hands of owner and serial entrepreneur, Pav Khialani and his partner Giulia Cian Seren - the people behind The Hangar. Be spoilt for choice with ingenious takes on comfort Mediterranean dishes like garlic shrimps, Spanish pork belly and bone marrow as well as Mediterranean inspired dishes like the Talagani with figs, cheesy roasted artichokes and grass fed rib-eye steak. 

Sideways also offers a rotating selection of five crafts beers sourced from Germany, Australia, the US and the UK, pulled from a custom-made tap system for those looking to knock back a couple of cold ones. In fact, in Australia, to get sideways refers to one getting tipsy!

Address: 109 Rowell Road, Singapore 208033

Aditi Kashyap

13 Aug 2018, 10:00 AM

Aditi is the Associate Editor at Vanilla Luxury. She loves to travel and has an obsession with rooftop bars and chasing sunsets. Follow her adventures on Instagram @heydeets.