I knew better then to stop at Tiger Treats Resorts, a newly built dhaba along Rajasthan’s Highway 24 which connects Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur, but sometimes a weary traveler needs to eat. Too many red flags went shooting up my pole from the moment we pulled into the empty parking lot save for a tourist bus (not a good sign) so I’ll let my stupidity save you from overpaying for a marginal meal as I did.
The lack of private or tourist vehicles in the parking lot immediately told me the prices were either too high, the food was of bad taste, the portions were too small or it was a combination of all reasons. If a new dhaba were to open with smart pricing, large portions and great tasting food you can rest assured drivers from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir will spread the word with lightening authority.
Immediately inside the cavernous building is a snack section selling everything from chips to soda to packaged sweets as a one-last-chance-sale for easily duped tourists. Just beyond this section is the toilets A.K.A. the only bright spot of a stop at Tiger Treat Resorts. Neat and clean, and very spacious, this is what pulls in tourist buses yet it doesn’t justify what comes next. Moving from the front lobby toward the dining hall guests cannot help but pass through a gift shop stocked with the usual tourist schlock this side of the Ganges. For a dhaba stuck between one of North India’s most famous cities and one of North India’s most famous tiger reserves, the amount of “unique items which can only be found right here” was staggering. Even more staggering were the prices. And even more staggering than that? Tourists dressed in t-shirts, shorts and vecro closure sneakers were snapping up these ‘treasures’ as if they hadn’t just been trucked in overnight from Jaipur.
As expected, one look at the slick menu proved my first suspicion that the prices were entirely too high. If I were traveling alone I would have left at that moment of seeing roti being sold for Rs 40. But I wasn’t, and both of my traveling friends were hungry. We’d have to suffer through this with clenched teeth. Two of us decided on veg thali while the third ordered veg biryani and one Coke. Assuming we were at a dhaba run by self respecting Rajasthani gentlemen this meal would have cost no more than Rs 400. I priced the veg thali at Rs 125 each, the biryani at Rs 80 and the Coke at Rs 50. Alas, the total bill amounted to Rs 1098. I paid the bill but not before arguing that the price of Coke at Rs 100 was entirely too high when I can buy it chilled for Rs 27 at any market. And I may have thrown in that the spices were non-existent and portions only big enough for a small child to enjoy.
In the end I warn you not to patronize Tiger Treat Resorts unless you enjoy overpaying for the opportunity to eat marginal tasting Indian food in a stark hall with inadequate service at a place owned by non-locals. Instead try any handful of dhabas closer to Jaipur if you’re heading Northbound or wait just one hour more to reach your hotel near Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.
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