Over the years, Delhi has been a transit stop on many of my journeys across India and elsewhere. I’ve had the opportunity of sampling all kinds of cuisine in Delhi ranging from street food in Old Delhi to the boutique cafés of hep Gurgaon. Yes, you sure want to eat good food when you come back from a backpacking trip or a gruelling trek in the mountains. I’ve firmly believed when we go out to eat – the quality and taste of food is what matters most. It can be the most beautiful place in the world, but if it can’t get the food right – then it won’t find a place on this list!
My Favourite Cafés & Restaurants in Delhi (In no particular order)
Lavaash by Saby
Tucked in a corner of Mehrauli, Lavaash by Saby is located in a plush white compound with oodles of open space. Lavaash by Saby is on the first floor and has both indoor and outdoor seating. The interiors are done in a pleasing shade of yellow and blue and are perfect for summers while the open air sitting area surrounded by greenery is minimalistic in white and makes for a cosy place to savour the delightful sun on winter afternoons. The music is slow and nice and I’d recommend to come to Lavaash by Saby to actually spend time here!
Food at Lavaash by Saby is a delightful mix of authentic Armenian with a twist of Bengali. Armenia has the distinction of discovering the tandoor (toner in Armenian). The cocktail that I tried was a mix of Mahua Mehul made with mahua flower berries mixed with gin and a hint of basil. It was served in a small bucket and was really potent and tasty. We’d ordered two dishes and both turned out to be unique and good. The Ponchiki pastry for dessert was my favourite memory of that day – it is an Armenian version of filled doughnuts pastry cream. As you walk out, the ethereal sight of Qutub Minar brings you back to reality.
Verdict : Perfect for dates; a little overpriced considering the quantity.
Triveni Terrace Café
I first heard about Triveni Terrace from some Uttarakhandis who told me that this café was the best place to eat their food in Delhi! Triveni Terrace Café is located opposite the FICCI auditorium and is a part of the Triveni Kala Sangam that is an art centre (for music, plays, dance). This quaint space is always busy with creative people and another place where the food takes the onus. The decor is minimalist with cast iron chairs set in a petite space.
I’ve eaten at Triveni Terrace Café at least 6 times and each time has been memorable. The charm of Triveni Terrace Café has been its simplicity and the wholesome food; and the staff is from Uttarakhand (brownie points for mountain people!). Among the all time favourites here are Sabudana Khichdi, Palak Patta Chaat, Gunpowder Ragi Idli, Cold Coffee and their daily special thali – on a special menu which differs everyday.
Verdict : When you are hungry and want calm with epic food, go to Triveni Terrace Café.
Café Di Ghent
For starters there are two Di Ghent places – one is the Di Ghent Boulangerie and one is the Di Ghent Café. I visited both and while the café food was good as well; my express recommendation is majorly for the boulangerie. Both the Di Ghent’s are located in a mall in Gurgaon but once you are inside the Di Ghent Boulangerie – you might as well have been in Ghent, Belgium! (For those who are not aware – Ghent is a medieval city in Belgium.)
The boulangerie is a tiny space with only 4 tables and has the unmissable aroma of fresh bakes and coffee. It is a very warm setting and the bigger space of the café eatery is also nice for lovely winter afternoons. With names of dishes like Vossenhol, Dendermonde on the menu, you might think you need help with the Belgian! In fact, the entire menu’s dishes are Belgian names with proper descriptions in English. Their desserts and bakes are legendary.
Verdict : A little expensive, but hey you don’t take the money to the grave!
Away from the choc-a-bloc cafés and eateries of Hauz Khas Village, Cravity comes like a whiff of fresh air that you expect from your next door café. And it does fulfil all the promises and more! It is located in the chić Hauz Khas area and is littered with expats working away on their laptops while sipping hot chocolate. There is no rush at Cravity and it affords you all the time in the world.
Cravity is tiny; and at 6 tables in the gorgeously done little space with white interiors and French newspapers and photographs hanging on the walls lends a warm feel. I first started going to Cravity for their impeccable desserts – Prince of Chocolate, Decadence and Beurre Salé Au Chocolat and had the good fortune of tasting the best Hot Chocolate ever there.
When I’m in Delhi, this is one of my favourite places to work from. I especially love their Khao Suey, Asian style Udon Noodles and their freshly made thin crust pizzas – among other things. Next time you want to order a cake for someone’s birthday – order the Prince of Chocolate cake from Cravity; thank me later.
Verdict : Winner on all counts; & affordable too! Psst. Just pray that Cravity lasts forever.
Among my other recommended choices are Café Dori, Tamil Nadu Canteel and Karnataka Food Centre.
Chateau de Pondichéry
A glorious mix of Tamil and French cuisine, Chateau de Pondichéry is located in the nondescript area of Adchini but boasts of incredibly beautiful interiors. The lighting and decor compliments the white walls; and also the small knick-knacks lend Chateau de Pondichéry a very warm and homely feel. It is a nice and cosy place perfect for lazy evening dates; with room and plenty of space for conversations.
The owners are always around and I recommend asking for their opinions on the dishes that you want to order. The sambar rice and a different variety of dosai was very well made and served in a nice, innovative style. Another plus point of dining at Chateau de Pondichéry is that it is quite affordable. Digital workers might like this place as a relaxed place to work with comfortable interiors and nice lighting.
Verdict : Perfect for a third or fourth date or eating out with friends.
Lodi – The Garden Restaurant
Lodi does things with nonchalance and understated elegance; but there’s no denying the charm of this iconic restaurant. It is spread in plenty of space in a garden with canopies and lovely tables. The whole setting shouts ‘romance’ with a capital R and if you are in Delhi, then this is the place to go for your first date. Lodi never disappoints and while I recommend winter afternoons for intimate lunches; my mind wants to equally suggest cozy dinners with the gorgeous overhead red lights.
The food is mostly a mix of Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes; and while it is on the pricier side – it is well worth it. The quantities are enormous and 2 dishes will suffice for 2 people. My favourite dishes have been the couscous, paella primavera and the vegetarian platter while the banoffee pie is sinfully good. Lunch / Dinner for two will cost approx. INR 2500.
Verdict : Find that special someone and you know where to go on your first date!
In Delhi, the different State Government canteens are the most recommended places to sample regional cuisines and the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan Canteen is the most famous of them all! And for good reason too; the long queues outside Andhra Bhavan are regulars and swear by this eatery’s Sunday Special Hyderabadi Dum Chicken Biryani. Vegetarians need not fret as their South Indian vegetarian thali has a dazzling array of authentic fare including sweets, veggies, lentils, puri and rice.
Andhra Bhavan doesn’t pretend to be a fine dine restaurant and food is the only focus here. It is affordable for the same reason and the original purpose of all State Bhavan Canteens was to cater to the state government officers. I recommend coming around 1145 am on Sunday to avoid the crowds and eat heartily before the food runs out!
Verdict : The hustle and bustle is worth it; South style!
The most recommended go-to place for South Indian food and Saravana Bhavan is a clear winner. There are queues at any time of the day or year, outside all the branches of this popular eatery across Delhi. Waiting usually doesn’t take more than a few minutes and once the food makes its way to your mouth, its all worth it! Have eaten here mutiple times and Saravana Bhavan has always been consistent.
Their ghee roast dosai, other dosai, rava onion dosai, variety of rice, uttapam are excellent. I also tried their vegetarian thali and that was out of the world delicious. Highly recommend Saravana Bhavan’s mini tiffin and quick lunch for basic and homely south Indian food. Psst. If anyone hasn’t told you how yummy South Indian desserts are; now’s your chance to try them out!
Verdict : A tad expensive, but still remains the top choice for South Indian food in Delhi.
Drums of Heaven
The more I eat at Drums of Heaven; the more I want to keep the name of this not-so-famous eatery to myself! Located in Green Park area, close to Hauz Khas ‘Drums of Heaven’ is a fine dine eatery serving authentic Chinese with beautiful warm interiors. It is almost a blissful experience to savour fine lunch here as its almost always sparsely crowded during the day.
Drums of Heaven boasts of a large menu and has a great variety of dishes for both the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians. From playing lovely music complimenting the decor to the dimsums, I have not tired of eating here even after a dozen times! Dining at Drums of Heaven is affordable in the sea of overpriced Chinese restaurants. I’d recommend to go here for a no expectations, very happy after-effect!
Verdict : My go-to place for authentic Chinese food in Delhi!
Located within the Crafts Museum near Pragati Maidan, Café Lota feels like an upgraded version of Triveni Terrace Café and has taken traditional Indian food to an entirely new level. In the age of offbeat; here the menu is really offbeat and unique regional dishes are the order of the day at Café Lota. Like Triveni Terrace Café, the staff is from Uttarakhand and are quite helpful in making you decide your chosen order.
Among the old favourites at Café Lota are Kumaoni Raita, Kokum Masala Soda, Appam, Bajre ka Chila, Ladakhi Bread, Kerala vegetable stew, Sattu parantha with chokha and a whole lot of other traditional preparations from across India – all prepared in the right manner. Café Lota errs on the costlier side and does not have the fine dine vibe; but if food is the only thing that matters then you are in the right place. Come early for dinner, Café Lota closes at 2130.
Verdict : Multiple visits a must, because we have a limited stomach!
Maharashtra Sadan (Bhavan)
After visiting 4-5 State Bhavans in Delhi, it was decided one day that we head to Maharashtra Bhavan for lunch. When one person has a craving for pooran poli; while another one speaks about mirchi ka thecha and the third one simultaneously dreams about jowari ki roti – then you know where you are going that day! Maharashtra Sadan is located near India Gate and is another State Bhavan Canteen with the primary job of serving the state officials.
Among the other popular bhavans; its a real surprise to eat at Maharashtra Sadan and realise that not many people know about this eatery. In that manner, it exceeds your expectations even though a mighty surprise awaited us to know that jowar flour was in short supply even at the state government canteen! Maharashtrian food lovers will like the sound of sol kadi, bharali wangi, pitla, amti and a multi-page menu full of local dishes. If you are confused, there’s an option of ordering the reasonably priced vegetarian thali for only INR 120.
Verdict : Must try once, and then get back on the Delhi/Bombay debate!
Coast Café describes itself as a casual dining place but let me tell you nothing about this classy eatery in Hauz Khas Village is just casual. From the regular diners here, to the sophisticated hushed tone conversations – this place reeks of class and the food only elevates the feeling to a higher level. Coast Café is a multi-level eatery located on the second and third floors of a boutique shop. It has a limited menu and serves classic Kerala Cuisine.
This chić café is effortless when it comes to elegant ambience and I recommend both lunch and dinner for an entirely different experience each time. The soft light during the day will result in instagram worthy photographs while cold winter evenings at Coast will be etched in your heart with the mulled wine for company. My favourites here are appam and malabar parotta with Mom’s aubergine Kokum curry and the simple Rainy Day Vegetable Stew.
Verdict : Possibly the most sophisticated place for Kerala food in the capital.
Kuremal Mohan Lal Kulfi Wale
As you meander the lanes of Old Delhi, no matter how full your tummy is – Kuremal Mohan Lal Kulfi Wale holds the deserved stop for dessert. This humble kulfi shop in Chawri Bazaar has been delighting food fanatics since forever and is regularly visited even by 60 year olds. The most popular flavours here are paan kulfi, anaar kulfi, faalsa kulfi, mango kulfi, jamun kulfi and fruit cream kulfi.
Since the fruits are seasonal, in summers they serve mango kulfi in a unique way – by presenting a full mango in which the insides have been scooped out and filled with delicious kulfi. In this age of instant gratification, the taste of kulfi at Kuremal Mohan Lal Kuremal Kulfi Wale will long linger in your memory until the insane crowds of Chandni Chowk & Chawri Bazaar come calling for your taste buds.
Verdict : They don’t make kulfi’s like this anymore. Come as often as you can!
The Tea Room
An old fashioned tea room in the heart of Hauz Khas Village is not what you might imagine in your wildest dreams! In the choice-a-bloc party lanes of HKV, the back lane near Naivedyam is quiet and The Tea Room is located in an unassuming space of the 2nd Floor of a famous Salon. The walls are tastefully done in rustic white while the interior decor has a very warm and homely feel, especially with the light music playing. The view from the windows is not bad either with the greenery of Deer Park on offer.
It is an unobtrusive space with a clear preference for calm. Tiny bells have been kept on the table to summon staff. The menu boasts of a classic English high tea for mellow evenings; and the scones are made to perfection. The crockery is high class bone china and I can imagine it was fine porcelain. The menu is detailed with a variety of teas, all day breakfasts and savouries, cold infusions, warm infusions, wellness concoctions, vegan smoothies, healthy juices.
Verdict : Forget time in the smog capital over brilliant scones and tea!
Yeti – The Himalayan Kitchen
My love for the Himalayas is an open secret and when some friends spoke about Yeti and added The Himalayan Kitchen, I didn’t need a second invitation to rush to this eatery. In crowded with pubs-and-bars Hauz Khas Village (HKV), the quiet ambience of Yeti comes like a breath of fresh air. The cuisine is a mix of food from different Himalayan regions like Bhutan & Nepal.
Over numerous visits, I’ve eaten here numerous times and my favourites are Thakali Thali (Nepal) and Ema Datchi & Mushroom Datchi (Bhutan). For those missing a taste of Ladakh, there is the Tibetan Yak Butter Tea and Thenthuk too on the menu! The prices are reasonable too if you compare them to HKV standards. I’d recommend to come during the day to let the soulful music transport you to the mountains!
Verdict : Himalayan lovers unite at this iconic Delhi eatery!
Soda Bottle Opener Wala, Khan Market
I studied college in Bombay and visiting the timeless Parsi eateries was our favourite experiences. The Brun Maska and Irani chai were staples and when SodaBottleOpenerWala came calling, we didn’t hesitate to go for lunch one day. The wry Parsi sense of humour is writ large in the interiors of this iconic Parsi eatery and makes it an instant mood changer.
The memories will come flooding back when you sink the spoon in the delicious apple pie and savour the kulfi straight from Parsi Dairy, you know life can wait today! But before the desserts, berry pulao and raspberry soda await – make it a lunch to remember. Khan Market is too crowded in the evenings and therefore I recommend lunch at SodaBottleOpenerWala.
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