Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
Simple sidewalk sweetery sizzling up Delhi’s best jalebis (circular swirls of deep-fried batter drenched in sugary syrup); plump, crunchy, sticky, and wickedly sweet. Century-old institution attracting people of all stripes, from shoe-shiners and street-sweepers to IT tycoons and Bollywood stars. 1795 Dariba Corner (corner Chandni Chowk and Dariba Kalan Rd), Old Delhi.
Paratha Wali Gali
“The fried parathas [Indian-style flat bread] with pickle and yogurt are a glorious, guilty pleasure. Fabulously flaky, sinfully oily, flavored with everything from cashews to potatoes.”—Christopher Kremmer, author, Inhaling The Mahatma. Narrow, bustling lane lined with paratha eateries; raw, earthy atmosphere. Paratha Wali Gali, off Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi.
“The burra kebab [clay-oven-cooked mutton] dissolves in your mouth and the feather-light romali roti [paper-thin Indian-style bread] is perfect for mopping up India’s richest gravies.”—Christopher Kremmer. Superb Mughlai cuisine; predominantly meat-based. Tip: Save room for the kheer (rice pudding). Gali Kababian (near Jama Masjid), Old Delhi; tel. 91 11 2326 9880. www.karimhoteldelhi.com/restaurants.html
Popular downtown restaurant with a loyal following of mainly middle-class Delhiites who come here for the consistently reliable North Indian food. Admirable selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian dishes as well as Western choices. Praiseworthy paneer (soft unfermented cheese) creations. 7 Regal Building, Connaught Place; tel. 91 11 2374 2352. www.kwalitygroup.com/
“Dosa addicts will thrill to the outlandish wafer thin rice-flour crepes stuffed with spicy potato and other yummies.”—Christopher Kremmer. Downtown Delhi’s most popular South Indian vegetarian restaurant; arrive early to avoid lines. Also serves sensational thalis (curries served on stainless steel plate-and-bowl sets). 46 Janpath, Connaught Place; tel. 91 11 2331 7755. www.saravanabhavan.com
“The best place in Delhi for fresh stews, fish, and appams [rice pancakes].”—Avtar Singh, editor, Time Out Delhi. Multi-level family-oriented restaurant that gets kudos for South Indian specialties (particularly seafood); scrumptious Chettinad and Mangalorean options. Comfortable, if somewhat staid, decor. Busy, especially weekends. 14 Defence Colony Market; tel. 91 11 2433 0930.
United Coffee House
“Delicious masala omelets for breakfast with fresh coffee brought in a French press. The Art Deco backdrop takes you back 50 years.”—Janaki Bahadur Kremmer, contributor, Outlook. Extensive menu with Indian, Western and Chinese possibilities. Convivial ambience, amiable staff. E-15, Connaught Place; tel. 91 11 2373 1697.
Top-notch North Indian food with a Kashmiri and Mughlai focus; robust curries and succulent kebabs served by courteous waiters. Very imaginatively decorated—one table is a converted four-poster bed. Reservations recommended, especially on weekends. Hotel Broadway, 4/15A Asaf Ali Road; tel. 91 11 2327 3821. www.chorbizarrerestaurant.com/newsite/index_india.html
“The baked crab washed down with a cold Kingfisher beer transports you to the quiet Keralan backwaters [rivers, canals, and lagoons of tropical Kerala state] where time stops, if only for a moment!”—Janaki Bahadur Kremmer. Seafood specialty restaurant; non-seafood Indian and Western dishes also available. 13 Main Market, Lodhi Colony; tel. 91 11 2463 4666.
Punjabi By Nature
“Heavy, creamy generous helpings of kebabs and buttery rotis [Indian-style flat bread] hits the spot after a hard day.”—Janaki Bahadur Kremmer. Traditional Punjabi dishes as well as modern recipes such as tandoori (clay-oven-cooked) broccoli. Cosmopolitan setting, affluent clientele. 11 Basant Lok, Vasant Vihar; tel. 91 11 4151 6666. www.punjabibynature.in
Welcoming and minimalist; Japanese chef prepares fresh, authentic dishes, well-presented and full of subtle flavors. The sushi and sashimi are a treat and the baked salmon is also a winner. Dinner reservations recommended. D-8, Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar; tel. 91 11 2615 4082.
Glamorous North Indian restaurant with suave, warm interior featuring pietra dura (marble inlay work) tables and mirrored walls. Hearty northern curries and tandoori (clay-oven-cooked) dishes with innovative twists, such as the “lamb stuffed chicken” and “crispy okra.” H-27 Outer Circle, Connaught Place; tel. 91 11 4151 3535.
Award-winning, five-star hotel restaurant serving North-West Frontier food; delectable tandoori (clay-oven-cooked) kebabs and rich dhal (curried lentils). Rustic woody interior. Magnet for celebrities—star diners have included Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mick Jagger. ITC Maurya, Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Marg; tel. 91 11 2611 2233. www.itcwelcomgroup.in
“A dessert idyll. The stars of the lunch buffet are the fresh fruit sorbets, while the melting chocolate off the a la carte menu is a bit of gooey heaven.”—Avtar Singh. Highly regarded, authentic Northern Italian restaurant. Hyatt Regency, Bhikaiji Cama Place, Ring Rd.; tel. 91 11 6677 1310. www.delhi.regency.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp
The Spice Route
“First-date beautiful. The Kerala dishes are all spot-on, including the Malabar meen curry.”—Avtar Singh. Gorgeous plush interior with carved wooden pillars. Southeast-Asian cuisine with focus on Thai food but also serving some Indonesian, Keralan, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Sri Lankan dishes. The Imperial, Janpath, Connaught Place; tel. 91 11 2334 1234. www.theimperialindia.com
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