First-time visitors to Delhi are usually harangued about ticking the classics off their list: dal at Bukhara, chhole bhature in Bengali Market, or daulat ki chaat in Chandni Chowk—and justifiably so. These are all food legends, but the city has far more (and better) to offer. Here’s a more updated list of Delhi’s best restaurants, one that includes institutions like Andhra Bhavan as well as contemporary favourites such as Indian Accent and The Toddy Shop.
One of the perks of being in Delhi is having access to the canteens at its bhavans, the offices of state governments in the capital. Andhra Bhavan tops this list. The fuss-free cafeteria has stone tables, metal chairs, and is kept immaculately clean at all times. Their set breakfast of idli, vada, dosa, and filter coffee is particularly convenient and satisfying after a walk around India Gate in the early hours of the day. At lunch, they do vegetarian thalis with sides of prawn curry, chicken fry, and fish. Chicken biryani is the staple Sunday special.
1 Ashoka Road, Feroze Shah Road (011-23382031). Daily, 7.30-10.30am; noon-3pm; 7.30-10pm. Meal for two ₹300.
Only slightly larger than a hole-in-a-wall street stall, Bille di Hatti serves drool-worthy chhole, puri, and lassi that is leagues better than the oilier, spicier versions in Bengali Market. The food is so good it’s wiped clean by 2pm every day. To savour your meal in peace, get there at 7am when the place opens and the crowds are more manageable. Pro tip: Avoid Bille di Hatti if you’ve got a big day planned; the sweetened lassi along with the generous servings of puri and chhole, can make even early risers sleepy enough to want to crawl back into bed.
72-D Kamla Nagar Market (45537004). Daily, 7am-4pm. Meal for two: ₹150.
The lone wall adornment at the passage-like Bamboo Shoot Kitchen is a framed print of the Scoville scale, the unit used to measure the heat of chillis. It’s also an indicator of the spice levels of the food on the menu—a mix of Assamese, Naga, and Manipuri cuisine. The Assamese thali has generous portions of fish, chicken, pork, buff curry, dal, rice, aloo fry, and aloo pitika. Both the dry fried pork and buff are hangover-curing, especially with a tall glass of the restaurant’s homemade lemonade. The brave of heart (and gut) might try their Raja Chilli Chutney, made with the searing bhut jhulokia.
4/8 Gupta Market, Nirmal Colony, Block-6, Lajpat Nagar-IV (09560341088). Everyday, 1-11pm. Meal for two: ₹600.
A narrow, yellow front door—barely noticeable among the flashier restaurants in Defence Colony Market—hides the three-storey Bonne Bouche like a big secret. The first floor resembles a French bistro, the second is like a low-lit Delhi bar, and the third feels like a terrace café in Mediterranean Europe. Lunch is best at a sunny table on the first, where the kitchen dishes out pizzas (among the best in the city) and light salad lunches. It’s also one of the few places in Delhi fearless enough to have beef on its menu (they have a tenderloin burger). Bonne Bouche also has a delightful tea menu and a brief but impressive wine list featuring Argentinean, Spanish, French, and Australian varieties.
Shop 16, First floor, Defence Colony Market (011-41044779). Everyday, 11.30am-11.30pm. Meal for two: ₹1,800.
A leisurely meal at Café Lota is the perfect way to sound off a visit to the National Crafts Museum. The cheery café serves cuisine from across the country. There’s Kerala vegetable stew, makki ki roti and sarson ka saag, “Assamese black chicken”, even fish curry prepared Pondicherry-style. Flavours change with the seasons to keep the menu alive. The coconutty Kerala prawn curry for instance, is flavoured raw mango in the summer (and is particularly good). Café Lota is also a nice, quiet spot to begin the day. Pick from Bombay style egg bhurji with toast, masala omelette with Ladakhi-style bread, and ragi pancakes topped with banana, honey, and amaranth. A sincere coffee menu explains three varieties of beans, all from Karnataka, in terms of acidity and tasting notes.
National Crafts Museum, Bhairon Marg, Pragati Maidan (011-23371887). Tuesday to Sunday, 9am-5pm. Meal for two: ₹1,200.
The intensive research that has gone into crafting Carnatic Café’s all-vegetarian menu is evident. The line-up includes regional preparations such as ragi dosa, neer dosa, and ragi roti (farmer food in Karnataka) and seven rice preparations, one for each day of the week. Among them, wangi bath (rice with brinjal and spices, served with curd and dried red chilli) stands out. The Malleshwaram 18th Cross, a dosa named after a street in Bangalore, is another star seller. It’s fluffy, smeared with white butter and served with molgapodi on the side. Best accompanied by the filter coffee, which deserves the special attention it gets.
India Mall, Ground Floor, Community Centre, New Friends Colony (011-41008630). Greater Kailash-II, M-21, M Block Market (011-41708631). Daily, 9am-10.30pm. Meal for two: ₹550.
At Coast Café, contemporary appetisers like fried calamari, chicken wings, and tacos are pitted against traditional favourites such as prawn curry, Malabar paratha, appam, and fish moilee. Although the café’s strength lies in its coastal fare, the salads, especially the beetroot, goat cheese, and arugula, and the quinoa and pomegranate, are excellent. One of the few restaurants in Hauz Khas Village with promise, Coast Café is spread over three floors (the second and third floors also have terraces). Chairs with blue upholstery and a hint of yellow on the tables give the place a balmy aura, that complement the restaurant’s cocktail list. The peach and the aam panna margarita are always executed with precision.
H-2, Hauz Khas Village (011-33105045). Everyday, noon-1am. Meal for two: ₹1,500.
Fuji’s low seats are filled with Japanese expats and office-goers on lunch and dinner breaks. The menu is thorough: ten types each of nigiri and sushi rolls, yakitori, teppanyaki, ramen, katsu curry, and set lunches for mains. Ramen bowls are generous, surprisingly light, and salted just right. All of the sushi is made well, but the salmon and scallop nigiri can be addictive. On weekdays, a set lunch of chicken katsu with miso and pickle can be stupor-inducing.
M-41/2, Speedbird House, Middle Circle Connaught Place (011-33107682). Daily, 11am-3pm; 6-11pm. Meal for two: ₹2,500.
Basil & Thyme is a favourite with the city’s old timers, patronised for its elegant food and decor. The kitchen cooks up European fare served casually, bistro-style. Highlights include the carrot-and-orange soup, quiche Lorraine, always well turned out with a fresh side salad, and the “Italian” stuffed roast chicken, which is ironically appropriate for an English Sunday roast craving.
28, Sunder Nagar Market (011-24673322). Daily, 11am-11pm. Meal for two: ₹2,000.
Oh! Calcutta has the air of a canteen, thanks to its constantly chattering patrons. A lunch buffet is laid out daily with a slightly more elaborate version on Sundays. The fish fry is simple but tastes great with the in-house mustard sauce as does the jhinge aloo posto (potato and drumsticks with poppy seeds) and doi maach (fish in yoghurt gravy). Both are paired well with luchi—the Bengali equivalent of a bhatura—or plain, steamed rice.
International Trade Tower, Ground Floor, E-Block, Nehru Place (011-3040 2415). Daily, 12.30-3.30pm; 7.30-11.30pm. Meal for two: ₹2,000.
In the last few years, a clutch of restaurants like Farzi Café and Masala House have successfully attempted Indian fusion, but Indian Accent remains the undisputed favourite. Signatures like the foie gras-stuffed galawat with strawberry chutney have such high recall value that finding softer galouti kebabs might be a task best reserved only for a trip to Lucknow. Regulars swear by the bacon, duck, and cheddar kulchas, wasabi raita, and black dal. The restaurant’s take on Old Delhi dessert daulat ki chaat is served with tandoor-cooked figs.
The Manor, 77 Friends Colony (43235151). Daily, noon-3pm; 7-11pm. Meal for two: ₹4,000.
Cleaner and more tastefully decorated than other Rajasthani thali joints in Delhi, Kathputli has wooden furniture, an elaborate fort embossed on one wall, and dal-baati and churma that immobilizes even the most seasoned eaters. As with all thalis, the menu is pre-set but the dishes change seasonally. The food is served with warmth and generosity, including multiple refills of the restaurant’s fresh lemonade and buttermilk. It’s note-worthy that the servers who dollop portions onto the thali do so without splattering the food all over.
35A Defence Colony Market (09911729955). Daily, 12.30-4pm; 7.30-11.30pm. Meal for two: ₹1,000.
Delhi now has a number of Naga, Assamese, and Manipuri restaurants but Rosang’s menu remains the most comprehensive. Its selection includes dishes from Arunachal Pradesh (fried crispy potatoes), Tripura (fish fried in berma paste), Manipur (singju—a vegetable salad), Assam (fish tenga), Mizoram (chicken cooked with lemon leaves), Meghalaya (pork cooked in black sesame paste), Nagaland (pork with fermented bamboo shoot), and Sikkim (thukpa and momos). Jakoi at Assam Bhavan also does detailed Assamese fare, but it’s slightly more watered down than the food at Rosang. Don’t forget to ask for the daily specials.
S-20 Green Park Extension Market, Near Uphaar Cinema, Green Park (65544411). Daily, 12.30-11pm. Meal for two: ₹1,200.
Those who aren’t seeking Rustom’s could easily miss the restaurant on Adichini Main Road. Less gimmicky than other Parsi restaurants in Delhi, Rustom’s is styled like a typical Zoroastrian home in Bombay, with tiled floors, antique wooden furniture, and a menu that boats of the best dhansak in town, a typical Sunday lunch in Parsi homes. Begin your meal with the kheema pattice and aakoori on toast, then dig into the macchi ni curry (filetted sole in a coconut gravy) and dhansak, and make sure you have room for the creamy caramel custard. Packets of sali and vinegar (staples in Parsi kitchens) are displayed for sale near the cash counter.
94 A/B Adhichini Main Road, Aurobindo Marg (099100 60502). Daily, 12.30-3pm; 7.30-11pm. Meal for two: ₹1,500.
Talk about Korean food in Delhi and chances are Gung – The Palace will come up in conversation. Gung is good (and easier to find) but the food at The Shim Tur is better—and less pricey. The kim bop (or gimbap) is an excellent way to start a summer meal, and the chicken barbecued in a sweet soya sauce is a great way to end it. Backpacker central Pahar Ganj hides this Korean gem in a dingy building with pistachio green walls. Don’t be put off by the dilapidated approach; it leads up to a lovely terrace with bamboo walls and fairy lights.
3-F Navrang Guest House, 6 Tooti Galli, Main Bazaar, Pahar Ganj (9810386717). Daily, 10am-11pm. Meal for two: ₹600.
The Potbelly popularised Bihari food in Delhi with admirable success. Start with the “phataka French fries”—fried potato, cheese, and kheema all in one plate—but keep plenty of room for the golmirch chicken and chicken kaalimirch. Bihari classics like litti chokha, maher, and ghunt are all hearty treats for vegetarians, and “desi coolers” like the aam panna and sattu cooler are ideal for washing down the spice post meals.
116-C Shahpur Jat, Fourth Floor (011-33107597). Plot 15, Bihar Niwas, Behind Yashwant Place, Chanakyapuri (011-26112764). Daily, 12.30-11pm. Meal for two: ₹1,000.
Don’t be alarmed by the Chinjabi food listed on Sidewok’s menu. The restaurant—all four outlets across the city—serve consistently good Chinese food. The dim sum melts in the mouth, the lemon-coriander soup never disappoints, and the Cantonese-style chicken is always a winner. The Chinjabi favourites aren’t bad either but it’s best to sample their more delicate flavours. The stir fried tofu in chilli-basil sauce, and sweet and sour pork are particularly memorable.
19, Khan Market (01143563122). For other outlets, go here. Daily, noon-midnight. Meal for two: ₹2,000.
Named after dive bars in Kerala where fresh palm toddy is served, The Toddy Shop dishes out appams and Malabar parottas that would satisfy even nitpicky ammamas. The Malayali food menu features dishes like Stella’s Potato Roast, kothu porotta, and feisty Kerala chicken fry. There’s plenty for vegetarians too: the soondal, Bengal gram tempered with mustard and coconut, is delicious as is the avial. To have a traditional toddy-shop meal, get the kappa-meen: fish curry with a side of tapioca.
1-A Hauz Khas Village, Second floor (8010187777). Daily, noon-midnight. Meal for two: ₹1,200.
Tables at Le Bistro Du Parc are set in a terrace overlooking a garden, a set-up generally confined to posh Delhi homes. The menu changes periodically but the salads and sandwiches remain constant. (Both the goat cheese and the warm quinoa salads are fresh and satiating). Watch out for the specials scrawled on the black board: There’s usually a gluten-free vegetable pasta and a few desserts. Fairy lights are turned on after dark, which keep the place looking festive throughout the year.
A-57-59 Moolchand Market, near Defence Colony (011-33105294). Tuesday to Sunday, noon-4pm; 7-11.30pm. Meal for two: ₹3,000.
Vritti Bansal is a writer and editor who lives between Dublin and Delhi. She has previously led the Food & Drink sections for Time Out Delhi and India Today Group Digital, and now runs a food website called Binge.