South Delhi's selection of restaurants can be overwhelming, so let us help you find the very best | Andrii Shevchuk / Alamy Stock Photo
To help solve the problem of plenty, Culture Trip has enlisted the help of local chefs and restaurateurs to give the low-down on their favourite places to eat in South Delhi.
Food is a great way to explore Delhi’s diversity. The Mughals brought their kebabs and sweets, now considered traditional local fare, and since then Delhi has never looked back. Whether it’s the Bengali’s serving mutton chops in CR Park, the Afghans serving up kebabs and naans in Lajpat Nagar, the Tibetan community and their noodles in Majnu Ka Tila, or the array of Punjabi dhabas and their dals and curries, each culture has had their vital part to play. This has led to an explosion of eateries ranging from the Michelin-star-quality restaurants located in hotels, to local dhabas and roadside snack counters. With such a range of delectable, yet unique, options available it can be a daunting task deciding where, and what to eat. With that in mind, Culture Trip asked Savar Duggal, founder and head chef of catering company The Supper Club, and mother-daughter duo Sarita Ahuja and Tarini Ahuja, the tag team behind the popular Rose Cafe, to name their favourite eateries in just one section of the city – South Delhi.
Sea bass, alleppy curry, bone powder podi and kadambittu is a popular dish at ROOH restaurant
This elegant European cafe in the posh Khan Market is “a great place for small plates and drinks,” explains Tarini. With a large wine selection, laid-back energy and a small yet well-crafted menu – including spicy pork sausages, puff-baked Camembert, and a hearty roasted Belgian pork belly – Perch is best enjoyed on a lazy weekend afternoon watching the evening light filter through the windows, or as a pit stop before a night out. Located in one of Asia’s most expensive retail high streets, Khan Market is a great spot for shopping, brunch dates and afternoon cocktails if you have some money to burn.
Specialising in cuisine from Andhra Pradesh, this bhawan is one of the many state house canteens around the city. Savar is a huge fan of the relaxed atmosphere and cheap prices, “and you have to have their South Indian Thali, a lunch special, and Mutton Fry”. The thali is their star dish and a vegetarian extravaganza – you can grab two vegetable curries, one dal, a sambar, and enjoy it with rice or puris (bread) – while the savoury mutton dish is the perfect side. And remember, the thali is unlimited so you can keep asking for more. On Sundays they offer up a special lunchtime hyderabadi chicken biryani. It can get very crowded and they make a limited amount of food everyday so make sure you get there early if you’re going for breakfast (8am to 10.30am) or lunch (12pm to 3pm).
“I love their sukha mutton fry (dry, spicy mutton fry), eat it with malabar paratha (flaky flatbread); and Kerala grilled chicken. But their aubergine cokum curry (with a coconut-milk base), with appam (rice hoppers), is to die for,” gushes Tarini when speaking of this little oasis of calm in the lively village of Hauz Khas. Serving up a selection of modern coastal and Kerala cuisine, Coast Cafe also has a variety of delicious salads, grills and tacos. A peaceful place to spend a breezy summer afternoon and grab a drink, Tarini particularly recommends trying their cucumber and basil martinis.
Slightly out of place among the expensive sit-down restaurants surrounding it in the upscale Khan Market, this tiny kebab joint is Delhi’s version of a street-side barbecue. Savar’s favourite dishes include the mutton seekh (soft, grilled skewers) and the mutton galouti kebabs (minced patties), while it would be remiss not to mention the plate of chicken malai tikka (chargrilled kebabs marinated in a yogurt sauce) and all of their romali roti rolls (soft, thin bread). While they have a small selection of vegetarian plates it should be stressed this budget-friendly shack is very much for the carnivores. Enjoy your rolls and kebabs with the tangy green (coriander and mint) chutney lathered onto your paper plates, standing in a sidelane of this high-end market flush with luxury and boutique stores.
Leo’s, serving authentic Neapolitan pizza, has been on everyone’s lips ever since it opened in 2017. When asked why, Tarini says, “It’s hands down the best pizza in Delhi.” And what makes it so good? “The perfect crust, cheese-toppings-sauce ratio. High-quality ingredients and a clear love for making pizza. I would literally eat it every day if I could.” Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Priya Complex in Basant Lok, this beautifully designed little pizzeria gets its name, and logo, from the owner’s dog (whose photos, along with his pup friends, adorn one wall). Its pizzas are best enjoyed fresh, delivery would be a let down, and Tarini recommends the Salsiccia, Quattro Formaggi and Pancetta pizzas.
Sarita says, “Wherever I find good salmon, I go. The food at Tres always has lovely flavours and a delicate balance. And their bread is awesome!” With European cuisine and signature cocktails – such as the spicy, tangy Burning Pineapple Margarita and the smokey, rum-based Coffee & Cigarettes – that get the job done, Tres is the perfect dinner spot. The salmon fillet, smoked duck breast and lamb chops are notable highlights. Tarini quickly interrupts her mother to personally recommend the 6oz tenderloin steak, served with a choice of green pepper or truffle sauce. The restaurant is located in Lodhi Colony, a peaceful, green neighbourhood close to Central Delhi, which is home to the Lodhi Art District. This initiative, by St+Art India (a street arts organisation), has seen the buildings in the neighbourhood transformed by murals and massive artworks by local and international artists alike. Make sure you check them out on your own little art walk, and burn off the post-meal calories.
With the proliferation of Italian restaurants in Delhi it can be hard to stand out, yet that is exactly what Artusi does. Sarita, again namechecking the salmon, explains, “They have lovely interiors and quality food, what more could you ask for?” She recommends going for brunch on Sunday, or for dinner post 10pm and that you can’t go wrong picking from the large selection of handmade pastas, with a dedicated section for long, short, baked and gnocchi options. Authentic delights such as the buttery, cheesy spaghetti cacio e pepe, the black squid ink and lemon flavoured chitarra nero e bottarga, risotto ai funghi – made with the finest mushrooms, and the tortellini alla panna, stuffed with delectable prosciutto and minced pork, are notable additions to a strong menu. Located in the popular GK2 M Block Market, this little gem, one of many restaurants either side of the large community park, has a small, yet charming, space that feels like it could host a meeting between overly posh Mafia bosses. If you don’t have any of those to attend, fear not, it’s also a great place to bring a date or to celebrate a special occasion.
How would one describe ROOH’s modern Indian cuisine? “What they’ve done is really innovative. They haven’t tried to mix it with different cuisines, like other Indian fusion restaurants. They have taken Indian dishes and elevated them, changed them,” says Savar. He recommends trying their non-veg set menu and the Duck Shami kebab. Located in the up-and-coming, upscale Ambawatta One complex, ROOH has a view of one of Delhi’s more famous monuments – the Qutub Minar.
Delhi is the home of kebabs, so what makes this little hole in the wall so good? The answer, to Sarita, is simple. “They are so consistent. Over the years the quality of their kebabs has never waned.” With very reasonable prices, melt-in-your-mouth kakori kebabs and chargrilled tikkas they are a must-visit for anyone with a hankering for meat. Savar claims, “they’re the best kakori kebabs I’ve had in Delhi”, and most locals, who order them for delivery, would agree. If you want to get those soft, delicious kebabs as fresh as can be, you can drive right up to their little shack, located in a peaceful side lane connecting SDA and Aurobindo markets, order your food and grab one of the few plastic tables in the vicinity or, like a true Delhiite, use the trunk of your car as a dining table.
This simple North Indian “hard-core Punjabi” restaurant, located in the busy GK1 M Block Market, had Savar salivating as he spoke. “They have the best Dal Makhni in town, I will stake anything on it. It is so rich.” While there are main restaurant options nearby, New Minar stands out thanks to the aforementioned dal, and their mutton seekh, mutton galouti kebabs, and butter chicken (a Delhi classic). If you’re looking for a light bite, this might not be the place for you. The dals and curries and heavy, immensely filling and buttery. Interestingly, this non-vegetarian restaurant, known for its meat dishes, is very popular among vegetarians, which is how Savar heard about it in the first place, because their vegetarian menu is extensive and stacked with quality paneer (cottage cheese) and mushroom dishes – including the buttery, creamy paneer makhani and the chargrilled tandoori mushroom, to name just two.