When holidaying in Delhi, India’s capital city, most visitors tend to base themselves in the bustling district around New Delhi station but it’s worth venturing to South Delhi, an historic district a few miles from the center, and a place exuding a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe. Popular with young Delhiites because of its numerous shops and food joints, South Delhi is worth getting to know. Here we list 10 of the area’s best brunch spots.
A short walk from Saket metro station is the very cool Rose Café. Décor-wise, this place embraces shabby chic, think chintz curtains, pink-painted brick walls and distressed wooden furniture. The food on offer is predominantly Western in style, and it’s all done impeccably. If you’re in the mood to share, there are some great mezze platters of both the meat and veggie variety. Otherwise, there are sandwiches, spot-on pasta dishes and cooked breakfasts. A whole double-page of the menu is dedicated to ‘comfort food’, but if that sounds a little heavy, you could always go for one of their thin-crust pizzas with salad piled on top.
You’ll be surprised by the level of creativity that has gone into the menu at Choco Vault. We’ve all heard of chocolate fondue, but chocolate pizza? What about chocolate therapy or chocolixirs? Those, by the way, are just the names of sections of the menu. The individual items are no less intriguing; try the Holy Ba! Na! Na! or the Spectacular Mess, to name but two. A delightfully quirky little café where the keyword is ‘indulgence’. Even the chairs are shaped like cupcakes.
Movie posters adorn the walls of the large dining room in Saket’s The Big Chill. On any given day of the week it is always at least half-filled by a friendly crowd of young Delhiites. Renowned for its thick milkshakes and rich desserts, The Big Chill leans towards Italy with the rest of its menu. Pretty much every classic pasta dish is represented; there’s cheese-filled ravioli, penne all’arrabiatta and tagliatelle with (chicken) bolognese. The pizzas and paninis are good too. A trendy place with a lively atmosphere.
Slap-bang in the middle of Khan Market is the charmingly-named Café Turtle. Relaxed and welcoming, it’s the perfect place in which to spend a few hours drinking coffee and reading a book; hardly surprising, since Café Turtle was established by the owners of the nearby Full Circle Bookstore. The menu is pretty book-like too, running as it does for pages and pages. On top of a wide selection of teas and coffees, they’ve got breakfasts, salads, soups (both hot and cold), sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and a whole lot more.
Part of a successful nationwide chain, the South Delhi branch of Café Coffee Day sits a few streets away from Hauz Khas Market. It’s a colorful, plush-sofa-filled space where visitors are positively encouraged to just hang out and relax. The food is largely Western in style with occasional Indian flourishes, like the tandoori paneer sub or the spiced chicken roll. Also available are croissants and other pastries, as well as some absolutely enormous burgers. Plus, as you might expect, the coffee is great, try the Aztec latte or the hazelnut cappuccino. A deservedly popular spot.
Situated near Hauz Khas forest, Sakley’s The Mountain Café is one for the foodies. Its menu changes to reflect the seasons, but is always exciting and well thought-out. The dining room is elegant and tranquil, with a decorative stone fireplace and tree trunk tables. Outside, there’s a plant-filled terrace that’s shady in sunny weather and cozy during Delhi’s rare cold spells. There are spicy, fruit-filled cocktails too, should you happen to stay past brunch.
Another Italian-inspired haunt, this time in South Delhi’s upscale Defence Colony. The good people at Amici make a real effort to do things authentically; the fettucine is homemade and they offer a handful of ‘white’ (i.e. tomato-less) pizzas, which are popular in Italy but relatively uncommon everywhere else. That said, they do throw in some fun twists, who’d have thought spicy paneer would make such a good pizza topping? And let’s not forget their grand selection of sandwiches, grilled meat and fish. Excellent coffee to boot.
Tucked away down a quiet street, this South Indian café specializes in dosa, a kind of crepe made from rice batter and lentils. Dimpled and a little chewy on one side, flaky and crisp on the other, Carnatic Café’s dosa are served rolled up with lightly curried vegetables in the middle and your choice of chutneys on the side. Beautiful and delicate yet substantial enough to fill you up until the evening, dosa may be the perfect brunch food. The café itself is lovely too, with warmly-colored walls and prayer flags hanging from the ceiling. It is comparatively small, but the service is fast and friendly.
Popular with students of nearby Sri Venkateswara College, Café Why Not offers an eclectic mix of food. The first few pages of the menu are dedicated to wood-fired pizzas and burgers so tall they need toothpicks to hold them together, but keep flipping and you’ll get to the Indian dishes; perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s in this area that the café excels. Try the tandoori chicken or the kulcha, a puffy flatbread served with spicy chickpeas. As its name suggests, the vibe at Café Why Not is decidedly laid back. The walls are lined with leather banquettes on which you can lounge and let your food digest until well into the afternoon.
Saket’s Mishtaan Café has been going for years and is generally considered by locals to be the best place to go for mithai, syrupy Indian sweets that come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and textures. Have one or two of these with a cup of strong coffee and you’ll be set for the day. But if you’re someone who prefers savory to sweet, worry not, Mishtaan has got you covered. One thing you must try is panipuri, little balls of unleavened bread that are fried until crispy then stuffed with chickpeas, tamarind chutney and green salsa. A whole meal in a mouthful.