Megha Mahindru, 25-year-old Delhi native, takes her job seriously. Even though the reporter keeps busy eating, dancing and interviewing the who’s who of Delhi, Mahindru found time to share her top picks in her hometown.
Brief bio, occupation: Journalist for BEAT, a lifestyle magazine in Delhi. I write features on food, nightlife, art and culture, as well as city trends.
Length of time in city: Born and raised in Delhi!
EAT & DRINK
Favorite high-end restaurant
Indian Accent at the Manor, 77, Friends Colony (West).
Serves contemporary Indian cuisine fused brilliantly with continental and oriental fare. An excellent fine dining experience with a great selection of wines.
Best deal restaurant
4S at Defence Colony Market.
This dimly-lit drinking hole is a favorite among college goers and young professionals for its cheap beer and mouth-watering Chin-jabi food (a mix of Indo-Punjabi and Chinese).
Best street food
Warning: Delhi’s buzzing street food culture, with chaat, kachori and golgappa stalls everywhere, leads to Delhi Belly!
Haldirams, B-1/H-8, Mathura Road.
Hot and spicy dishes, so be sure to order according to your taste.
Khan Chachas in Khan Market.
For succulent meat kebabs.
Nizams, near Plaza Complex, Connaught Place.
The best kathi-kebabs in town!
Al Kauser, 6, Shopping Centre, Malcha Marg Market, Chankyapuri.
Kakori kebabs, for the real foodies.
Best Breakfast Place
All American Diners, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road.
After the Glutton’s Breakfast here—a greasy dose of eggs, ham, bacon, juice and more—you won’t be hungry for the rest of the day.
Café Turtle, N-8, Greater Kailash-1.
A vegetarian cafe and bookstore with delicious coffee. Great for a light bite, delicious sweets or to while away the hours.
Mocha, Defence Colony market.
Popular with the college set, Mocha serves hookahs and extremely slurp-able shakes.
Best place to work on laptop with free wi-fi
Market Cafe, middle lane, Khan Market.
Not free (you’ll have to buy a coffee or sandwich), but it’s a quiet cafe ideal for work.
Aqua, Park Hotel, 15, Parliament Street.
Sip martinis by the poolside.
Shalom, N Block, Greater Kailash-1.
A night owl favorite.
Stone, Defence Colony market.
Food and spirits for those who prefer their drink in quieter surroundings.
Best place to smoke and drink
Bonsai, Corus Hotel, B block, Inner Circle, Connaught Place.
This hidden treasure offers affordable beer, delectable cuisine and a fabulous open-air ambience.
Fact and Fiction, v39, Priya Complex, Basant Lok, Vasant Vihar.
An amazing storehouse for bibliophiles where you’re guaranteed to find that one book you can’t find anywhere else. The initially snooty owner not only gets apologetic, but takes it as a personal insult if a book can’t be found in his store.
Best magazine stand
Outside Bahri Sons bookstore, Khan Market.
This magazine vendor hoards the greatest collection of English magazines from across the world, on every imaginable topic. Great for browsing.
Anokhi, N-16, 2nd floor, Greater Kailash-1.
Fab India, outlets across Delhi.
Both have vibrant Indian casuals collections.
Best souvenir shops
Janpath Flea Market, Connaught Place or Dilli Haat, near AIIMS flyover.
An array of handicrafts from across India; one of my favorite outdoor spaces and a must-do for tourists!
Tantra, 7, Janpath Bhawan, Connaught Place.
Trademark Indian humor on tees.
People Tree, 8, Regal Building, Connaught Place.
This offbeat boutique never fails to surprise with its eclectic, fun things to buy.
Favorite art space/gallery/museum
India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road.
The buzzing cultural hub of the capital. Music, film festivals, art and photography exhibitions.
The National Gallery of Modern Arts, India Gate.
A great place for art connoisseurs.
Favorite outdoor space:
Raj Ghat, a memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
A nice way to spend a quiet evening.
Best touristy thing to do
Agrasen ke Baoli, India gate, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb.
A trip to these touristy monuments is also a must-do.
United Coffee House, Connaught Place.
Sip on some masala chai, Darjeeling tea, or filter coffee.
Best place to people-watch
The business centre of Delhi, where Delhiites from every section of society—from Armani-clad businessmen to university rebels—come together. The lush, green Central Park in the middle is great for lazing around and watching the city pass you by.
Only a local does or knows about:
“From VV, go to CP for gjams, and then Def Col for Hot Sams.”
Only a Delhiite will understand a cryptic sentence like that¬¬¬—acronyms are so seeped into our consciousness that we find calling Connaught Place by its real name a huge task, and stick to CP instead. What’s more, even food items aren’t spared: gulab jamun, a popular sweet delicacy is popularly called gjams!
The must-see thing(s) in your city
The newest success story driving the city, it is also the most efficient mode of transportation.
A locality in Old Delhi where horse-tongas (carriages) still run, it is a maze in and of itself. The serpentine roads are a mystery to most Delhiites as well.
Best events in each season?
If you are coming around October, it is when Delhi shines the brightest. There are many Diwali melas/ fetes held across the city.
Delhi International Arts Festival
In December, art and theatre take over the Delhi dais.
March Fashion Weeks
For the fashion-inclined, a good time to socialize and schmooze.
Given only 24-hours in your city, put together a quick itinerary from your above recommendations!
Wake up to the Glutton’s Breakfast at American Diner.
Head to Connaught Place and spend your day fruitfully by shopping and people watching.
Grab a bite of authentic Indian food at United Coffee House in CP.
Head to the NGMA near India Gate to view the latest in the Delhi art circle.
Once twilight sets in, get on to the metro and get off at Chandni Chowk for an experience of Old Delhi.
If you prefer a quieter place instead, hop on to an auto and head to Raj Ghat to spend some time in solitude.
End the day at Aqua bar, a perfect antidote to a perfectly eventful day.
Best website for local info
Anything else you want to mention?
Best way to get fleeced
Carry a European/American (read un-Indian) demeanor to an auto rikshaw guy and tell him that you don’t know the city well in English— chances are he’ll set you by with a bill of 500 Rs. for a distance worth Rs. 30. Suggestion: Stick to the Delhi Metro wherever you can.