For a country with such a vibrant street food and tea culture, the western coffee shop trend took a while to gain prominence in India. Roadside eateries and Iranian cafes have always been an integral part of the country's culinary heritage. However it wasn't until a decade ago that cafes started mushrooming the streets and corners of the metropolitan cities to form a culinary scene of its own.
Exploring quirky themes and serving a medley of delicious, international favorites, coffee shops and bistros are now regular hangout spots for enthusiasts of all ages and interests. Delhi, being one of the leading food destinations of India, continues to capture this cafe culture with its collection of diverse and unconventional coffee shops. From the trendy and hip to the traditional, these cafes are the ideal respite from the chaos that grips this city daily.
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7 Fantastic Cafes in Delhi Perfect for a Coffee Break
Situated alongside the iconic Olive in Mehrauli, Grammar Room is the epitome of a classy café with a casual ambiance. A little compact and delicate, they have a no children policy, which may deter some families. However, that doesn’t seem to affect the popularity of the cafe. Vibrant, green, and refreshing, the limited food menu reflects the café’s lively style. The katsu sandwich and the curry up bowl are both intensely flavorful, whereas the Grammar Room pancakes are much-loved by regulars.
The café also serves a selection of wines, beers, and cocktails which make for an idyllic companion on cool winter days. These drinks are best enjoyed on the café's little patio overlooking a beautiful forest area.
A new venture by the local luxury stationery brand, Napa Dori, this café is a dog-friendly space in Dhan Mill Compound near Qutub Minar, New Delhi. Part of the area is reserved for a retail shop, whereas the rest is used for the café, including a separate glass enclosure. Café Dori has a somewhat industrial feel to its atmosphere, but the food echoes the stylishness of their retail products. Café Dori serves a special breakfast menu up until noon, which is slightly limited in choices, especially if you're a vegetarian. Their day-menu, on the other hand, is packed full of goodies like the wild mushroom pappardelle, pan-seared john dory, and sun-dried tomato and asparagus risotto.
Café Dori’s peculiarities continue in the bathroom where, instead of music, you get to listen to a Harry Potter audio-book. And for your four-legged friends, Café Dori has a tiny menu comprising of carrot cake and doggie scrambled eggs with veggies.
Jugmug Thela started as a street stand in 2013 and developed a niche following of its own quickly. Now, they have moved into their first brick and mortar café in South Delhi. The cafe carries its original theme of wholesome food and artisanal teas, served in a comfortable and tranquil environment.
Books line the walls of the cafe in one corner while the little patio at the back is the ideal spot for a quiet sit down during the winter months. There's a lot of wood used as part of the decor that gives the cafe a natural and welcoming aura. Jugmug's Vietnamese iced coffee is a must-have, acting as the perfect refresher when it's hot and humid outside. Their open sandwiches are unique and flavorful, made with innovative ingredients like wasabi-infused yogurt and almond butter.
Situated next to the National Crafts Museum, Cafe Lota is all about enjoying an arty, college canteen vibe with its no-fuss seating. You’re likely to find everyone from politicians and college students to lovers on their first date and friends meeting for a relaxed Sunday brunch at the café, on any given day.
The food at Café Lota is its high point. The menu is a combination of comfort bites done using healthy and local ingredients. The keema parantha consists of whole-wheat bread stuffed with minced goat’s meat and is a delight to savor. However, it’s worth experimenting with some of their more exotic preparations such as chicken mokul, which has its origins in Rajasthan, and bhatt ki churkani, served with a hemp relish.
Another eatery that originated from a retail background, Fab Café is slowly transforming into a noteworthy brand across the nation. Fab India has long been a champion of Indian fashion, and the bistro continues with the legacy by serving dishes made from local ingredients.
The interiors of the cafe are typically soothing, with subtle colors and greenery, adding a much-needed break from the drastic pollution of the city. Their baked dal samosas are oil-free, and the dal makhana has no cream in it. For those following the latest Kombucha trend, Fab Café offers various flavors of this popular probiotic tea.
Diggin, opposite Gargi College, has been a popular haunt with college students for quite a while now. The interior is decorated with large French windows letting in natural light and illuminating the café during the day. The décor is eccentric with a mixture of paraphernalia and books on the walls. Service at Diggin deserves a special mention for being exceptionally friendly and welcoming.
The café has quite an extensive menu, with the focus being on Italian dishes like pizza, pasta, and calzone. Make sure to start your meal with their spinach, mushroom, and cheese baked potato and end it with the delicious coffee creme brûlée.
Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
India's very own specialty coffee chain, Blue Tokai is known for its fresh roasted coffee made from a variety of beans. Blue Tokai coffee shops not only dot the capital city of Delhi, but are also Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa and Jaipur. The setup of their cafe at Champa Gali is quintessential in looks with large tables that can accommodate people wanting to work with laptops easily. Moreover, windows into their backspace allow visitors a peek into the coffee roasting process, and the baristas are more than happy to take you for a tour and explain the process.
Coffee enthusiasts will find the innumerable drinking options at Blue Tokai a real delight. While the classics are always there if you really want to try something different, go with their moderately priced hot or cold tasting menus that comprises of three different types of coffees. The café also serves a tasty collection of pastries and cupcakes along with artisanal bread, sandwiches and breakfast eats.
Starbucks, Barista Lavazza, Chayoos and Cafe Coffee Day are four of the most popular coffee shop chains in the country. As a result, you'll find one or the other in every major market of Delhi. There's an apparent familiarity to these cafes that is at times comforting, but often mundane. However, when it comes to spearheading the popularization of the cafe culture in the country, it's the independent places that continue to do so with much fervor and elan.