Connaught Place, New Delhi's central business district, has really come alive in recent years. This once rather bland neighborhood is now home to some of the city's best restaurants and bars. Most are located in the Outer Circle (also known as Connaught Circus). It's vibrant and social! Whether you're interested in sampling some street food or would prefer fine dining, here's the pick of what to eat in Connaught Place.
Veda is definitely not your ordinary north Indian cuisine joint. It's an eclectic collaboration between New York restaurateur Alok Aggarwal, Indian-born New York-based Master Chef Suvir Saran, and acclaimed Indian fashion designer Rohit Bal. The restaurant's exquisitely opulent interiors have a distinct regal feel. Think deep red brick walls, velvet curtains, chandeliers, and mirrors everywhere. Many of the dishes are served with contemporary twists. The lamb leg is the house specialty. There's also a special tasting menu with small portions of a selection of items. Want a romantic dinner? This is the place
Renowned for its delicious and reasonably priced authentic vegetarian south Indian cuisine, this very successful chain of restaurants has expanded across India and internationally since it was founded in Chennai in 1981. The Connaught Place branch was launched in 2004. It's hugely popular, so expect to wait before being seated on weekends. Dosas are a specialty here. If you're feeling hungry, try the classic Tamil Nadu thali. Wash it down with a south Indian filter coffee.
The quirky yet elegant Farzi Cafe aims to bring Indian cuisine into vogue, and it's doing a great job of it! The restaurant was established by Indian food expert Jiggs Kalra and his entrepreneur son (who are also responsible for the wildly successful Masala Library). Farzi Cafe has the same approach to Indian food as Masala Library, focusing on molecular gastronomy. However, the food is more experimental and affordable, as the restaurant is aimed at a younger crowd. It isn't only a popular destination for foodies. Look for dishes like tempura fried prawns, duck samosa, and asparagus and water chestnut korma. Bands and DJs regularly perform there on weekends too, so you can party on until late. (Note that children aren't permitted in the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights).
Regional Indian Cuisine: Mother India
Although it's a new entrant to the dining scene in Connaught Place, Mother India's evocative nostalgic decor will transport you back in time. It's fitting, as the restaurant has the same name as a 1957 Bollywood movie. The extensive menu consists of more than 150 dishes from across the country. The kebabs are popular here. However, ideally be adventurous and try some of the lesser-known specialty dishes such as grilled river fish marinated with raja mirchi from Nagaland, home-style Mandi chicken curry from Himachal Pradesh, or mutton (goat) curry from Odisha. There's live music on the weekends. Need to get some work done? The upstairs portion of the restaurant is a dedicated co-working space during the week.
If you're craving authentic Hyderabadi biryani, Bikkgane Biryani is the place to go. This aromatic, non-vegetarian delicacy is regarded as the king of rice dishes. It's made from basmati rice, cooked with a special blend of spices in a pot. The restaurant serves all types, ranging from mutton to prawn, but mutton is the most famour. There are options for vegetarians too. Plus, tikkas, curries, and kebabs to complement the biryanis. Such is the legendary status of this restaurant that you'll need to wait at least 20 minutes for a table on weekends.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a thali, with its wide variety of dishes, if you're hungry. At Rajdhani, this platter comes with a mind-boggling 32 different items! What's more, there are 72 different menus, which are consistently rotated. The thalis are vegetarian and consist predominantly of Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine. The first Rajdhani restaurant opened in Baroda in Gujarat in 1985, and now there outlets in about 30 locations across India.
One of the funkiest restaurants in Connaught Place, Lady Baga opened in early 2017 and recreates the Goan vibe in Delhi. It defines itself as "part beach shack, full hippie". There are even seascapes projected onto the walls. You'll want to visit just for the gorgeous decor! The menu features yummy Goan-style seafood, burgers, snacks, and some very creative cocktails. Try the chef's special recipe Goan fish curry, prawn curry and vegetable curry. Go on Thursday nights for live bands and really cheap drinks (starting from 69 rupees only).
Feel like having a break from Indian food? Smoke House Deli is a classy and chic restaurant that serves everything from pancakes to pasta. Try the Peri Peri Chicken, Caesar salad, or a tenderloin steak. Top it off with one of the fruit and herb infused martinis, or artisanal cocktails. Its walls are artfully decorated with paintings of old Connaught Place shops, as well as local monuments such as Jantar Mantar and Agrasen ki Baoli. There are happy hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Thursday. Breakfast is served all day!
At The Masala Trail, you can sample vegetarian street food from all over India without having to be concerned about hygiene. Founded by respected food critic and master chef Osama Jalali, the restaurant's comprehensive menu is divided into four sections—east, west, north and south India. Its interior is cute and colorful, with auto rickshaws on the walls and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.
Cha Bar, located in the Oxford Bookstore, is one of the best places to drink tea in India. The concept started in Kolkata in 2000 and has been responsible for turning chai (tea) into a trendsetting lifestyle drink across the country. With more than 150 teas on the menu, there's something for everyone, from a reinvention of the ubiquitous milky Indian "cutting chai" to exotic Japanese Genmaicha. Choose from flowering teas, organic teas, herbal and Ayurvedic teas, diet teas, exclusive teas from Indian tea regions, and the best cultural teas from Sri Lanka, South Africa, Thailand, Russia, Japan, China and Arabia. The possibilities are almost endless! Gourmet snacks and light lunches are served, plus customers are welcome to relax and read a book from the store's collection while they drink.