“Let’s meet in CP…it’s central.”
My “catch up for coffee” plans usually conclude with this sentence. Partly because the charm of “New Delhi’s colonial heart” invariably beckons me and partly because, well it is central.
“So, where in CP?”
The answer to this depends on whom I am meeting. A formal meeting usually happens in one of the many CCDs or Costa Coffee shops. CCD Square in C block is a comfortable and go-to stop. But then there are several options of places that are not CCD or Costa Coffee. Here’s my list of best coffee places (that are not necessarily coffee shops) in CP. Try one of these if you haven’t already…
1. Cha Bar: It’s tea bar but you get good coffee as well. I still miss the sweet little corner in The Statesman House. But the ‘new’ Cha Bar at the Oxford Bookstore competes well. After feasting on latest books, magazines and stationery items, find a space in the ‘cafe’ area and just park yourself there. As a regular when my office was just opposite the building, I saw a lot of loyal patrons. Low prices is one of the reasons for its popularity. Masala chai for 35, cappuccino for Rs 50…aur kya chahiye! They have a huge variety of teas to choose from and good enough options for coffee and snacks.
Mind you, the service is slow. I choose the place when I am in no rush at all. (Also, a great place when you’re in mood to enjoy your own company by reading a book or writing a blog!)
2. Cafe Immigrant: This is a very recent discovery. The ‘cooling’ effect of the interiors on a summery Sunday impressed me right away. I liked the quirks like ‘Immigrant Ghee’ dabba for cutlery; the red brick decor attempting to give a rustic appeal. The place is more for a drink or cocktail since the coffee did not taste great. I hope they work on that cause it’s just the place you’d want to sit and sip endless cups of tea and coffee. Tea, cocktails, mocktails, Meidterranean, Italian, Thai — the options are too many.
Two cups of coffee and a starter costed us Rs 600 approx.
3. United Coffee House: It seemed too upscale for us during my growing up years. It seemed too ‘uptight’ for hanging out while in college. I did not realize exactly when I warmed up to United Coffee House. Sandwiches, coffee and old-world charm make for a refreshing evening. The menu is exhaustive with options from “recipes since 1942” to grilled prawns, street food, and much more. Prices are on the higher side.
4. The Embassy Restaurant: Speaking of old-world charm, how can we not talk about this restaurant. Standing the test of time just like UCH, it has seen several eateries open and shut shops. A detailed review of The Embassy will follow soon. As for now, I recommend stopping by for a cup of Cona Coffee (Rs 85). A delicious coffee served with warm hospitality by one of the members of the staff working here for about 20 years. “Most of the patrons are such regulars that they don’t have to look at the menu,” says one of them with pride.
5. Indian Coffee House: You probably would have visited the place with your parents for coffee and cutlets. While the outlet at Baba Kharak Singh Marg is more popular, the one on the terrace of Mohan Singh Palace is charming too. It’s difficult to find place at both the outlets since people usually ‘park’ themselves here for long hours. Once a hotspot for political discussions, Coffee House still witnesses youngsters as well as elderly sitting under the shade of tress chatting, debating, discussing important and trivial issues. Not only does the ambience hold nostalgia, prices are old-worldly too. The outlets are a bliss for a tight-pocketed winter evening.
Other than these, I have two other favourite coffee stops that require me to pay just Rs 20 for a cup! You know the ‘machine wali coffee’ served at weddings? There’s one in Shankar Market; take the cup and sit on the bench inside the complex. Then there’s one at the small shop outside Mohan Singh Palace. Find a spot and spend hours observing people crowding at Hanuman Temple on one hand and making a queue outside PVR Rivoli on the other.
Which are your favourite coffee hangouts in Delhi?