Delhi, India travel tips

Where we ate:

  • Bukhara – Everyone we talked to told us to treat ourselves to dinner at Bukhara, one of the most highly rated restaurants in India, so we went. The food wasn’t terrible – in fact the dahl was amazing, but a half stick of butter will do that for lentils. The meat was underseasoned and dry – Todd BBQs better. Bukhara was simply not worth the money ($120 US not including drinks), especially since incredible food is so cheap throughout most of India: NAH
  • Saravana Bhavan, Connaught Place – Sometimes oversalted but otherwise delish South Indian food, including divine coconut masala dosa: YEH
  • United Coffee House, Connaught Place – Way overpriced, but after a few other meals in Delhi, we discovered that it is really not as terrible as some other places in town: MEH
  • Karim’s, Old Delhi – First, try to negotiate a round trip rickshaw ride, because the wallahs will try to overcharge you by hundreds of rupees after you’re done with dinner. Doing flavorful meats for cheap, this place is nothing fancy, but it’s packed with happy locals and deserves the best restaurant awards it gets regularly. So greasy though that they give you a bowl so you can drain off the excess oil: YEH
  • All American Diner, India Habitat Center – Todd was craving pancakes, so we schlepped out to this recommended 50s style diner. The food and service were appalling. Most of the food was frozen, reminding us how awful microwaved pancakes are: NAH
  • Cha Bar in Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Plac – A tiny cafe inside the bookstore, they serve strange, sugary non-alcoholic drinks. Stick to the chai: MEH
  • Banana Leaf, Connaught Place – Probably the worst South Indian food you can get in India. Uttapam was gummy and thick, and much-touted dosa with lemon rice was boring: NAH
  • Zen, Connaught Place – We didn’t want to eat in CP anymore, but had no time and no choice. Zen was the bottom of the barrel of our Delhi food experiences. Bland, watery, and cheaply prepared Chinese food: NAH

Where we stayed:

  • Hotel Namaskar, Paharganj – Even for India, this hotel is beyond dirty. When we walked out when we were shown a room with roaches swarming off the bed, the owner even tried to get us to pay for a room night. A dump: NAH
  • R.S. International, Paharganj – When we tried to find a cheaper hotel, we discovered that R.S. is a bargain for Delhi and for the quality. As clean as can be hoped for, decent food (via room service only). They have one room without a window, which is cheaper but very dark and musty. You should be able to bargain and get the tax included in the quoted room price: YEH

What we saw:

  • The Official Government Tourist Office – If you can find it, you will probably find your visit a waste of time. Just go to the New Delhi Train Station’s International Tourist Bureau office instead: NAH
  • Delhi’s Interstate Bus Terminal – What a scary and confusing place. The buses in India are not this bad everywhere else, just in Delhi. Aim for a train to get you out of Delhi instead: NAH
  • New Delhi Train Station – As train stations in India go, this is an intimidating place, even for the experienced visitor. There are scam artists at every step outside the station. Do not believe anyone who tries to help you find the International Tourist Bureau office or anyone who asks to see your ticket and tells you your train is canceled, they’re trying to get you to go to their private office instead: MEH
  • International Tourist Bureau office at New Delhi Train Station – It’s still a confusing process, but they are not out to screw you here: YEH
  • Delhi’s Metro – This incredibly cheap, clean, efficient and crowded metro did not exist just four years ago, the last time we visited Delhi. The system is being rapidly expanded, including an express line to the aiport: YEH
  • Oriental Bank of Commerce – When the people that work at the bank tell you “Don’t use our ATMs. They’re very old. Only use ATMs with the swipe, not the dip” you know there’s something really afoul: NAH
  • Gandhi Smirti – This memorial and museum is a mish-mash of a few decades of tributes to the Mahatma’s life and death, including a new multi-media area, where overenthusiastic and overstaffed museum staff will practically hold your hand through the mostly successful exhibits. Don’t miss the room where they’ve practically hidden the older dioramas of scenes from Gandhi’s life – kitsch galore!: YEH