There are plenty of ‘best restaurants’ lists all over the Internet. Why do we even need one? After all, food is a choice, taste is a personal matter and budget is a big factor.
In spite of all these factors, the biggest reason for a ‘list’ is aspiration. A restaurant aspires to be on a list, and a diner aspires to eat at a restaurant on a list. A list is believable, relatable, something to work onwards. Think of it as a culinary road map. From Delhi to Mumbai, Kolkata to Chennai, with several stops along the way, we bring you a list of what we feel, are the 50 Best New Restaurants in the country. We are sure you’ve been to some, and must have heard of others. And we hope there are some surprises in store for you too. (Read about Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)
We’ve done the hard work for you. Now, it’s time for you to go taste. Happy feasting.
Grandmothers’ recipes handed down over generations and secret cooking techniques learnt in ainmanes (ancestral homes), heritage bungalows and hole-in-the-wall eateries; Oota Bangalore took three years in the making after a 20,000 km food journey with two travelling chefs and food writers. Here your culinary masterclass begins with a steward placing a brass annapakshi salver with a set of five pudis (powders) and chutneys, accompanied by assorted apalas (poppadams). The iPad menu is extensive, covering five circuits. From sauji khara boti to GSB dali toye, Oota is a tribute to Karnataka’s communities and diversity, bringing the best flavours of the state under one roof.
UNIQUENESS: The place offers great Gowda and Mangalorean food
Mustard, Goa & Mumbai
Goa was doing just fine before the opening of Mustard in 2015. Shacks were flung open; seafood attacked, and bottles of Kings guzzled in a state of sussegad. But like the condiment to which the restaurant owes its name, Mustard has added an extra zing to the party capital’s culinary scene. Despite a menu split into two diverse halves—Bengali and French—the food served at the fine-dining restaurant comes together well, also catering to the usually sidelined vegetarians in Goa.
UNIQUENESS: By highlighting the pungent Bengali kasundi and French Dijon, Mustard ties two unlikely cuisines together. You can see that in dishes like the cocktail luchis and aloo, calamari with kasundi, and—here’s a fun one—brownie a la mustard.
Delhi Club House, Delhi
CUISINE: DELHI CLUB FOOD-INSPIRED
Indian cities have a unique club culture and the Delhi Club House menu is inspired by it. While the menu offers a host of dishes, each with a twist, the origin story is mentioned against each i.e. the club it hails from: Royal Madras Yacht Club, Calcutta Club, Amritsar Club, Byculla Club, etc.
UNIQUENESS: If you don’t have access to any of the premier clubs in the country, you know where to go to experience their food.
The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai
CUISINE: PROGRESSIVE INDIAN
When Bombay Canteen began, it was a chef’s ode to the city—the food back then was heavy on local influences that had been a part of Chefpreneur Floyd Cardoz’s life growing up. Four years and multiple awards later, this Instagram-friendly restaurant has emerged as the beacon to what India will eat tomorrow, thanks greatly to the Chef-partner Thomas Zacharias, who travels extensively to get new inspiration for the food, which is defined as ‘the chefs’ interpretation of our food tradition’.
UNIQUENESS: Seasonal, local and indigenous, the nosh at Bombay Canteen not only revives
Villa Maya, Thiruvananthapuram
We believe food should be a journey, and Villa Maya in Thiruvananthapuram agrees. Villa Maya, an upscale restaurant, is an 18th-century Dutch manor that subtly plays on all senses. Apart from Kerala food, they also serve Italian and Moroccan dishes, or food from any place that has had a historical connection to the state. The idea is to create an exhilarating experience through food—using the best of ingredients, exotic recipes and plating techniques.
UNIQUENESS: Spices are everything as Thiruvananthapuram has been a centre for spice trade for centuries. The presentation of food here is intricate and reminiscent of India’s rich cultural heritage. We also suggest you try the watalappan (a Sri Lankan dessert).
Ping’s Café Orient, Delhi
CUISINE: SOUTHEAST ASIAN STREET FOOD
We declare this with utmost disregard to diplomacy: If there is only one place on earth to have cream cheese dim sums, then it must be Ping’s. The restaurant, which describes itself as a ‘healthy and wholesome urban Asian Brasserie’, is in every Dilliwala’s secret handbook, for it never disappoints. The Southeast Asian child of Pass Code Hospitality (who own PCO, ATM Bistro, Jamun, Sazerac—each with its own legacy) doesn’t limit you to any one country. Within its red-toned walls in Lodhi Colony, it brings to you pork baos, punch- and pepper-packed Thai curries, the Indonesian favourite nasi goreng, meaty ramen, Hong Kong vendor noodles, and, of course, those succulent dim sums. Ping’s is now also open in Kolkata.
UNIQUENESS: Don’t make the error of gesticulating to place an order here. Press a switch near the table to turn on the bulb over your head. ‘Ping!’—and there comes the server.
The Lazy Goose, Goa
CUISINE: SEAFOOD AND GLOBAL
A tastefully decorated al fresco restaurant made to resemble a boathouse, The Lazy Goose’s idyllic location above Goa’s Nerul River is only one of the admirable things about the place. Then there’s the food, the likes of butter chilli garlic mud crab and not a single sub-standard dish. Add to these the live music and the many on-the-Nerul experiences. The cherry on top is the coming-of-age tale of owners Praveena and Rohan D’Souza, who frequently visited the river as children and dreamed of having a restaurant there. We’re glad their wish came true.
UNIQUENESS: One word: Nerul. It isn’t just the tropical setting, but also the experiences organised here—imagine a family retreat aboard a boat by the sunset, with a bottle of wine and a lavish spread.
The Hong Kong Club, Delhi
CUISINE: MODERN CANTONESE
You may ask where the difference lies among the many, many Chinese restaurants in the city and The Hong Kong Club. Well, for starters, the focus is on the Guanzhou region’s food; second, an extremely modern take on traditional Cantonese; and, the introduction of local produce in creating something sublime. The ambience is contemporary while the cocktails intriguing, Andaz Delhi’s The Hong Kong Club’s late-night timings have added to the allure.
UNIQUENESS: The space! Spread across two floors (over 290 covers) with private dining rooms, an island bar and open kitchens inside a glass structure in the middle of Andaz, it gives diners a wow factor.
Toast & Tonic, Bengaluru
CUISINE: MODERN EXPERIENTIAL
If there is one brand that defined ‘East Village-style’ for a plethora of diners, it is Toast & Tonic, famously abbreviated to T&T. Or as Chefpreneur Manu Chandra will put it, “a sum total of my journey as a chef”. The exclusivity of this place is in its unexpectedness—food mostly consists of Indian ingredients getting a global gear-up. Like the Southern American poke has crisp okra, buttery jimikand, sour cream, homemade sausage and shrimps. Not the one to compromise and unapologetic about its food, T&T makes its own sausages.
UNIQUENESS: The cheese platter that has specially crafted cheese from Chef Chandra’s company, Begum Victoria.
Spicy Duck, Delhi
CUISINE: CHINESE (CANTON AND SICHUAN REGIONS)
The duck is a symbol of happiness and freedom in Chinese culture. Taj Palace New Delhi’s Chinese restaurant tries to showcase the balance between traditional cooking and modern interpretations with much ease and elegance and, of course, the duck as the centrepiece. Opened in 2016, Spicy Duck also has plenty of other offerings (their dim sums are to die for and the sliced pork with chilli bean paste simply outstanding) but if you’re in the mood for duck, you know where to go.
UNIQUENESS: The Peking duck which is made fresh with much fanfare. The superior sauce, used with many proteins on the menu, is made in-house and is delicious.