Delhi's Metro is not only an ode to modernity, it also opens up much of the city to easier and faster exploration, bringing some of those formerly hard-to-reach foodie hotspots firmly onto the menu. We list the Metro stations best placed to be your gourmet gateways, moving north to south.
Chandni Chowk: Line 2
Jumping in right at the deep end, the classic Delhi food Mecca is the central street of old Delhi, Chandni Chowk. You emerge from the station straight into a world of chaos, noise, visual carnival and street food that will blow your mind. The entire road is packed with vendors who turn up daily, bringing their food semi-cooked in packs on their backs, and set up on a tripod or other temporary stand from where to sell their wares. Here you'll find the classic Punjabi favourite, chole kulcha, a spicy chickpea curry served with fluffy breads; samosas, which you can watch being stuffed on site; and jalebis, sugary sweet snowflake-like twirls of calorific sin. A unique food experience is cooking and eating in the Sikh temple, the Gurudwara Sis Ganj, just opposite the Metro exit. Here the kitchen, or langar, is staffed by volunteers who help churn out a few chapatis for the guests, from the needy and the religious to tourists and the curious.
Moving down the street, you will come to Parathewali Gali, the home of stuffed round doughy flatbreads cooked on hot griddles (and often deep-fried) and finished with a glop of ghee (clarified butter). Since the 1870s, this has been the place to come for these varied Punjabi masterpieces. Lassi is another Punjabi import that's a must-try: Amritsari Lassiwallah's thick, creamy rose-and-almond lassi is a great way to refresh yourself after the walk down the strip to Fatehpuri Masjid. Top it off by rounding the corner into Khari Baoli, the largest spice market in Asia, where you can pick up everything from peppercorns to pre-ground garam masala.
Chawri Bazaar: Line 2
Chawri Bazaar is not a stop for the faint of heart, but it is not something any self-respecting foodie can afford to miss. This is the Metro stop closest to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, and the area is also a meat-eater's paradise. It is here, in the congested back streets that you will find the restaurant food critics unanimously place among Delhi's best: Karim's. A shabby hole in the wall, it produces ethereal kebabs. Try the barra kebab for its succulent, tender lamb. If you are jet-lagged, try to get there early in the morning, when the streets are more negotiable, and enjoy the nihari before it runs out. This is a breakfast dish made from lamb shanks cooked overnight, that makes a full English fry-up look like a snack. Across the road you can try a version closer to the Pakistani original, which is made with beef (buffalo meat is used, keeping in mind the sensitivities of the Hindu population).
Patel Chowk: Line 2
After the grit and grime of Old Delhi, Patel Chowk is your stop for five-star eating in the heart of central Delhi. Two notable hotels closest to the station are the Shangri-La and the Imperial. The Shangri-La has a fabulous Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace, as well as one of the largest selections of wine by the glass to be found anywhere in the city.
Hype, one of the city's better known clubs, is also located next door, although the Metro trains will have long stopped running by the time you wish to return home.
The Imperial is one of the grand old Delhi hotels. The beautiful property is home to four of the city's top restaurants: San Gimignano, The Spice Route, 1911 and Patiala Peg. San Gimignano, with its fabulous array of cheeses, olive oils and fresh ingredients, is an ideal place for those missing light Italian dishes. The Spice Route, named one of the best restaurants in Asia by Condé Nast Traveller, tracks a spicy journey across south India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam and has some of the best Thai food in the city. 1911 is a killer place for a grand al fresco buffet lunch. Patiala Peg - the name comes from a Maharaja of Patiala who subverted his wife's ceiling of two pegs of Scotch a night by changing the law to make the measure more to his liking - still serves 75ml pegs instead of the usual 60ml, much to the approval of its many regulars.
Khan Market: Line 6
Come to Khan Market to see where the young upwardly mobile like to chow down. Amidst designer stores and wonky pavements, Khan Market hosts a number of iconic Delhi eateries. Khan Chacha is the home of chicken tikka rolls, the north Indian equivalent of the sandwich. If wicked dim sum in funky east Asian surroundings is more your thing, try Mamagoto, the hip café that looks like it fell out of a manga. Big Chill is a favourite with the younger crowd, but for more authentic Italian and killer coffee, try Amici.
INA: Line 2
While INA Market used to be the place to buy unusual imported foods, the interest has now shifted across the road to Dilli Haat. The front of the sprawling property is dedicated to craft stalls from across India, ideal for gift shopping, while behind are nestled stalls serving up food from each of India's states. Enjoy fermented soy beans, bamboo shoot and pork from Nagaland; momos, or little dumplings, from Sikkim; spicy fish curries from Bengal; dosas from Tamil Nadu, and tandoori paneer, a type of grilled cottage cheese, from Punjab. Ever popular with locals as well as tourists, Dilli Haat is a much-loved way to explore India in comfort.
Hauz Khas: Line 2
From the Hauz Khas metro station, jump into an auto-rickshaw and go straight to Hauz Khas Village, not more than a Rs 30 ride away. Here you'll find a quirky little community of artists and locals and innovative cafés where you can spend hours romantically pondering the beauty and mystery that is Delhi.
Amongst the little arty shops are to be found three gems of the Delhi dining scene. The Living Room, or TLR as it is affectionately known is a little boho cafe that morphs into a bar at night. Food is served, although little more than snacks, throughout the day, but it's after sundown that the place really comes into its own, with regular entertainment, from open-mike nights, to pub quizzes, all of which draw an interesting arty crowd.
Family favourite Pind Balluchi is called the "Park Balluci" for its location inside Hauz Khas deer park. The dishes here are Punjabi, this time from the Pakistan side of the border, and include great kebabs, paneer dishes, tandoor-cooked dishes and excellent, creamy dal makhani.
Saket: Line 2
When you've had enough of the fresh air, head for the malls of Saket in South Delhi. Located close to each other, Select Citywalk, DLF Place and MGF Metropolitan have a massive variety of restaurants and bars, from Turkish kebabs to the Hard Rock Café. Some top picks:
When you're craving sushi but don't want to pay through the nose, Sushiya at Select Citywalk is the perfect choice. It has all kinds of sushi and takeaway meal boxes as well. Also at Select Citywalk is Yum Yum Cha whose dim sum and sushi come highly recommended. At MGF mall next door Lighthouse 13 is full of trendy young things partying the night away.
Two classic places in which to experience north Indian food. Renowned chef Jiggs Kalra's Punjab Grill takes kebabs and curries to the highest level. More easygoing is the Great Kebab Factory, where one price buys all-you-can-eat kebabs. Great on the wallet, if not the waistline.
Qutub Minar: Line 2
The Qutub Minar is well known as a spectacular 72.5-metre minaret, the largest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the outskirts of South Delhi. A stone's throw away, in and around an old refurbished development called One Style Mile, you will find Olive Mehrauli, a romantic and fashionable Mediterranean restaurant. Spread over two indoor areas, a gorgeous outdoor courtyard, and a laidback bar, Olive, by restaurateur extraordinaire AD Singh, is the place to see and be seen. You can expect excellent wood-fire-oven pizzas, pastas, and some more innovative fare, along with great cocktails and an extensive wine list.
Arjangarh: Line 2
Tucked away at the back of Global Business Park is L'Angoor has straight-out-of- Wallpaper interiors and an obsession with wine. The chef and the sommelier work together to present innovative dishes from around the world with a new-American slant. Must-try: the seafood.
Next door, you will find China Club, which does Chinese dishes spanning from the classic dim sum brunch to the decidedly Indianised spicy Sichuan dishes. If you're on your way to Gurgaon, this is a great place to stop off and eat.
We could go on and on. But the Metro, too, comes to a halt at some point.