Delhi may have extended its arms into Haryana and UP, but the old-world charm of the city remains and flourishes in Cannaught Place (CP for Dilliwallas). The heart of the city, if one may say so, still lies in the sprawling neighbourhood of Purani Delhi, CP among many other places.
While CP may have developed a great food culture over the decades with some traditional setups doing great business and carrying their legacy forward, many closed down or bowed out to make way for new ideas of the time.
Cafe Hawkers on Radial Road next to Odeon complex is one such new place to not just splurge your pocket on weekends to get drunk only, but also to try some quality food especially curated keeping in mind the street food culture of India and the changing culinary taste of the millennial.
Owned by a brother duo, the restaurant has been visited by the likes of actor Shakti Kapoor. Cafe Hawkers and Gola Sizzlers is part of the brand chain that the Kapoor brothers run across the capital city with a monthly traffic so great that they feel no need to have student discounts or discounts of any kind, corporate chef of the chain, Ravikant explained.
Cafe Hawkers is popular for its Mexican and Lebanese food platter, offering a variety of dishes from the region but with a desi street twist to suit the Indian taste.
Their Butter Chicken Pizza and Smoked Chicken Pizza are the non-veg specials and for vegetarians, the Pao Bhaji Pizza is a must try. To cater to vegetarians, the restaurant offers veg pastas mostly (ever heard that before?) and to add non-vegetarian toppings, one has to tell the staff before.
As part of the vegetarian minority, I began my culinary delight journey with starters that included Hawkers’ special Baked Nachos, Quesadilla and a light summer drink – Kiwi Delight.
The quantity is in plus the standard amounts, so please order accordingly.
Baked Nachos is a staple starter food everywhere. However, what was different here was the Mexican bean addition along with a spicy blend of jalapenos. For what it’s worth, the dish is a must try.
Quesadilla with an Indian blend has a filling of Mexican beans again, paneer and capsicum. The stuffing reminded me of Kathi rolls but the tortilla base was well prepared and lent an authentic feel to the dish. The best part, however, was the dressing that was served as accompaniment.
Shredded avocado with sour cream and salsa sauce completed the dish which tasted even better if you mixed all the three and dipped your quesadilla in it.
Cafe Hawkers’ does not specialize in the drinks menu, offering a mid-level range of popular summer coolers and alcoholic drinks. Despite that, their Kiwi Delight is great: a crushed ice colourful mix of blackcurrant-with cranberry juice filling and kiwi-orange juice filling. The blend is so good that you can have it without stirring it from each side, or savour it slowly by mixing the two flavours.
There are also a variety of other options in the vegetarian section in the starters menu. A healthy vegetable platter with boiled and sizzled vegetables is a good alternative and so is the Mexican Fajita Sizzler. Both staple dishes are equally popular among regulars.
Another noticeable detail in between the starters and the main course was the architecture of the place. The Cafe culture was visible in its portraits, wooden door and a vintage telephone at the entrance.
The Hawker part of the ambience is visible when you sit down to eat. The table and chairs are of steel, boarder room type. Old-school and the artificial grass background give an earthy feel to the whole setup.
As part of the main course, I decided to ditch North-Indian cuisine and go along with the special Pao Bhaoji Pizza and Redi (cart) wala Burger.
The Pao Bhaji Pizza was a 14-inch thin crust body with a fusion of cheese and taste of bhaji. The presence of Bhaji was subtle and never quite there. The base could have been worked upon better.
The Redi Wala Burger literally served on a Redi is nothing but the cult-favourite Bun-Tikki. Though, the latter tastes much better, the burger could have been something more than just that. It tasted bland, was overstuffed but went well with the Kimchi salad dressing and potato chips.
In the smoothies and shakes section, I tried a special Espresso Oreo Shake that tasted just like cold coffee.
After finishing my interaction with the chef and the hospitable team, that did its best on a mostly busy Saturday to acquaint me with their food culture, I ordered a Fresh Lime Soda (salted) to get all of it through.
The Waffles section was the next, but my appetite was satisfied by then. Perhaps, a dessert crave some other day will let me reach the dessert section, hopefully.
Price: Rs 1200 for two (approx.)
Place: Cafe Hawkers, Radial Road, CP