Tucked away in a shaded lane, off Paharganj’s main street, Everest Café is total hippy. It looks shabby, feels cool. Wicker chairs, low tables occupy a space so small that you find yourself squeezing against half-naked backpackers. But no matter how cramp the café is, the dim lamps make you relaxed and sleepy. Even stray dogs come in here to take a nap.
Popular among backpackers, different languages twitter together in the thick air of Everest Café turning it into a sort of UN canteen. However, since the owner is Nepali, the house music is usually the Nepali-language songs of love and longing. There’s also a Kathmandu newspaper with headlines of the 2001 royal family massacre framed on the wall.
No wonder then that there’s Nepali thali (as well as Yak cheese) on the menu but if it’s summer, order green salad (Rs 45) first. Spread on a bed of wet lettuce leaves, fresh vegetables come tossed with sesame seed in a yogurt dressing (mayonnaise added on request). For the main course, try lemon grilled chicken (Rs 130).
The chicken’s greasiness strikes a fine balance with mashed potatoes. Don’t miss vegetable momos (Rs 50). The dumplings are delicate and the sauce, rather than the usual red chilli paste, is sesame-flavoured that ups the stuffing’s taste. For the dessert, try chocolate cake (Rs 40). It’s a crumbly slice with a crusty top and, thankfully, it lacks that boring melt-in-the-mouth uniformity found in most of Delhi’s hip bakeries.
Finally, wash the cake down with ginger honey tea. If you are a reading type, Lonely Planets are stacked at one corner. Talking of books, one of the chapters in Sam Miller’s Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity opens with Everest Café. Where House no. 4591, Dal Mandi, , Paharganj Ph 2358-4390 Since 2000 Open daily from 7am - 11pm