A night out isn’t just about eating good food and savouring good wine. What matters is the overall experience of a place, including the ambience and the crowd. The hospitality sector in Delhi has been seriously affected by this idea, as becomes evident by the number of themed cafés and clubs cropping up across, and around, the national capital. 

Mother India, a restaurant situated in Delhi’s Connaught Place, has vintage decor as its main theme. The setting showcases pictures of some prominent film personalities, including Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajesh Khanna, and so on. The posters on their walls and take you to another dimension altogether, away from the fast-paced life of the national capital, to a peaceful cinematic era.  One can easily sense the creativity woven into the ambience of this retro-styled restaurant, where old film posters jostle for space against vintage art objects and elegantly weathered paintings.

“Attention to detail is visible when you look at the eclectic collection of pieces inside the restaurant,” says Nandini Nneeraj Basoya, owner of the restaurant. “The interiors of the space stimulate and awaken the senses as one experiences the feel of an old, vintage Indian home. The unique design features Indian memorabilia, black-and-white family style photographs and artefacts, travel souvenirs and antique furniture that give the space a nostalgic vibe.”

Another unique theme-based property in the city doesn’t have anything to do with Delhi per se. It transports us to the holiday capital, Goa. TabulaBeach Café, near Sirifort Auditorium, is ideal for those who wish to recollect their days sunbathing on a Goan beach. This beach-styled café makes use of lots of sand and blue hammocks, with a wide array of seafood, to give you a taste of Goa right here in Delhi.

“TabulaBeach is the first ever beach-themed restaurant in Delhi. The vision behind this restaurant was to create an easy, laid-back atmosphere wherein you can chill with your friends and family, leaving your worries behind. From lazy ‘al fresco’ lunches soaked in acoustic music, to spirited dinners in the evenings followed by dancing to some of the most invigorating music, this is a space that transitions across various moods,” said Sahil Gupta, co-owner of TabulaBeach Café.

When the subject is themed cafés, there’s no way we can overlook the famous Junkyard Café. The property shows how junk can be utilised for interior decor, and that too in the most beautiful way. The vibe you get here is grungy, contemporary and at the same time very exclusive.

“There are many visually stunning elements at the Junkyard Café: pillars with barrels, old looking khidkis and multi-coloured drawers, wings on walls for pictorial sites, an old bike for pictures, sofas with chipboards, live stage with two private VIP zones, and endless other features as well,” says Umang Tewari, the owner of Junkyard Café.

If junk isn’t really your joint, there are alternatives aplenty. Time Machine, a newly opened restro-bar is styled along the once-popular steam-punk concept.  The place is decorated with kinetic objects, mechanical gears and sparse lighting. The walls have murals depicting scenes of time travel. “At Time Machine, we have various private dining areas with every corner telling a different story, yet remaining true to the theme. Every nook and corner of the outlet is embellished with aspects depicting time travel”, says Charu Vashisht Sahni, owner, Time Machine.

Now travelling backwards in time, to the medieval era, we reach Lord of the Drinks, a medieval-themed brewery with one of its many branches in Gurgaon’s sector 29. The touch of wood around the room finishes the look of the place, not to forget the strange chandeliers. 

“Its food and interiors are the features to highlight, since Lord of the Drinks always carries its own set of interiors, different from most others. Embellished by Aztec sofas and tribal lanterns, the outlet is set in the medieval era that gives you a great dining experience,” says Priyank Sukhija, MD and CEO, First Fiddle Restaurants, which owns Lord of the Drinks.

Another standout property in the national capital is the Chez Jerome Q Café, the city’s only LGBT café. The rooftop section here offers panoramic views of the iconic Qutb Minar. The place, which is famous for its queer-friendly atmosphere, hosts live music evenings. The stage is open also for those who want to share their life experiences, through poetry, art or an impromptu speech.

Depot48, at GK-I in Delhi, is another music-themed café that organises Pink Tuesdays, as welcoming gesture to the LGBT community. “The idea struck me when I realised that the LGBTQI community does not have an actual hangout place, where they can feel comfortable coming out of the shadows without fear of being judged. Therefore, we started doing Pink Tuesdays where there is no entry fee and anyone and everyone can come to the place, interact, have drinks and chill. On Tuesdays, we have happy hours all day. We also organise some performances by artistes from the LGBT community. These include plays, live music and dance,” says Vikas Narula, owner, Depot48.

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