We picked out Nepal for a holiday more out of convenience than anything else. We were anyway travelling to Siliguri, from where Kathmandu is a hop, skip and jump away. That and everywhere else we wanted to go, we were constrained by either the weather (hello, south-asian monsoons!) or the time we had (only a week!). Of course you know what food-fiends Hubs & I are, so finding good, veggie food was a really important dimension for us. In our heads, Nepal meant a surplus of momos, thukpa & wai-wai and not much else. Oh, but how wrong we were!
A quick search on TripAdvisor & Lonely Planet on the best places to eat in Nepal will give you a mind-boggling array of restaurants and cafés, serving everything from Middle Eastern mezze to Nepali dal bhaat. You would do well to bookmark a few places (with locations) before arriving in Nepal, if you’re internet connectivity is a question mark. During our 6-day stay in Nepal, we visited Kathmandu and Pokhara. We tried almost a dozen places across these towns and believe it or not, only one of them disappointed! That and the momos in Nepal; Hubs & I were so heartbroken with the mediocre momos!
Before we get into all the restaurants, I have to talk about Illy, the best cappuccino you will ever have and how I love Nepal for having it at every corner and café! It’s what kept us going through the trip and there really is nothing like sitting at a little café, sipping on a hot Illy cappuccino and watching the rain fall all around you. Here are some pictures from our trip!
And now, a list of our favourites (in no particular order) from each place!
Most of the places we went to are in Thamel, the bustling, main market of Kathmandu. We stayed at Radisson which is close enough, so almost every evening was spent walking around in Thamel, hunting for souvenirs and our next great meal.
Or2K – Quirky, kitschy and serving up fantastic (veggie!) Middle Eastern food, Or2K was our first meal in Nepal and what a start to the trip it was! To really enjoy the trippy ambience (they have dark lights!), go here for dinner – settle yourself down on their comfy floor cushions, order up a mezze platter and a couple of bottles of local beer and you’re all set! They do have no-fail comfort food (pizza, pasta etc.) but we suggest you go Middle East all the way. Special shout-out to their super friendly staff, free wifi and first-class tahini! Their portions are generous, so order with caution. We had the mezze platter and chilli fries (also yum) and had to struggle to finish!
Located at Thamel, off the Tridevi Sadak-Thamel Marg junction.
Roadhouse Café Boudha – We discovered this place while doing touristy things around the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu. We’d bookmarked the Thamel branch of this café but decided to eat here instead because the weather was just perfect and we had a great view of the Stupa from inside. And am I glad! Here, my dear friends, the creamiest tzatziki and softest pita bread in the whole world were had. Along with a divine wood-fired pizza and a lighter-than-air tiramisu (with a cherry compote)! Double thumbs up. Their menu has something for everyone!
Located at Boudhanath Stupa, take a turn to the right when you enter from the main gate and look up!
Northfield Café & Jesse James Bar – So we trudged into this cosy looking, open café and bar after a long walk around Thamel, looking for a light snack and cold, refreshing drinks. An American/ Mexican café, their menu was a mix of all-american favourites (almost all of which were non vegetarian) and the usual Mexican suspects (tacos, burritos, quesadillas etc.) We were in the mood for some comfort food, so we got the quesadillas (bean & veggie filling; they have chicken too) and a couple of mojitos, all of which were really delicious. It would be a massive oversight on my part if I didn’t mention their watermelon mojito separately – SO GOOD! We didn’t get to, but I would’ve really loved to go here for breakfast one day.
Located in Thamel, in the little Mandala market off the Tridevi Sadak-Thamel Marg junction.
La Dolce Vita – This was our last, most expensive and best meal of the trip! Walking around Thamel, you may not notice the neon sign during the day, but at night it’s difficult to miss! Quaint and so very Italian, this bistro charms with its rustic décor, friendly staff and top notch food. We had the assorted crostini, spinach-stuffed cannelloni and the most decadent chocolate torte. We also had Margaritas, which were way too strong and had to be diluted with lots of crushed ice! Of course, we ended our meal with a divine Illy cappuccino. Ah, life IS sweet! They also have terrace seating, free wifi and a charming little espresso bar. A must visit!
Located in Thamel, walk down straight off the Tridevi Sadak-Thamel Marg junction, spot the sign up on the right side.
Radisson Kathmandu – Okay, this is only because we stayed there and decided to order in for a night. But dear lord, did we have the best damn burger and fries! Of course you pay heftily, but that burger was worth every penny. It was massive, loaded with veggies/ condiments and came with a very generous side of fries. It was so big, Hubs & I had to share it. The penne with arrabiata sauce we’d also ordered had to be left half eaten.
Here, all the places we visited were along the Lakeside Market in Pokhara. They’re all on the main road and can be easily spotted as you walk around. The lakeside market is along a long and seemingly never ending road, littered with shops and restaurants all the way through.
Busy Bee Café – Easily our best night in Nepal! This was one of Hubs’ discoveries and our third stop of the night. The previous stops, a momo place & a charming café with awful food, left us largely wanting. Then thankfully, we stumbled into this crowded, noisy bar playing great live music. For a night on the town, this is where you go! It’s open air with a great selection of food and drinks. They also have sheesha (hookah) and pool! We were slightly full from our previous haunts, so we got just the tacos (which were pretty good) and a couple of drinks – definitely try the Bailey’s Blues, yum!
Olive Café – We went here for a little mid-morning snack & coffee. It’s a small, cosy café with indoor and outdoor seating and a menu that served usual café fare (some great non vegetarian options) but most importantly, served Illy! Their bruschetta was one of the best we’ve eaten, with juicy tomatoes, excellent bread and a generous drizzle of evoo. Even better, was their special Machhapuchhre Kiss dessert – an ice-cream cake, with a chocolate-filled biscuit base. Dreamy!
Caffe Concerto – This is one of the first cafés Hubs spotted at the lakeside. We had our last meal in Pokhara here. We went up to the first floor, which is homey and pleasant with its wooden furniture and rustic décor. This is an all-italian café, with lots of healthy options and a nice selection of both house and imported wines, which they serve by the glass as well. They also have a tempting display of desserts and gelato at the ground floor counter. We had a salad (I forget the name) and a panini wrap, both of which were fresh and flavourful. We also had a glass each of the house wine (passable) and affogato for dessert (mediocre). I do wish we’d chosen to have gelato instead!
I’ll leave you with only one piece of advice while visiting Nepal – walk, walk and walk some more! This is the only way you’ll discover the place and the amazing variety of food it has to offer!