If you’re looking to try some authentic Nepali cuisine as well as a number of comfort foods during your stint in Nepal, then Kathmandu Valley definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to having a variety of restaurants that offer a collection of native and specialty dishes. Nepalese cuisine isn’t popular yet on the international stage, it is often overpowered by its more headstrong neighbors, India and Tibet. However, don’t mistake this as complacency. Nepalese cuisine has been thriving as of late and you’ll be surprised that it now has a mix of old and new, traditional and fusion. Here are a few restaurants and food sites to try while you’re in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu.
1. Old Freak Street
Old Freak Street, formerly Freak Street or officially named Jhoche, was where the hashish and cannabis-loving hipsters of the 70s converged, including the Beatles and Cat Stevens. Today, Old Freak Street in the heart of Kathmandu is a shadow of its former self. However, what was a number of government-regulated cafes and smoking shops have now been turned into restaurants, coffee shops, souvenir shops, and a variety of other businesses. While it is overpowered by the rustic elegant feel of Thamel, just a 20-minute walk from Freak Street, it still pays to visit the old world charm where there are still a couple of sweet tea and pie shops to try.
The must-visit though, even to locals, is the Snowman Cafe, which serves simple homemade apple pie and chai. You can also try a serving of its famous chocolate cake. For coffee, go to Himalayan Java Coffee. The whole feel is a bit too European, but the staff and owners are Nepalese. Old Freak Street is where you’ll also find some nice street/home cooked dishes like the mass ko bara, lentils mixed with masala. It looks like Nepal’s version of a soft enchilada or an omelet. They can usually be found in a bhatti or small hole-in-the-walls in Old Freak Street.
Address: Jhochhen Rd, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Contact: +977 14246606
Facebook: Snowman Cafe
Now considered as the chosen tourist district in Kathmandu, Thamel offers a lot of affordable Nepali offerings. Thamel sort of has this labyrinthine feel to it, with a lot of alleys and side streets. A lot of the best restaurants in the area are tucked into these small side streets, so you’ll have to be patient and ask a lot of locals for help finding them. However, a whole number of them are worth it. The most prevalent however are probably the Momo shops. Momos are dumplings that are steamed over some sort of soup broth, which gives them that added flavor not usually found in typical dumplings. BK’s is one place that serves a filling momo meal for about 2 USD. You can also try other versions like the vegetable momos in Momo’s Cave and the Sumai Open Momo in Ghangri Cafe. If you like to sit outdoors instead of being cramped indoors, there’s Dharahara Momo with momos in Tapari served with pickles. For the ultimate momo lover, you can find Sadheko Momo in Bota Simply Momo. At this last restaurant, you can also try other Nepali dishes such as choila and bara.
Bota Simply Momo
Address: Patan 44700, Nepal
Contact: +977 9802055040
Facebook: Bota Simply Momo
Unlike the first two which are a collection of different restaurants, Bawarchi is actually just one restaurant that specializes in Tangra Chinese and Indian fusion dishes. Many attest that it has the best Indian food in Nepal. It prides itself in having the best Kolkata Katti Rolls. Other than these, you’ll also find the classic favorites like lassis, biryanis, dhals, and rottis. Bawarchi has already expanded, although most people still prefer going to their Lazimpat branch. If you don’t like the smell of spices mixing together, you can go out to their outdoor settings.
Address: टंक प्रसाद घुम्ती सडक, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Contact: +977 14263720
4. Wunjala Moskva
More than the food itself, locals go to Wunjala Moskva because of the ambiance. It is known as one of the best, if not the best, garden restaurant in Kathmandu. It has a number of small bungalows with an open courtyard in the middle. It’s also a welcome change if you’re looking for something other than Nepali cuisine. The Wunjala Moskva (as you may guess from its name) specializes in Russian cuisine including their specialties Chatanmari, Peroshki, Woh, and Chhwela. While you’re eating, the restaurant also offers entertainment in the form of dance, the Manjushree dance in particular, that highlights the Newar culture, the indigenous tribe of Kathmandu Valley. There’s ambient music played through the flute and dulcet timber.
Address: Opposite Police Headquarter Petrol Pump, Sama Marga, 44600, Nepal
Contact: +977 14415236
5. Mike’s Breakfast
#Dinner Special: Chicken Moroccon served with Gravy and choice of Rice "or" Mashed Potato / Steam Vegetables "or" Green...Posted by Mike's Breakfast on Saturday, 11 June 2016
They don’t exactly serve anything Nepali in origin, however if you’re craving for comfort food after a day of trekking or roaming around the capital, Mike’s Breakfast gives you a charming outdoor ambiance with checkered tablecloths, overlooking a neat little garden in a renovated Newar home. They also have a gallery called Indigo Gallery, with a cute number of paintings that are Newar in origin. The gallery also hosts a number of art events, which hopefully you can chance upon during your visit. Every person has a different take on comfort food. At Mike’s Breakfast, you can find American favorites like waffles, Mexican burritos, and Italian pasta and spaghetti.
Address: Opp. Grihini Department, Near Nepal Rastra Bank, Thirbam Sadak Kendriya Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Contact: +977 14424303
Facebook: Mike’s Breakfast
Unique food experiences to book:
The best way to get acquainted with a place is to hit the streets and sample the traditional fare. Known as the City of Temples, Kathmandu is not just hailed for its Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stuba, and Pashupatinath Temple, but also for its diverse street cuisine and hole-in-the-wall restaurants offering authentic Nepali experience. During your food crawl, taste the baras (lentil bread), samosas (savoury pastry), momos (dumpling), pani purri (deep-fried dough) and lassi (yogurt drink). What’s more, deepen your personal knowledge by knowing more about the restaurants and the food they serve straight from the owners themselves. Whether you choose gluten free or vegan option, a guaranteed visit to five famous stalls, your tummy will thank you for treat!
Secret Food Tour: Exposing the Locals' Best Hideouts
Price: 16 USD
Duration: 2 hours
Momos are the most popular snack in Nepal having its origin from Tibet. It is a bite-sized dumpling made from flour, filled with minced meat or vegetables, steamed or deep-fried, and served piping hot with fiery tomato sauce on the side for dipping. If you love them, why not make them? In Nepal, making momos is considered a great way to bond with family and friends. In a traditional gathering, guests help the host in filling the wrappers and folding momos while sharing conversation. In this workshop, learn about momos and make them from scratch. Try different pleating designs to make the momos more beautiful. The most common shapes are money bags, round or half-moon. Finally, cook them and eat them too! This course is suitable for all ages. You’re guaranteed to leave with a new set of skills and recipe to bring home. Choose between the vegetarian and meat-based options.
Cooking momos with home chefs
Price: 19 USD
Duration: 3 hours
Kathmandu is not just about the Nepali staple of daal bhat (rice and lentils). Start your day in the city with this breakfast food tour. Our local guide knows the best spots like the back of his hands. Scour through the vibrant alleys of Thamel and the ancient Durbar Square of Basantapu for a non-stop culinary indulgence. In this tour, gorge on specialty sweet treats such as sel roti (doughnut), malpuwa (pancake) and aloo puri (potato cake). Chomp down on gwara mari (traditional breakfast), and haluwa (from semolina flour). Hydrate yourself with a free-flowing drink of chai tea. It’s surely a morning that will satisfy your hunger!
Breakfast food tour
Price: 16 USD
Duration: 3 hours
A mouth-watering escapade
Nepalese food has been quite understated. Its neighbor, India, sort of steals the spotlight when it comes to a slew of rich flavors and cooking techniques. However, this is not to say that Kathmandu hasn’t started to explore and experiment when it comes to bringing out its identity through its cuisine. While Western restaurants and influences have entered it through the years, there seems to be a resilient spirit found in Nepalese cuisine that cannot be pushed to the side. For one last tip, the closest thing to a Nepali national dish is called the Dal Bhat, a serving of rice and lentil soup. If you have the time, look for it in small restaurants. You’ll find that, like the people, it is simple yet hearty. So, push the utensils aside, and dig in with your hands. It’s the only way to truly capture the spirit of the people through the cuisine.
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