After the rigours of high altitude and utter disbelief at the sight of the lakes and valleys, it is time to take it easy and relish these delights. After all, for most people – A trip to Ladakh is a once in a lifetime trip.
This lovely garden place with candles and lanterns is adept in the art of making sumptuous Italian fare. Thin-crust wood fired pizzas are delicious at La Piazzetta.
This warm place is open till late and is a great way to spend a slow evening in Leh.
Pumpernickel German Bakery
Located just off Zangsti Road, Pumpernickel is one of the oldest bakeries in Leh and is owned by a Sardarji. It makes some of the most delicious apple pies, croissants, cinnamon rolls and coffee cakes and is one of the oldest establishments in Leh, even before Indian tourists started coming. My personal favourite is the apple crumble and choco danish washed down with mint tea.
Leh is affectionately called ‘Little Lhasa’, Tibetan Kitchen at fort road is an authentic place to try Tibetan/Ladakhi food while in the land of high passes. Although it can be really packed in high season, still it is a lovely place to try the various kinds of momos and thukpa.
One of the very few places where you can order a Tibetan hot pot or ‘Gyakko’ and watch it arrive with much fanfare with sides of rice, tingmo (steamed buns) and salad. A slice of Tibet in India. Try and get a table in the open for an even more elaborate experience.
Although garden restaurants are dime a dozen in Leh, Open Hand does it with aplomb. There is freshly grown cabbage, spinach and other veggies with a paved patio and a dog for company.
Open Hand has a branch in Varanasi too. There is lovely outdoor seating and some delightful interiors inside – full of bright, cheerful art. Try their pancakes topped in abundant chocolate, banana or apricot desserts and apple crumble.
Yama Coffee House
The go-to place for coffee lovers on Changspa road, grab a hot cuppa and nibble on a quaint selection of homemade cheese. This is a warm and simple café for a light snack on this traveller favourite street, in relative peace.
Lala’s Art Cafe
The charming Lala’s Café is in the bylanes of the dilapidated old part of Leh and is is housed in a restored Ladakhi house. Lala’s cafe was restored by German conservator Patrick Jürgens in 2008 as a part of the LOTI (Leh Old Town Initiative); an attempt at saving old Ladakh. In the front is a nine-foot Maitreya in local granite excavated long ago, and restored in 2008.
It serves Ladakhi butter tea and great coffee in various levels of seating. The first floor is a traditional Ladakhi home with a small stairwell and low seating on chogtse tables. The higher floor is a little terrace with glorious views of Leh Palace. Sitting here and watching time waft by is like walking through centuries of history. Their homemade burger is a winner.
The chic-est restaurant in Leh, with beautifully lit interiors is a fine dine option for pan Asian food. It has been a favourite for many years and is widely considered the best for Chinese & Thai food. The elegant terrace is the perfect spot to sample chilli garlic noodles and Thai green curry.
When you are tired of thukpa, momo and other European food and are yearning for a taste of India, Lamayuru Restaurant near ‘shabby’ Gesmo is the best bet. It is thick in the middle of the action at a busy intersection of Fort road and a reliable choice for the homesick (even for those looking for vegetarian food in Leh.)
An authentic restaurant serving delicious Kashmiri Wazwaan food in the heart of Ladakh; the owners hail from Srinagar and everything from the gushtaba, yakhni, rogan josh with Kashmiri Naan and biryani, is finger licking good. There are locals and Kashmiri traders here, and they all come here for one thing : Proper and delectable Kashmiri food. It is in Leh’s main bazaar, ask around and the locals will direct you to the right place! (There’s another not so good Kashmiri wazaawn restaurant nearby.)
Wok Tibetan Kitchen
A local Ladakhi favourite located bang on the main bazaar road in Leh. Everything from Tenthuk, Gyathuk to Thukpa and momos is freshly made. You just can’t go wrong with this one. Another of those places where the locals take you to watch life and caravans of yore go past on the pedestrian only mall road.
Leh’s current favourite is a place that hardly any people know about. You need to walk a bit through some little lanes until you arrive at Bon Appetit. Aside from the excellent food, the place also has an outstanding view of the mountains around Leh. Do not miss the excellent chocolate momos.
This is Ladakh’s best fine dining, located in a by-lane of Moravian Mission School on Changspa road. Memories of a legendary evening with heartily made European food will warm your soul for years to come, dinner is the best time to be at Bon Appetit.
KC Garden Restaurant
Located on the crowded Changspa road, is one of Leh’s best spots for a chilled beer. It had an oxygen bar many years ago (as its initial claim to fame.)
There are bonfires in the evening and the setting of a garden is icing on the cake with good Indian food.
Some more notable good choices can be Penguin Garden Restaurant and World Garden Café and a Ladakhi delight ‘Dzomsa’, for traditional breakfasts.
No visit to Leh is complete if you haven’t bought bread from the wood-fired tandoori bakeries near Jama Masjid in the Old Town behind the Central Asian Museum. Only for Rupees 4 – Fresh, warm and cheap – digging your hand into one is like having a slice of the rich history of Ladakh, most of the bread makers are from Kargil.
Street food scene in Leh is pretty evolved : There are many kebab sellers on the streets that are adept at making melt-in-your-mouth kebabs. Go for a stroll and check the colours at the vegetable market in Leh full of fresh produce. Haggle and hug the wrinkled apricot sellers on the pavements near the market. They make Ladakh what it is!
For cheap and authentic Tibetan fare, there are some dhabas near the women’s hostel on the main road – there are 2 of them run by Khampas and even if the place is not very pretty, the food is something to remember.
Oh, but who comes to Ladakh to eat! Go ahead, you have earned it after having roughed it out in the wilderness.
Note : This is not a sponsored post.