McLeodganj as a getaway has everything going for it in the past decade or so. New age spiritual seekers have long been attracted to the zen-like calmness of the Buddhist monks. Dharamsala is the home of Dalai Lama and the headquarters of the Tibetan Government-in-exile. McLeodganj is 12 kilometres away from Dharamsala (Pronounced Dharamshala).
As a tourist destination, Dharamsala is perfectly located at the foothills of the Himalayas ensuring the weather is pleasant in the summer, and isn’t extremely cold even in the winter. It is close to Punjab, Delhi & Chandigarh and probably that and the presence of foreigners has combined to create a problem of plenty.
A lot of foreigners come to Dharamsala to learn about Buddhist religion and quite a few of them are long term stayers. There are lovely small hikes in the woods nearby, one of the best meditation centres in India (Tusita); and the heady hippie feel in Dharamkot. It seems there is something for everyone, here in Dharamsala. It lies in Kangra district.
A part of this was experienced 2-3 years ago, and some eateries were visited in the recent past.
Where to eat in McLeodganj?
Away from the humdrum and cramped spaces of the narrow lanes of main McLeodganj, café Illiterati is nestled in a quiet corner. One can spend an entire day reading books in this picturesque book cafe with a fine view of the mountains. Also, this place is owned by a European couple and does excellent food too. 🙂
This is a little café on Jogiwara road (Jogibara) with packed tables always makes for a top place to eat. Monks sit beside us nonchalantly, enjoying the excellent Tibetan dishes on offer. It is reasonable on the pocket too.
In cricket parlance, Green Restaurant could be called an all rounder! Head here for amazing breakfasts, with filtering sunrays and pretty flowers for company. It is a great place to begin your day in McLeodganj.
Moonpeak Espresso & Mandala Café
While the coffee at both these places is top notch; Moonpeak does a nice Himachali Thali as well. It is delicately balanced with subtle flavours. The adjacent Mandala café could be mistaken for a Parisian café with outdoor seating and is excellent to sip darjeeling tea while watching the world go by.
The Chocolate Log
The chocolate log is a quaint English cafe has been serving some amazing desserts reputedly for over 3 decades! It is a pretty hut run by a cute couple, and has some fine varieties of home-made wine priced at 500 Rupees per bottle.
Famous earlier for the best pizzas in Dharamkot by the name of ‘Out of the blue‘, Morgan’s Place does a mean pizza. Located around 2-3 kms from McLeodganj, it is a lovely idea to walk there and savour brunch/lunch with incredible views of the mountains. Wood fired pizzas are their speciality.
Tibetan food lovers should head out to this place without a second thought. Namgyal Café used to be in the compound of the Dalai Lama Temple earlier, but now is located inside Om Hotel. Eat your breakfast in peace while watching the kids rushing off to school in their dapper red sweaters and monkey caps. While I didn’t try the wood fire pizza, the owners claimed it to be the best in entire McLeodganj.
Snow Lion Cafe
A cozy place to go when it rains in McLeodganj. Snow Lion Café is an indoor establishment, its highlight is the unpretentious homely and busy feel and yet very peaceful. There is a useful bookshelf and perhaps the best Ginger Lemon Honey Tea in McLeodganj.
Tibet Quality Bakery
A small box shaped shop on Jogiwara Road, Tibet Quality Bakery has affordable and awesome bakes, and a huge variety of them. There are no options to sit here and you are supposed to takeaway your orders or stand and eat! A chief reason for me gaining weight when I was in McLeodganj were the continuous raids on this little bakery!
It is easy to miss the Woeser Bakery on the awfully busy Jogiwara Road. Located just below the Black Magic Café, this small place has excellent bakes and great coffee. Plus with a German sounding name, you can’t really go wrong!
McLeodganj’s answer to the fine dine restaurants of North India, Tibet Kitchen has charming wooden interiors, and is spread across 3 floors. The Tibetan food is to die for and there are tasty dishes like Tenthuk and Gyathuk. It is conveniently located on Jogiwara Road near the main square but may require reservation as the place is almost always full at any given time.
Nick’s Italian Kitchen
Located on Bhagsu road, Nick’s Italian restaurant is located in the open air extension of Kunga Guest House. I strongly recommend the chocolate mousse here, with the spectacular ambience – views of snowy peaks visible right from your table. There is ample space to put your feet up and spend a lazy day at Nick’s reading a book.
The locals also suggested other eateries like Carpe Diem, Lung Ta and Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen and due to reasons unknown I couldn’t try them out. One evening when everyone else was lazy to walk to Dharamkot, we ate a pizza at Clay Oven and found it to be a very nice place close to the main square.
Also, sometimes you yearn for simple adrak chai and dal roti. Homesick Indians will like food at the conveniently located Bharat Dhaba.
If you liked this one and want to check my other food recommendations :