McLeodganj – Best Cafés and Restaurants in the Himalayas?

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).

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The solitude and hippie feels of Dharamkot.

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.

Check : 7 Days in (Little) Tibet – McLeodganj

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?

Illiterati Café

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. 🙂

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Time slows down at Café Illiterati in McLeodganj.

Peace Café

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.

Green Restaurant

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.

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Most cafés in hill stations have a written system for orders, it is very efficient and leaves no room for error.

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.

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Famous earlier as ‘Out of the blue’ for the best pizzas in India!

Morgan’s Place

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.

Namgyal Café

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.

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The happy sound of bells tinkling, with a gorgeous landscape for company.

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!

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Normally food doesn’t stand a chance to be clicked with me around, but here is a food photograph! 😉

Woeser 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!

Tibet Kitchen

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.

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Inside a café in McLeodganj : An absolute food lover’s delight.

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.

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Wood fired pizzas jostle for your attention in McLeodganj.

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 :

Ten foodie delights of Manali

My Favourite Eateries & Cafés in GoaMy Favourite Eateries & Cafés in Goa

Top Cafés and Restaurants in Leh

An insider’s guide to Cafés & Shopping in Shimla

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. R says:

    Wow! A very good compilation I must say ! During our trip to Mcleodganj, we loved the variety of pizzas at Nick’s Italian Kitchen. Mandala cafe was our favorite. They serve good muesli, thukpa and thick shakes. We savored on the fried momos at Snow Lion’s cafe. Oh yes, at Norbulingka, in Dharamasala we had good refreshing tea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words, R! Yes, the fried momos at Snow Lion Café are my favourite too!!! Love that with a book in hand and ginger lemon honey tea on the side. I didn’t particularly like Norbulingka eatery though; maybe it has changed over the years. 🙂

      Like

  2. Vibha Ravi says:

    A very handy guide indeed Shubham. Haven’t visited McLeodGanj yet though it’s on my list. Let’s see where 2016 takes me. All the best for your adventures too.

    Like

    1. Aww, hope you get to visit it soon Vibha. Happy 2017 to you to0. Cheers

      Like

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