No visit to a foreign country is complete without sampling the local cuisine – and the same principle applies to Nepal. Sure, a lot of tourists visit the country to trek or to hike, but just because you are visiting Nepal for its mountains does not mean that you have to skip enjoying the local food scene altogether.
Whether you want to sample local cuisine or enjoy international dishes, Nepali restaurants have something special cooked up for you. So if a food trip is still not in your itinerary, you would probably want to finish reading this article first and reconsider.
What are some of the best restaurants in Nepal?
For tourists and first-time visitors, I highly recommend trying out restaurants offering local cuisine first. But just in case you find yourself craving international dishes, do not worry because Nepal has you covered. Here is a handful of the best restaurants in Nepal as of date:
1) Utse Restaurant
Located in Hotel Utse in Kathmandu, the Utse Restaurant is famous for serving traditional Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine. It is a great choice for vegetarians, vegans, and individuals on a gluten-free diet, and equally popular among individuals without nay dietary restrictions. Among the restaurant’s specialty is gacok, a local version of the hot pot with generous helpings of meat, vegetables, and noodles. Aside from the gacok, the restaurant also serves other Nepalese delicacies such as momos, meat or vegetable-stuffed dumplings, and tongba (a hot alcoholic drink perfect for colder days). The Utse is as close to Nepal as one can get, from its menu to its authentic interior design.
Another hotel restaurant worth visiting is the Krishnarpan, located at the Dwarika’s Hotel. Like the Utse, Krishnarpan serves authentic Nepalese cuisine, albeit the restaurant is a little bit more upscale and the dining experience is towards the slow dining side. The dishes are all made from ingredients grown in Dwarika’s organic farms, so you can be guaranteed that everything is fresh. One notable feature of Krishnarpan is its traditional dining experience wherein guests sit on cushions on the floor before low tables. Meals can run anywhere from six to 22 courses, depending on the preferences of the diner. That said, guests can certainly try the restaurant’s offering of local dishes like tareko (spiced grilled wild boar) and kukhura ko masu (the Nepalese version of chicken curry).
For those who want to enjoy authentic Newari fare against a backdrop of a rich history, then the BhojanGriha is the restaurant to be. The building alone is worth visiting, it dating over 150 years old and formerly housing the royal priest to the King of Nepal. But BhojanGriha is as much about its food offerings as it is about history. Here, you can sample Newari dishes made from local, organic produce such as the jhaneko mas ko dal with sadabhuja and the sikarni, a famous Nepalese dessert.
4) Saigon Pho
If you are craving for Vietnamense cuisine, then look no further than Saigon Pho, situated right across the Shangri-La Hotel. The interiors of the restaurant is decorated in a distinctive traditional Vietnamese fashion and the second-floor terrace provides diners with a spectacular view of Lazimpat. The menu is as authentic as it can get, having been prepared by Vietnamese chefs. If you do stop by, do not forget to try the pho and the green watermelon salad.
5) El Mediterraneo
If you ever find yourself craving for some Mediterranean food fare, then this Spanish-themed restaurant in Patan is a must-try for you. Prepare to feast on a variety of authentic Spanish dishes, ranging from gazpacho and paellas to chicken with pisto (Spanish stew) and natillas (Spanish custard dessert). If you are looking for Spanish cuisine with a twist, you also have to look no further since the restaurant offers fusion cuisine, specifically Mediterranean dishes adapted to suit the local taste buds. Even the interiors of the restaurant is very Mediterranean, with a homely, relaxing vibe and very friendly staff.
6) Le Sherpa
More on the international cuisine side of the Nepali food scene is Le Sherpa, a restaurant that prides on its European dishes served with Sherpa hospitality. Located in Kathmandu, this restaurant is all about the charming courtyard and gardens, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the city. Due to the restaurant’s intimidate dining space and outdoor seating arrangements, it has been a quick favorite among diners who want to wind down after a long day. Its European menu offer various scrumptious dishes such as the slow-roasted pork belly and the homemade braised rabbit ravioli.
7) Café Soma
If you are looking for something light, then you ought to stop by one of Nepal’s numerous cafes. Café Soma is particularly noteworthy, with its wooden floors and European-style bookshelves. The café is for the most part reminiscent of European delis – but with a Nepali touch. The café serves various soups, salad, sandwiches and even burgers, and the chiya (a traditional Nepali tea) is a definite must-try. the café also hosts exhibits for local artists, so it is also a great opportunity to discover the local art scene.
Nepal has no shortage of amazing restaurants. Kathmandu alone should keep you busy with its plethora of cafes and restaurants serving not only traditional Nepali dishes but also authentic international cuisine. If you are on a budget and want to sample local dishes without shelling out so much cash, you might want to opt for local food stalls and joints instead of dining at restaurants every night.
However, if you have a little more cash to spare (and dining in Nepal is not as expensive as in other countries), then I highly recommend checking out these seven top-rated restaurants in the country. The menu, along with the overall dining experience, will certainly help you in gaining better appreciation of Nepal and of your stay in the country as a whole. And as a bonus, these are also great spots for meeting fellow travelers.