Kathmandu is synonymous with climbing. But as you walk around the mud and stone roads, aromas hit you. When you look closer and explore down the narrow lanes that lead to hidden courtyards, you begin to discover that Kathmandu has an amazing restaurant scene. Nepalese food, coffee, bakeries, burgers, momos, lassi, the variety of a thali, it’s all here.
$$$ – Amazing thali breakfasts, crepes, burgers & staff.
Phat Khat is hidden down a lane which looks like you’re entering a souvenir store. It’s very deceptive. You’d never know it was there. It’s my favourite restaurant in Kathmandu and never disappoints.
You can hear the faint sound of reggae from outside as you walk up the stone stepped entrance. It looks more like you’re entering a lush jungle retreat. You can sit outside or inside on the cushioned floor with wood carved tables.
Everything on the menu is great at Phat Khat. You’ll need to come back a few times to explore it. Make sure you try the Phat Burger: a large juicy steak, bacon, egg and cheese burger with fries. Also, the breakfast thalis are to die for.
New Orleans Cafe
$$$ Beautiful setting with food to match
New Orleans Cafe is another hidden oasis located halfway down Mandala street or is accessible through an alleyway on Chaksibari Marg. The restaurant is setup in its own little outdoor square. There are tables in the square, or you can sit in the beautiful wood carved areas. It’s a popular and delicious hang out in Kathmandu. It comes a very close second to Phat Khat.
Their food matches their great setting too! Must trys are the Chicken Sandeko or Choie La Kathmandu. These are two spicy, sweet, and meaty Nepalese dishes.
Muktinath Thakali Kitchen
$$ The beat Dhal Bhaat in town
If you want to try traditional Nepalese food, this is the place to do it. Their thali (collection of dishes on a large plate) is the best in Kathmandu and consists of papad, cucumber, dry potato curry, cooked spinach, lental (dual) curry, dry lady finger curry, and a large dollop of rice (bhaat). This is what most of Nepal eats twice daily.
Mukinath Thakali Kitchen is a little far from the Thamel main strip but the 10-minute walk there is worth it.
If you’re not a big fan of rice, like me, then go for the roti dal bhaat meal instead. Spice up your dhal bhaat thali by adding a side of mutton or chicken curry.
Thamel House Restaurant
$$$ Mind blowing food and building
Thamel House Restaurant is an experience. It’s located inside an incredible 3 storey heritage villa at one end of the Thamel drag. The villa is simply spectacular. You can dine in it’s beautifully lit and large courtyard or on the first of second floors where all the seating is traditional Nepalese style (on cushions on the floor).
There’s only one thing to order here, the full course set meal. It’s a 3-course meal that takes you for a journey through Nepalese cuisine. From starters such as momos and soup to the main course of seven different dishes, and finishing with a thick and sweet yoghurt, called Shikarni, for dessert.
Don’t leave Kathmandu without treating yourself to a divine feast here.
$$ Great Nepalese food served cleanly and cheaply
Another Kathmandu favourite, Yangling serves the all the best dishes of Nepalese cuisine including Thukpa, Thenthuk, Chilli Moms, and various dishes such as Stir Fried Buff Chilly and Buff Sadheko.
As you enter the restaurant you can see into the clean Yangling kitchen where the chefs are busy cooking away. An open and visible kitchen is always a good sign! Too bad you can’t watch them cook too. You usually only get that at ritzy restaurants where the kitchen is part of the dining room.
Devour the Buff Chilli Momos (Momos covered in chilli sauce) with a plain Lassi to wash the chilli hit down.
Nepalese food is quite similar to Ladakhi food, find out more here.
$$$ Good Mexican food and atmosphere
One street over from Thamel Marg is the large outdoor dining Northfield Cafe. They serve good continental, Mexican, Nepali, and Indian food. But their Mexican enchiladas, burritos, and deep fried chimichangas are what they’re known for. It’s not authentic Mexican, but it’s a welcome change if you haven’t had Mexican food in a while.
Himalayan Java Coffee House
$$ Great coffee and drinks
If you love the smell of freshly brewed coffee and want to try the best beans in Kathmandu, go here. Their beans are grown 4000 meters above sea level in the Himalayas. Coffee just tastes different here, similar to the smooth taste of tea leaves grown at high altitudes.
Ok yeah, it’s a photo of tea… I’m a masala chai addict. I wouldn’t recommend ordering milk tea in Nepal though. Everywhere I went, they just used two tea bags with milk.
Places to avoid
The Burger House serves up very very average burgers. Go elsewhere for your burger fix.
Himalayan Arabica Beans had flies in their food cabinet. I only noticed after I’d eaten there, doh!