I spent weeks in Kathmandu trying all the little hole-in-the-wall khaja ghars (snack houses) and all the top-rated restaurants to bring you this list of the most authentic cheap eats.
I found that most food blogs focused on the tourist traps in Kathmandu. So I spent a lot of time looking for authentic alternatives (some aren’t even on Google Maps!).
I also have the considerable benefit of being able to read Nepali. Some of the places in this list a foreign tourist would never enter because their signs are in Nepali. Those stores are where you find authentic homecooked Nepali food.
My favourite places to eat in Kathmandu
Norling Tibetan Restaurant (Thamel)
Norling Tibetan Restaurant is a local favourite. Every time I ate there, I was the only foreigner there.
I was pleased by how clean and super tasty Norling is. It’s on the second floor, and the wind blows in.
Their Masala Papad is excellent, and their Chicken Jhol Momo is a soup with green onion and chilli. Don’t miss trying both.
The only warning is, this place is hot as hell. It was the hottest food I had during my time in Nepal. But so worth it!
Western Tandoori (Thamel)
After trying so much average food in Kathmandu for this blog, I was finally recommended the Western Tandoori & Naan House. It restored my hope!
This small restaurant, with a massive tandoor oven out front, and a tiny kitchen out back, is run by 4 brothers who cook and serve, and their parents who man the till.
They’re known for their bread, so experiment with the different naan on the menu and you can’t go wrong with any other items there. Their Chilli Paneer, Chana Masala, Chicken Biryani, and Onion Naan are my favourites.
They open around 8am and run till late.
Bhedasingh Khaja Ghar (Thamel)
Bhedasingh Khaja Ghar (Snack House) is named after the Bhedasingh intersection next to it. It’s family-run and they simple and cheap Nepali food. They open at 7am and close around dinner time. It’s my go-to breakfast spot.
Try their chiya (milk tea, chai) and unde paratha (pan-fried bread with egg). A plate of chana (black chickpeas) goes well with paratha.
You would’ve noticed in the photos that their signs are in Nepali. But don’t let it scare you. The family running it are very friendly and will help you order. There’s usually English-speaking people eating there who will be happy to help you too.
Sudeeksha Paratha Ghar (Pakanajol)
If you want some good old fashioned Indian style paratha (pan-fried stuffed wholemeal bread) for breakfast, Sudeeksha Paratha Ghar is the place to go.
Like Bhedasingh, it’s also a snack house with a husband and wife preparing fresh paratha, chickpea curry, chai, and coffee – the staples of North Indian breakfast.
Chikusa Café (Thamel)
Cafe Chikusa is a fantastic little coffee shop with great sandwiches! My French chef friend brought me here for lunch, and he scored big time with this find.
Try the Banana, Peanut Butter, Honey sandwich. Their tea is great, and they even sell it by the teapot full too.
Inside, the cafe has this traditional wood look and there’s a smoking area out back too. Food-wise, everything is cooked fresh in front of you on the bartop and it’s always a good sign when I see a small menu that’s cooked well.
If you want the comforts of home with 0 spice, this is the best all-day breakfast spot in Kathmandu.
Yangling Tibetan Restaurant (Thamel)
We changed hostels and Yangling Tibetan Restaurant became our go-to lunch spot for freshly prepared momos, fried rice, chowmein, and just snacks in general. Their banana lassi was also a standout!
Besides having delicious food with no-too-hot chilli flavours, you can see in and see how clean their kitchen is. That’s always an excellent sign for me.
Ever Fresh Cafe & Bakery (Maharagunj)
Right next door to Ever Fresh are two stores that sell products from different homegrown Nepali brands.
If you want to splurge or impress a date, the Le Sherpa fine dining restaurant is there too.
Kungfu Noodles (Thamel)
While exploring Thamel I stumbled upon Kungfu Noodles. The kitchen was spotless and the menu was all new to me. I’m no Chinese food expert, but all three of us eating loved our meals.
Try #1 Kungfu Noodle Special, #3 Noodles Sichuan Style, and #14 Noodles Wuhan Style.
I know it’s authentic because while eating my hot-as-hell bowl of Buffalo Mince Sichuan Noodles, I met two Nepali guys who work in China. They told me it’s exactly the same, except it’s twice the price.
Chaat House (Labim Mall)
If you’ve ever seen Nepalis standing around a man on the street serving them little shells full of potato, chickpeas, and spicy and sweet water, then this is what Chaat House specialises in!
At Chaat House you can try all the favourite vegetarian street food dishes, except unlike on the street, where they’re hygienically prepared.
Share a Pani Puri (shells filled with potato, black chickpeas, spices, and sweet and sour water) and a Dahi Puri (shells filled with the same but instead of water they use yoghurt and they garnish it up).
Paru Thakali Kitchen (Thamel)
My favourite chicken steamed momos were just रु200 for a large filling plate – they don’t skimp on the filling either! The secret sauce they serve alongside is delicious too.
Hermann Helmers German Bakery (Lalitpur)
Hermann Helmer’s German Bakery is one of the most famous bakeries in Lalitpur (6 km from Kathmandu), having been around since 1978. Although not really a “German” bakery, it is perfect for baked goods and fresh bread.
Himalayan Java Coffee (Thamel)
Himalayan Java Coffee is a Nepali coffee shop with 30 stores worldwide. Their beans are grown and roasted locally. They do all-day breakfast, biscuits, and cakes too.
Their tea is hit and miss. Their Mandala Street branch make an authentic dudh chiya (milk tea). But other branches are lazy and use a tea bag with water and milk.
Foodwise, it’s fresh, they use quality ingredients, and they clearly have standards because each visit has been good.
If you’re looking for a reliable cafe during your travels, Himalayan Java Coffee will do.
Roadhouse Cafe (Thamel)
If you want the pleasures of home, then the Roadhouse Cafe will satisfy you. Their woodfire cooked 4 Cheese Pizza with local Yak Cheese is a standout.
I’ve been three times and while their chicken burger is average, everything else was great. I’m not sure you can have a bad meal here.
The dining space offers indoor and outdoor tables. It’s a beautiful place to sit and eat. It’s definitely pricer than the other options in this list, but it’s worth it.
Snowman Cafe (Freak Street)
I think the Snowman Cafe has seen better days. Freak Street used to be a famous hippy hangout. But these days it’s nothing of the sort. The Snowman Cafe is the last of this legacy.
Steve and I tried the Coffee Cake, Coconut Cake, Chocolate Brownie, and Black Coffee. It was nothing to write home about.
I include it here because if you want real cake and not the artificial cake you find around the city, this is the best option I found.
Their cakes are moist, made with real ingredients, and cheap at रु90 a slice.
It’s also a good place to hang and smoke if that’s your thing.
Hankook Sarang Korean Restaurant (Thamel)
Hankook Sarang will take you by surprise. As you walk through their doors you are transported into a picturesque courtyard for outdoor dining. It’s not fine dining but it’ll likely end up being the fanciest place on this list.
My meal was a spicy honey chilli rice bowl with chicken surrounded by kimchi, mung beans, carrot, and spinach. Alongside some Korean crispy fried chicken – honey garlic chilli flavour. You’ll also be served 6 plates of various side dishes to munch on. We loved it all.
If you want to go somewhere special for a romantic dinner then this would be a great option – good food in a pretty setting. I’ll be taking my wife there to try Korean food when she arrives.
French Creperie (Thamel)
The French Creperie specialises in buckwheat crepes (thin pancakes). There are sweet and savoury options.
The vegetarian crepes are a little underwhelming, but the non-veg shine, especially the Mountain Killer (bacon, mushroom, potato, onion, cheese, and lettuce) and the Non-Veg Complete with Bacon.
If you want to try a veg crepe, the best one is the Veg Complete (grilled mushroom, onion, tomato, egg, cheese, and lettuce).
I don’t drink coffee but a lot of people rate their French press coffee highly.
The best thing about the French Creperie is actually its outdoor courtyard dining experience. It’s what I imagined dining in Kathmandu would be like. And that experience is hard to find in Thamel.
Thamel Doner Kebab
Their chicken doner kebab रू330 is big and juicy but I recommend their Avocado Hummus Plate (avocado hummus, pita, pickles, falafel, and fries) रू400.
Organic Smoothie Bowl and Cafe (Lazimpat)
We were not disappointed! These were the best smoothie bowls I’ve had in Nepal! The photos say it all.
Going to Bhaktapur?
If you’re travelling to Bhaktapur, don’t miss my post on the two must-try foods there: Newari Cuisine and Juju Dhou.
Not-so-good places to eat in Kathmandu
None of the below restaurants are horrible, they’re just not up my alley and I found the food average. But take a look, as some of them may appeal to you.
Cafe Mitra (Thamel)
Cafe Mitra is a decent cafe with ok food. Their atmosphere and outdoor dining are charming and peaceful. There’s also a hangout spot at the very back of the cafe which overlooks a Stupa. Cute place, ok food.
Fire and Ice Pizzeria (Thamel)
Sandwich Palace (Thamel)
Subway-style sandwiches for reasonably cheap prices, but I found it weird that after they made the sandwich, they heated it in the microwave. Sandwich Palace is an average place.
Shandar Momo (Lalitpur)
Shandar Momo was recommended to me as the best Momo brand in Kathmandu. It’s not.
OR2K is probably the most famous restaurant in Kathmandu. I ate there while they only had a limited menu, and the food sucked. Maybe it’ll be worth it once they open up fully.