Top 12 Restaurants- a foodie guide in Nepal

Top 12 Restaurants- a foodie guide in Nepal

By Carol WangUpdated Oct. 19, 2021

Whenever we talk about the best restaurants in Nepal, we always recommend the ones with authentic food, affordable prices, clean environments, and easily accessible locations. In the capital city, Kathmandu, you will find restaurants from all over the world. In addition to local Nepalese restaurants, you can also have a taste of the foods from India, China, Tibet, and the West.

As for the top restaurants, there are vegan restaurants, meat lovers’ restaurants, cafés & bars, street food restaurants, and high-end restaurants. Those we are recommending provide the "best" of Nepal.

We suggest restaurants for the best local food, such as momo or dal bhat together with restaurants for the best curry cuisine, Newari food, and Tibetan food. If you get tired of Nepali food, we also recommend restaurants with the best European cuisine.

Highlights

  • Nepal doesn't have its own cuisine. The food mainly comes from India and Tibet. You will also find some restaurants serving Korean, Chinese, Japanese, European, Thai, Indian, and other foreign cuisines.
  • Thamel is the best district for finding food in Kathmandu. The best place for food in Pokhara is Lakeside. There are many restaurants allowing a variety of options.
  • Rice is the staple food in Nepal, and dal bhat is the main course in Nepali meals with the option of vegetarian or meat.
  • Nepal has a variety of cooking experience courses, where you will be taken to visit the local market, gain an understanding of the food culture, and improve your cooking skills.
  • Vegetarians will be pleased to know that there is a large range of vegetarian dishes in Nepal — vegan, gluten-free, or lactose-free.
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Nepalese Food

Nepal has not developed its own style of cuisine. Foods were mostly evolved from Newari, Indian cuisine, and also partly from Tibet. Newari is a group of people indigenous in the Kathmandu Valley.They made offers in developing Nepali food a lot. Yomari (sweet dumpling) is the traditional food in Newari. It is served for the Yomari Punhi festival, which celebrates the rice harvest.

Dal bhat is the most popular dish originating from India, and now it is called a national food in Nepal. In Nepalese daily life, pulao (rice) is the staple food for dinner in most regions. Local people eat steamed rice, which is usually accompanied by lentil soup, meat, a crispy pancake, and vegetables with strong curry. Each person eating has a plate with all these foods on, and this formation is called Dal Bhat.

Nepalese cuisine is much influenced by Tibetan culture. Momo is the most representative food of Tibet. In the Himalayan region, people often prefer wheaten food due to the cold temperature. This type of food was brought to Nepal by the early traders.

Common ingredients found across Nepalese cuisine include lentils, potatoes, and tomatoes. Nepalese cuisine uses a unique combination of spices, the most popular being cumin, coriander, chilies, peppers, garlic, and mustard oil. The most important spice is curry powder, and most of the foods in Nepal are sauced with heavy curry as the Nepalese like spicy curry very much.

Desserts are not a good concept in Nepalese cuisine. Candy made of milk, yogurt, and cheese is usually eaten as a separate breakfast. Popular sweets are gulab jamun (made from deep-fried dough, sel roti (fried doughnut), samosas (fried triangles), yomari (sweet dumpling), etc.

As for drinks, dahi (yogurt) is very popular in Nepal. Local people usually use it as a side dish or as an ingredient in lassi (a kind of drink) and sikarni (a kind of dessert). Also, local people's favorite drinks are chai (tea with milk, sugar, and spice), butter tea, raksi (rice alcohol), and chang (home-brewed beer).

Best 12 Restaurants in Nepal

For travelers, of course, choosing a restaurant nearby is a good idea to avoid spending too much time on travelling. Thamel is a popular place for food and it’s easy to get there from anywhere in Kathmandu. It offers the most options for inexpensive, mid-range, and high-end restaurants. In Pokhara, most travelers like to go to the lakeside areas for eating.

There are many dining options to suit all budgets and palates, from street food to fast-food chains, or from café & bar to luxurious gourmet restaurant. They offer mixed cuisines from Indian to Nepalese, through to international cuisines.

Most restaurants are air-conditioned. Traditional eating places, especially those that cater to a local clientele, are always noisy or near a busy road. The more expensive restaurants normally boast decor and service that are of international standard.

Popular international cuisine such as Italian pasta and pizzas along with standard Chinese fare are all readily available. So too are beef steaks, fried chicken, and kebabs. Vegetarians will also be pleased that Kathmandu has a plentiful supply of vegetable-only meals including vegan.

There are many Nepali restaurants specializing in kebabs, fried chicken, bread, and momo. Every restaurant in Nepal is vegetarian-friendly and always provides both vegetarian and meat dishes.

Thamel Momo Hut

It has the best momo in Kathmandu. The restaurant is hidden away, up the stairs in an alley. You can watch people coming and going in the street while eating.

There are more than 14 kinds of momo — meat momo filled with beef, pork, and mutton; sweet momo with apple and chocolate; salty momo with peanut, cheese, and mushroom. The momo is cooked to your requirements — fried, steamed or soup.

It's a good and honest restaurant with healthy home cooking. It is clean and tidy inside with a traditional wood interior, and will meet most Westerners’ standards.

Category: Nepalese food

Specialty dishes: chocolate and cheese momos

Cost: USD 10–15 per person

Location: in Thamel district

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Bhojan Ghriha

This is the perfect place for authentic dal bhat, as it is served with organic ingredients. It is said that you eat like royalty in Bhojan Ghriha. You sit on the ground while having your dinner. Traditional Nepalese performances of live song and dance are offered. They have both Western seats and cross-legged mats.

Their set meal is four courses, including snacks, soup, dal ra tiun (lentil and a special vegetable preparation), meat, and rice. It also serves an à-la-carte menu for further options, if you require.

The staff are always friendly. The decoration there is very elegant, which perfectly reflects the style of Nepal.

Category: Nepalese food

Specialty dishes: mas ko dal (lentils prepared in a special pot), sikarni (yogurt)

Cost: USD 20–40 per person

Location: 12-minute drive from Thamel, in Dilli Bazaar

Bhumi Restaurant and Bar

It serves the best Newari food. Outside the tourist district, Bhumi is very popular with the local people. The restaurant is decorated in Newari traditional style. With its relaxed atmosphere, you can stay there for a long time to experience the Newari culture.

Unless there is a local guide, travelers seldom go there because it is not close to any major scenic spots. The locals enjoy bara (salty dough) and kwati (soup mixed with bean).

Very friendly and knowledgeable staff, and excellent food served in nice surroundings.

Category: Newari food

Specialty dishes: bara, kwati

Cost: USD 15–20 per person

Location: 20-minute drive from Durbar Square

The Third Eye

It serves the best curry cuisine. Located in the Thamel district, the Third Eye is a time-honored brand restaurant, established in AD 1989.

From its terrace, you look over the whole of Thamel. The dining room is full of landscape paintings by Nepalese artists, which may enrich your dining experience.

Indian and Nepali cuisine is served there. The spice level of the curries is mild, to match travelers' tastes. Based on tourists' feedback, the popular dishes there are chicken reshmi kebab, special nan, and beef curries.

Elegant and quiet environment. All the staff are well presented and professional.

Category: Indian food

Specialty dishes: mutton boti masala, chicken palak

Cost: USD 30–40 per person, extra 10% service fee

Location: in Thamel district

Fire and Ice

The best chatamari can be found there. Located in a luxurious shopping street, the Fire and Ice pizza shop offers the best traditional Italian cuisine.

It is famous for providing authentic ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese. You can find any traditional Italian dish on the menu — espresso for breakfast, and spaghetti, risotto, and Bolognese for dinner.

Huge pizza menu with every flavor you could wish for, and all cooked from scratch so they will arrive at the table at different times, nice and hot. Fire and Ice is the signature pizza there. The lovely local beer, called Sherpa, is worthy of a try.

The food is fresh, the service is friendly & quick.

Category: Italian food

Specialty dishes: pizza

Cost: USD 10–20 per person

Location: 12-minute drive from Thamel, in Dilli Bazaar

Utse Restaurant

One of the oldest Tibetan restaurants in the Thamel district. When dining there, you may feel as if you are in the old Lhasa alley. Utse is a Tibetan-style restaurant founded more than 30 years ago. It helped in the establishment of Thamel. 

They have experienced chefs who make many appetizing dishes, such as dhayshi (rice, condensed milk, and raisins) and specialty gacok (a hotpot made of meat, vegetables, mushrooms, and noodles), accompanied by a glass of tongba (millet-based Tibetan alcoholic drink), yummy!!

The restaurant is nicely decorated. The service is very attentive and extraordinarily polite.

Category: Tibetan food

Specialty dishes: gacok

Cost: USD 20–40 per person

Location: in Thamel district

Krishnarpan

This is a high-end Nepalese restaurant serving Nepalese cuisine with a "slow dining" experience. Located in the Dwarika Hotel, PATA Heritage award winner, the Krishnarpan restaurant is decorated in traditional Newari style. The traditional dining experience is a low table, where guests take off their shoes and sit on a mat.

All of the ingredients are grown on Dwarika's own organic farm. It mainly serves a set menu, offering between 6 and 22 courses with authentic local foods, including bandel tareko (roasted boar and spices) and kukhura ko masu (curried chicken). They are all perfectly accompanied by a glass of raksi (rice wine).

Extremely luxurious environment, providing services of an international standard.

Category: Nepali and Indian food

Specialty dishes: bandel tareko

Cost: USD 50–70 per person

Location: in Dwarika Hotel, 10-minute drive or 30-minute walk from Durbar Square

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Chez Caroline

Top French restaurant in Lonely Planet, Chez Caroline provides the best French cuisine. Located in Baber Mahal, it is also an outdoor pub where you can spend your spare time and also enjoy a lazy brunch.

A seasonal menu is offered there. During a first visit, you must try the wild mushroom pie and Rockford salad covered with walnut sauce. Of course, all kinds of desserts, tea, and wine are available.

It provides delicious fresh food in a quaint and delicate environment.

Category: French food

Specialty dishes: mushroom pie

Cost: USD 30–50 per person

Location: 10-minute drive or 30-minute walk from Durbar Square

OR2K

Best vegetarian restaurant. OR2K is a vegan restaurant, owned by an Israeli, focusing on vegetarian dishes from the Mediterranean countries.

Take off your shoes and sit cross-legged on the mat in front of the table. The hand-painted fluorescent menu and fluorescent lamp make the whole atmosphere feel artistic.

A traditional Nepalese copper plate will be brought to your table,containing bowls of sauces, dips, and lettuce. Most people recommend hummus, salads, all desserts, all cocktails, etc. You can really order anything you want.

This is a relaxed and well-served restaurant with a wide range of menus.

Category: vegan

Specialty dishes: Turkish combo platter

Cost: USD 15–30 per person

Location: in Thamel District in Kathmandu, or Lakeside in Pokhara

Saigon Pho

Authentic Southeast Asian cuisine. All the dishes are well prepared by Vietnamese chefs. Saigon Pho provides an insight into the cuisines of the Southeast Asian countries.

The restaurant is decorated in a typical Southeast Asian style, with wooden furniture and bamboo mats. The environment is very relaxed, with a pleasant terrace where you can enjoy the beautiful view of Lazimpat.

The restaurant menu is filled with lemongrass, mint, basil, and coriander. Whether it's vegetarian or the many kinds of meat, the taste won't disappoint you. Some of the most popular dishes on the menu are pho (Vietnamese noodles), stir-fried rice noodles, bun thit nuong (pork and noodles), and lemonade (with honey).

It is a beautiful place with a decorated terrace and fantastic, attentive service.

Category: Vietnamese and Asian food

Specialty dishes: pho, stir-fried beef

Cost: USD 30–50 per person

Location: in Lazimpat, Kathmandu — a 10-minute drive or 30-minute walk from Durbar Square

Moondance Restaurant (Pokhara)

Moondance is a two-story building by Phewa Lake. The decoration in the restaurant is very elegant. It is best to sit on the terrace for viewing the beautiful lake.

A huge menu and an overwhelming number of Western choices. Cocktails are strong and mellow. The lemon pie is a must for diners, and steak and pizza are also good choices. The wide pasta wrapped with cheese, with fresh mint and lemon juice, is extremely tasty.

Very friendly and knowledgeable staff, excellent food served in nice surroundings.

Category: European food

Specialty dishes: lemon pie

Cost: USD 20–40 per person

Location: in central Lakeside

Chilly Bar and Restaurant (Pokhara)

Multi-cuisine restaurant providing Western, Chinese, Nepali, Tibetan, and Indian food. The restaurant is a three-story building, including an indoor restaurant, bar, and a roof garden restaurant. Once you sit down, you don't want to leave. There you have the spectacular view of Machapuchare in the Himalayas.

Popular foods are hamburgers, salads, soups, and spaghetti, as well as traditional Nepalese dishes. If you are there for the first time, you must try bhatmas sandeko (spicy fried soya beans), pan butter masala and Phewa tal ko macha (a local specialty made from fish caught in the lake).

Very friendly and knowledgeable staff, excellent food served in nice surroundings.

Category: Asian food

Specialty dishes: Phewa tal ko macha

Cost: USD 30–50 per person

Location: in Central Lakeside

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Cooking Classes in Nepal

Nepal's cooking class tour is one of the popular things to do, with tour options for half a day or a full day. Most travelers prefer a half-day experience. A half-day tour usually takes about 3–5 hours. You can choose it for either the morning or afternoon.

There are between two and ten students in each class, both private and group (the price is different for each). In a half-day tour, you can learn 3–4 courses. Your teacher will probably be a senior chef in a restaurant, a professional teacher in a cuisine school, or an excellent housewife. They all speak English.

Most cooking tours will have the following steps —

  • Start with the market visit. It takes you through the selection of fresh ingredients for the season. 
  • The chef will go through the whole process with you step by step. You can ask any questions during cooking.
  • Time to taste the fruits of your labor. During the meal, you are likely to meet new friends from all over the world and you can share your unique experience with each other.
  • Finally, take your recipe sheets away so that you can cook these delicious Nepali dishes at home.

 

Based on customer feedback, Asia Highlights recommends three cooking classes — the Nepal Cooking School, Seven Women, and 2 Sisters.

1. Nepal Cooking School

The first culinary school in Kathmandu, chefs are trained experts in culinary arts.

The menu was carefully designed by these experts. They usually provide a choice of three set menus, each with four dishes. For example, aloo chop (potato patches), chatamari, dal fry with chapati, and thukpa (soup). Choose what you love.

The school is located in the Tamil region, with convenient transportation. If you have free time in Nepal, this is a good choice.

2. Seven Women

This is a storytelling cookery school, a social enterprise that strives to empower Nepalese women through skills training and literacy classes.

Usually, you can learn 4–5 dishes there, but the daily menu is not fixed. During the course of cooking, the chef will tell you stories about the difficulties faced by Nepalese women and how the situation in different parts of Nepal has improved slowly and surely, especially with the help of social enterprises such as Seven Women.

The school is located at the Opposite of Manokranti Centre, 15 minutes' drive from Durbar Square. Taking your cooking class there is also a good way to support a business that helps empower Nepalese women.

3. 2 Sisters

The school is run by young women entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

The menu and the cooking methods are based on traditional Nepalese cuisine, with an occasional sense of modern fusion. Their courses generally offer three traditional dishes: chatamaridal bhat and momo. During the class, your teacher will tell you a little bit about the food culture in Nepal.

It's located in Patan and is 15–20 minutes' walk from Patan Square. If you find yourself in Patan, you could set aside half a day for it.

Dining Tips

  • The tradition of Nepalese eating is to take hold of your food with your fingers, instead of using cutlery such as knives and forks. Generally speaking, restaurants in the tourist areas will provide tableware.
  • Beef is not allowed in this Hindu Kingdom, where cattle are sacred. The beef served in Nepalese restaurants is usually for travelers.
  • Avoid street food at all times in Nepal. Unlike the other Southeast Asian countries, street food in Nepal is not safe, as it is not likely to have been refrigerated and is usually heated for many days.
  • It is best to check whether the food in a restaurant is refrigerated and the area looks clean. Generally speaking, busy restaurants usually have fresh food.
  • Drink bottled water! Do not drink tap water in Nepal. Tap water in Nepal is not treated and usually comes directly from unfiltered wells or from unknown sources.
  • There is no need to reserve a table in advance. Even if you do, there is no guarantee that it will be retained.
  • Restaurants in Kathmandu charge a 10% service charge and 13% value-added tax. In 2019 taxes were canceled but some restaurants are still adding tax while others are not. Service fees and VAT are usually added to the bill before it is given to you.
  • If you are charged a 10% service fee on your bill, you don't have to tip! If you come from a tipping country, it is up to you.
  • The terms "vegan", "gluten-free", and "lactose-free" may not be understood in a small local restaurant, so please clearly tell the restaurant what you don't eat. But medium- and high-end restaurants may bring you better results.

Try your Foodie Tour with Asia Highlights

Whether you are exploring the local food or joining cookery classes, Asia Highlights will always provide the best service and greatest experience. All the restaurants we recommend are real local restaurants with authentic food.

We will choose the cleanest and most sanitary restaurants for you. Based on your own requirements, we will help you select the restaurants that can best meet your eating habits. We are also constantly seeking out a better cooking experience for you and creating greater value.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Every step of your trip, you will be looked after by your 1:1 travel consultant based in Asia.
  • No-risk booking: We refund as much as we can and adapt flexibly to unexpected changes.

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