There is no shortage of restaurants in Patan/Lalitpur, the area of Kathmandu south of the river: Jamsikhel Road is even colloquially called ‘Restaurant Road’ by expats. This is partly because it’s a major expat enclave. The main UN headquarters are on Pulchowk Road, and a few international embassies are nearby, as well as many other INGO and NGO offices. As a result, Patan is is quite an expensive place to live and to dine, as those pesky expats (myself included) drive up prices, especially around Sanepa and Jamsikhel. But high prices don’t always mean high quality. There are many over-priced restaurants in this area serving poor imitations of Western food, along with bad service. These places don’t tend to last all that long, but it’s better to get recommendations from a trusted source (me!) if you’re planning to eat in Patan. Many places look pretty nice on the outside, but are actually very mediocre.
You’ll notice that most of my recommendations below are places that serve Western or non-Nepali food. Almost everywhere in Kathmandu will serve some kind of Nepali food on their menu, but when I eat out alone or with my friends I usually go for non-Nepali, just because I get plenty of chances to eat Nepali food at other times. And I figured it was a better idea to recommend the non-Nepali places because it’s rare to find Nepali food done badly in Kathmandu, yet it’s common to find Western/non-Nepali food done badly–thus the greater need for recommendations!
Tasneem’s Kings Kitchen
Jamsikhel Road (on the left, right at the entrance, before you reach the hospital on the right)
Tasneem herself, the owner of this newish Indian restaurant, will greet you warmly and tell you a little about her restaurant on arrival. It’s set in a renovated old building, and has a spacious garden out the back, as well as cosy indoor seating.
The lunch ‘mini meals’ at this newish Indian restaurant are great value–Rs350 (a little more for meat) for a thali filled with biryani, dal, curry, chapati, and raita. The food is a particular type of Gujarati Muslim cuisine, so meat curries and biryanis feature strongly on the menu. I would avoid eating here at other times, as the food is overpriced (think, Rs400-600 for a single bowl of curry). But the lunch specials are awesome.
- The lunch time mini meals (served 1-3, Sunday to Thursday).
Patan Dhoka (right next to the gate, entrance through the bookstore or from the low door around the side)
This was the first place I ever ate in Kathmandu, and I’m still a regular, going at least once a week for a drink (and more often if the internet at my place is playing up!) The garden seating is lovely, and the menu reliably good.
The service can be a bit blase, partly because they’re always busy and know they don’t need to go out of their way to impress, I suspect. Oddly, it’s harder trying to pay the bill than anything else; it can take forever…
- Irish coffee (very boozy and creamy)
- Peanut sandheko
- Club sandwiches
- Chocolate brownie (or any of the cakes, really)
- Paneer shashlik
(Avoid the nachos; they give you about 8 tortilla chips with a load of oniony salsa on top. A mistake).
The Lazy Gringo
Jawalakhel Chowk (it’s not marked on Google Maps, but it’s on the left as you’re approaching the chowk/roundabout, and has a yellow sign)
If you’re from anywhere in the Western hemisphere (the Americas) you may want to skip this place, because the ‘Tex-Mex’ food is far from what you can get in the US (let alone south of the border, though I haven’t been). But if you’ve never had the privilege of eating ‘proper’ Mexican food, then this place is pretty good.
The upstairs dining area is understated and a little old, but it has a certain bare-bones charm. The menu includes what you would expect for a Mexican restaurant–burritos, nachos, quesadillas, etc. It’s also deliberately kept small, which is rare around here–menus often go for pages and pages (although half of the items aren’t available when you want them!)
- The Stuffed Gringo (a large burrito with refried beans, lettuce, sour cream, cheese).
Jamsikhel (Google Maps doesn’t locate Pho 99, and I’ve never been in person to advise, but a review in the Nepali Times offers these instructions: “Walk straight from Jhamsikhel lane towards Dhobighat and turn right from Thado Dhunga”).
If I had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, and wasn’t allowed any other, I think I’d choose Vietnamese. It’s such a deceptively simple cuisine, and the freshness and subtlety of flavours are always a delight. Even in Kathmandu.
This place has a couple of branches: the other is named Viet Ngon Saigon Pho, and is on Lazimpat Road north of Thamel. I’ve been there, but I’ve never actually physically been to the Jhamsikhel branch, Pho 99. But I have had it delivered by FoodMandu (a great delivery service where you can order from a number of restaurants online).
- Shrimp summer rolls
- Bun Thit Nuong with tofu–I could eat this stuff every day.
Jamsikhel Road (the map below is actually a little bit wrong: look out for the sign on the right, just past Vesper Cafe and before Roadhouse Cafe; go down the dusty lane there for about 2 minutes, following the signs)
Le Trio is famous for its Momo Cha with Jhol Achar, a bowl full of momos served in a thick, spicy soup. There are plenty of other things on the menu, including Buffalo wings, steak and other non-Nepali offerings. But really, just go for the momos.
- Momo Cha with Jhol Achar
- Mint lemonade
How’s this for an imitation of an island paradise!? A mint lemonade at Le Trio, down the dusty, muddy lanes of Kathmandu on a cloudy day. Yum. The momo soup was pretty good, too. #cocktail #virgincocktail #lemonade #letrio #summer #foodofnepal #DKTM #sonderon #nepalNOW #nepal #visitnepal #kathmandu #nepal8thwonder #instanepal #passionpassport #travel #matadoru #explore #wanderlust #travelgram #instatravel #passionpassport #travelwithmoon #planetdiscovery @pinkpangea
Sing-Ma Food Court
Sing-Ma is short for Singapore Malaysia, as that’s the cuisine that’s served here. It’s fairly authentic, with the picture menus that you find in Kuala Lumpur, chopsticks to eat your noodles with, and an attempt at that Southeast Asia food-court experience (although they don’t pull this off all that well!). The fresh juices are great, just like in Malaysia, but they don’t serve alcohol at all.
- Watermelon juice
- Fried tofu
Pulchowk Road, Kupondole (just down the road a bit from the Hotel Himalaya, on the other side)
Bricks Cafe is set in a large renovated Newari home, so there are lots of lovely and different spaces to sit in: a large garden area, the downstairs terrace, a sun deck, at the bar, or in the attic dining area. Bricks is as good for an after-work drink as a full meal, though the wood-fired pizzas are some of the best in Kathmandu.
I wrote a review of Bricks Cafe for the Inside Himalayas blog, which I recommend you read for detailed insights into the menu.
- Woodfired pizza (the mushroom one especially!)
- Whole trout
Pulchowk Road (opposite the bus stand and the wall with the gas canister graffiti)
‘Taza’ means ‘fresh’ in Nepali, a host of other South Asian languages (such as Hindi) and Arabic, and is fitting for this Middle Eastern restaurant run by a Syrian-Nepali couple.
Before Taza, if I felt like Middle Eastern food I’d have to head to Or2K in Thamel, which does great Israeli food, but is a bit pricey, a bit far away just to go for lunch, and a bit too full of tourists for a local resident to handle on a bad day! Although Taza doesn’t have the ambience and decor of Or2K, and the menu is shorter, what it does serve is perfect. The Syrian owner is very friendly, too.
Taza serves some of the best non-Nepali food in Kathmandu, in my opinion, and it gets an almost perfect 5 in its Trip Advisor ratings, too.
- The vege platter, with falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, chips, salad…
Jawalakhel Chowk (opposite The Lazy Gringo)
There are several Western-style bakeries dotted around Patan, but the German Bakery is definitely the best. The huge slices of apple pie are delicious and good value.
(The Vienna Bakery, on Jamsikhel Road, is also popular, but the bread is rather overpriced at several hundred rupees a loaf, and their cakes and pastries are often stale. Germany wins over Austria, this time).
With the exception of one complimentary meal at Brick’s Cafe, all costs were paid by me and all opinions are entirely my own. Links included in this post are for informational purposes only.
Top image: Gavin Golden (Flickr/Creative Commons)