The ultimate foodie list for vegetarians in Kathmandu
by Azeta Yu
Monday, March 27, 2017
When traveling sometimes it is difficult to discover nice restaurants. Maybe they are too touristic or they charge you a lot for a good and clean meal. But I reveal you here (so you won’t have to take any risk) the best vegetarian and vegan spots in Kathmandu.
Nepali cuisine relies on Dal Bhat. These two words are (or should be) well known to everyone who has traveled once to the country. Dal Bhat consists of a melange of ingredients: lentil soup (dal) and steamed rice (bhat). Along with these two, the dish is complete with some curry veggies (usually potatoes and cauliflower called tarkari), sauteed green leafs (sak), pickles (achar) and papad (a kind of fried lentil flour chip).
This meal will satisfy the hungriest stomachs because you get a little bit of everything: beans, veggies and fresh flavors. Sometimes it comes with some curd or rice pudding as dessert. If you are still down for another bite, don’t worry because you can refill your metal tray (where Dal Bhat is served) as many times as you ask for. Only one advice: don’t refill it more than three times. I did it once and that killed me, so I recommend for your safety to refill two times only. Try to keep your gluttony controlled and think that you always can have another tea or some fruit before going to sleep. Don’t make the same mistake as me, unless you know you can eat more than 300 grams of rice in a row (rice is served in gigantic proportions).
There is also another option for those who are already fed up with rice: Khodo ko Dhido. Usually known as Dhido Set or Dhindo is a kind of traditional polenta made from stone-ground millet, buckwheat or corn flour. If you are down for Dhido, make sure you are extremely hungry (and let me insist: extremely!) that day. This mush is very thick in texture. Moreover, trekkers will enjoy this delicious meal as an alternative to rice due to its nutritional value. Dhido is typically found in the rural areas of Nepal, especially in farming communities where it is difficult to grow rice or wheat crops due to weather conditions. But if you do not want to walk to this remote landscapes, there are also modest restaurants in Kathmandu that serve this meal as the most authentic Nepali food.
P.s. to the introduction:
There is also another variant of Dal Bhat called Takhali. This is a fusion between the Nepali traditional meal and Thali from India. This dish is prepared in a different way, mixing Indian flavors and spices. It’s usually served with spicy tomato sauce or dal soup cooked with ghee.
Whether you are vegetarian or not you will enjoy the places recommended on this list
Thakali Bhanchha Ghar
“The best Takhali in Nepal” it is written in the entrance and it is not completely wrong. Even though there are a lot of different restaurants to go and eat a good Takhali, this one is in the foodie list because of its “aromas” and the fresh tomato sauce. You can find it in Thamel.
Location: Chaksibari Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal.
Contact: +977 1-4701910.
Price: 200 nr.
I named it “The hidden place” because it is quite an adventure to find it. If you follow the Roots Bar street then you should turn left and then continue ten meters and turn right. I cannot give you the exact location but if you follow on Google Maps the direction to Roots Bar or Buddha Bar and the instructions above, I am sure you will find it.It is a family-run place, so you will enjoy its relaxed atmosphere. Nothing related to any other place in Thamel. You will see only Nepali people and sometimes there will be some western faces showing around. Their Dal Bhat is one of the best quality-price. They refill your dish as much as you want only for 130 Nepali rupees. And at the end, you have this warm feeling that you have been tasting the “real food of Nepal” where locals eat. Here is a nice opportunity to taste the Dhido Set. They will bring everything along with your buckwheat polenta. Gluten free gourmets can also enjoy this option!
Location: following the street from Buddha Bar to Roots Bar and walking 1 minute more in the same direction.
Price: 130 nr (both Dhido set and Dal bhat).
Double Dorjee Restaurant
If you are around Bouddhanath and you want to enjoy nice food while reading, writing or simply chatting in the coziest restaurant in town (and probably all Nepal) you have won the lottery. This is a charming spot run by the nicest woman on Earth. She will take your note and then she will cook for you. So don’t spect to have a quick service. It’s gonna take her around 30-40 minutes to bring the food to the table. But the good point is that the place is perfect to enjoy a cup of chai (or any other kinds of tea. Jasmine tea is awesome!) and relax until you eatShe has a variety of dishes, from Nepali to Tibetan and Western. Plus she makes daily-fresh apple pie (ask to warm it a little bit for a perfect afternoon tea time).
Location: Boudha Rd, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal.
Price: between 250 and 500 nr.
Healthy and vegan alternatives
Now that you know the best places to eat traditional Nepali food, it is time to introduce you to the best alternative places, in case you had enough of the Nepali taste. The offer is a mix between western and Asian, certainly the best opportunity to enjoy healthy food.
Bliss Raw Cafe
This is an extraordinary restaurant situated next to Bouddhanath. So if you plan to visit the Stupa you must have either breakfast or lunch in this place. I’ve never tried dinner here because they close quite early (around 7 pm). Make sure you have enough time to enjoy their backyard with plenty of sunlight. The food is even more delicious when you eat it in an open and quiet space, out of the crowd in Boudha. Their prices are cheap in comparison with the quality of their meals. You can pay between 400 and 600 rupees for a dish, but it is gonna be fully satisfying, healthy and nutritious.I recommend Bliss Cafe if you are a vegan/raw food lover because they offer different raw sweets, vegan cheesecakes and more than three kinds of smoothies. If you like nut milk, then try their special Almond Milk with vanilla and dates. It is made from their stone-ground almond butter which they also sell. You are going to feel that all cells in your body are recovered from the dusty streets and nourished instantly.
Location: Boudha 44602, Kathmandu 44602, Nepal. You can also find them in Le Sherpa’s Market every Saturday from 8 to 12 am.
Contact: Bliss Facebook page.
Price: from 200 to 600 nr.
Sarangi Vegetarian Restaurant
If what you really like is rooftop restaurants and chill out areas, Sarangi is your place. They have two spaces: one inside and another in the terrace with cushions and one hydroponic system surrounding the area.This place is perfect if you are looking for some activities to join: cinema, breakfast with yoga, dance, and music sessions… You can choose between a wide range of things to do here while having a great and clean lunch or dinner. Maybe some hummus with chapati or other Indian-Nepali meals.It is more than a restaurant but also a community project: they have schools and initiatives to support women in rural areas.
Location: Shiva Complex, Thamel 29, Nepal, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal.
Price: from 250 to 600 nr.
Almost everyone knows this Middle-East and Nepali restaurant. It is placed in the heart of Thamel, so you won’t miss it. I enjoy their falafel (it comes with tahini, salad, and hummus. They also have gluten free options). Their menu offers all kinds of dishes you can order, like American style pizza, pasta (also gluten free spaghetti option and vegan sauces) and Middle-East traditional spreads like Babbaganoush.If you are the kind of chocolate dessert person I especially recommend you their Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Tart. A delicious treat you can give to yourself as a recompense for a long day walking through the city. It is very creamy with a base layer of cashews.
Location: Mandala street, Kathmandu, Nepal. *If you visit Pokhara there is also an Or2K with nice views to the lake.
Contact: +977 1-4422097 / visit Or2K’s website.
Prices are between 400-600 rupees. Sweets and desserts are around 200-300 rupees. They also have shakes, juices, and cocktails.
Momotarou Japanese Restaurant
If you are a Japanese food addict and you cannot live without eating once in a while Japanese food, then do not worry about it because in Kathmandu there is also a place to satisfy your foodie desires. Maybe you will notice they cook different than other Japanese restaurants you have been to. Don’t forget you are in Nepal, remember this small detail and your lunch/dinner will be amazing. I always order tofu because I love to get some extra protein while traveling. In that sense, Dhal Bhat is nice because you get lentils, but don’t forget to pay an extra attention to your vegan needs and try to eat nuts, beans and other sources of minerals and proteins.
Location: Thamel Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal.
Contact: +977 1-4417670.
Price: You will pay around 400-500 rupees for one dish but they will serve it along with some miso soup and bancha tea.
Vietnamese cuisine. Rice noodles and all kinds of meals based on coconut milk, peanut sauce, and tofu. Here is where I go when I miss a good plate of sauteed rice noodles with vegetables. The difference from other places is tofu: here is texturized soy so you will find it is a little bit gummy. The veggies are always fresh and not overcooked. You can realize that they manage the wok perfectly, so don’t be afraid of having these ultra-boiled vegetables that are common in Nepal. Here flavors are more subtle and fresh with a delicate touch of spices and nuts. I am sure you will enjoy changing for one day to different colors and textures. Let yourself be seduced by the Vietnamese style.
Location: Boudha Rd, Kathmandu 44602, Nepal.
*In Pokhara there is also another Pho, with more space than the one in Kathmandu, but they are both highly recommendable.
Contact: +977 1-2239773.
Price: The price range is between 400 and 800 rupees.
Read the Nepali Times review.
Cheap options for all kinds of travelers
If you feel overwhelmed by the difference between local prices and the alternative-healthy ones, then you can take a look in these low-budget restaurants.
Western Tandoori and Naan House
This is a small place, always full, always working. Their oven is continuously making roti and papad, which are delicious by the way. You will get them for only 10 rupees (which is nothing) so you can get as many as you want to accompain your order. Remember they will always be warm and fresh-made so try to order only a couple and then wait until you finish to refill the roti-basket where they serve it.In Western Tandoori you will taste Indian food as well as Nepali, but I always go for their special Indian style items like Channa Masala (chickpeas with spices), Alu Palak (potatoes with spinach), Alu Jeera (fried potatoes with cumin) and Veg curry. Their meals are quite spicy but you will calm it down with roti or Garlic Naan (garlic bread, a must try). Avoid this restaurant if you have a sensitive stomach. Everything is fried, oily and spicy.
Location: Amrit Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal.
Contact: +977 981-6130338.
Price: The prices are incredibly cheap from 30 to 80 rupees plus roti or naan of your choice. You can also combine the dishes you order with plain rice for only 50 rupees.
Fast food restaurants
Even though I never eat fast food, in Nepal there are a lot of restaurants that call themselves “Fast Food Restaurants”. You will see this words everywhere but don’t get confused, it is like the buses that say “free wifi”, “tourist only” or “air conditioned”. Don’t believe them, it is only the Nepali way of showing off. So when you go to this “fast food” restaurants you will get everything like in any other place, but with the difference that they are very cheap. So their quality is not as good, fresh or clean than in the so-called restaurants. These places are a good option if you want to eat momo (veggie dumplings). You can find them all around Nepal. A bunch of 10 costs around 60-100 rupees.
Price: roti, chapati 10-20 rupees. Momo between 60-120nr.
If you like to try some other kind of food is very recommendable to go to a Tibetan restaurant. If you are a trekker don’t worry, you will find amazing food when you go to the mountains. Staying in guesthouses you may try the tastiest Tibetan meals such as Tibetan bread, Shampa (Tibetan porridge) or Sherpa Stew (very close to the Tibetan soup called Thukpa). In Tibet Kitchen, you will find nice and big Thukpa made with vegetable stock and wheat noodles. Or you can also try all kinds of Tibetan bread (from the very fluffy Timok to the flat fried bread).
Location: Boudha Stupa, Kathmandu, 44600, Nepal.
Price: from 200 to 500 nr.
White Dzambala Restaurant
The perfect spot to eat Chinese food. They have a very large menu where you can find all kinds of food: veggies (braised, boiled or fried), tofu (home-made style, sweet and sour, fried), soups (wheat noodle, vermicelli noodle, plain). They also have huge vegetarian “casseroles” with tofu. The price of the rice bowls is ridiculously cheap, only 20 rupees. So the best here is to share two or three dishes and take one plain rice bowl for each person.
Location: Boudha Stupa, 44600, Nepal.
Price: from 170 to 300 nr.
by Azeta YuMonday, March 27, 2017
I was born near the Mediterranean coast (close to Barcelona) but I don't have a permanent place right now. I love writing, to be more specific, I like children and travel literature. I won two literature contests and I work as a freelancer (interviews, art, and culture). I practice yoga and meditation to keep my mind&body flexible and strong. I am vegan since almost 5 years now. I think it is more than only a healthy option. So I try to share (writing or doing workshops) as much as I know about it. I like to recommend nice restaurants, discover new recipes, share tips, etc. On the other hand, I like philosophy, art, and dance. So you will read a lot of these topics in my articles.Read more at ao-travelstories.com