Here are a few personal favourite restaurants in Kathmandu, and in around Thamel.
Whether you want dal bhat or local Newari dishes, or fancy something from elsewhere in the world, Kathmandu has a wide choice of cuisines.
Cafe Chikusa, Jyatha, Thamel
My favourite cafe, this Japanese partnership offer the best local coffee in cups (mug-sized) and mugs (bucket sized) as well as an extensive breakfast menu. This is a great place to meet locals and though the front part is very narrow and snug, there’s a larger room at the back.
Not only the best coffee, but as far as I’m aware, this is the only place that serves a range of toasties. I nearly always go for the tuna and egg toasted sandwich, but the peanut butter, honey and banana take a lot of beating. They do the whole range of pancakes, eggs however you want and a variety of drinks and more ‘healthy’ breakfast options too.
Muktinath Thakali Kitchen, Thamel
Up two floors just off the main street that heads up to Thamel Chowk, this Thakali Kitchen is run by a family from Muktinath in the Annapurnas.
As well as the usual choice of chowmein, fried rice, momos and ‘continental’ dishes, this restaurant serves a very good dal bhat or thali, with a choice of non-veg and vegetarian with rice or dhendo. Maybe one of the few restaurants serving dhendo, this is similar to polenta and is eaten mainly by mountain folk in areas where rice doesn’t grow. Traditionally seen as ‘poor’ people’s food, it is often shunned by people from the lowlands. But it is just the thing if you’re getting a bit fed up of rice every day. I love it.
Yak Restaurant, Jyatha, Thamel
Continuing down towards Asaan along Jyatha is the Yak Restaurant, a Tibetan family run restaurant with a budget hotel of the same name upstairs. Totally unpretentious and cheap, the food is always very good here.
As well as serving the usual fare of momos, chowmein and so on, this is where you can sample the local mountain brew, tongba. Brewed from millet, it is served in wooden mugs and with hot water. As you drink, you just keep refilling with hot water from a thermos. And as you keep filling up, be careful as it gets stronger! This is a traditional homemade brew found in the eastern Himalayan region of Nepal and neighbouring Darjeeling and Sikkim. Nothing beats it on a cold, winter day!
Revolution Cafe, Jyatha, Thamel
This time north along Jyatha a few minutes before you leave Thamel, Revolution is on the corner just inside a narrow street that goes left beside a small temple. With its pleasant courtyards at the front and the back, this restaurant is an oasis of calm during the day, but is buzzing in the evening when there’s live music every Friday and Happy Hour on cocktails between 4 and 8 pm.
A wide ranging menu, there’s something to please everyone with Chinese, Continental, Indian, Italian, Nepali, Newari, Thai and Tibetan choices on the menu. My favourite here is the pad Thai noodles.
Momotourou Japanese Restaurant, Thamel
A couple of minutes from Revolution, this Japanese place serves excellent Japanese dishes as well as a selection of Nepali and continental dishes at very affordable prices. Served with complimentary green tea, dishes include soups that are meals in themselves, roast mackerel, sushi, katsu don, udon, yakitori and many other favourites. The miso soup is good here too.
Facing the main street as you come up from Thamel Chowk towards Lainchaur, you have the choice of the front part of the restaurant (smokers) or another room exclusively for non-smokers.
Bhumi Restaurant and Bar, Lazimpat
A fifteen minute walk from Thamel to Lazimpat, this Newari restaurant serves all the favourite Newar dishes. Legendry for their feasts, traditionally there are over 80 Newar dishes. Nowadays it is still not unusual to find more than twenty including chhiura (beaten rice), chhoila (boiled or smoked meat marinated with spices), bara (ground black lentil patty), chatamari, roasted soya beans, boiled fried eggs, fried fish, potato curry and more.
Whether it’s a chatamari or a bari (a Newar variation on pizza), or one of the many spicy meat dishes that contain every kind part of the animal from its tongue and lung, to its liver, kidney or brain – you name it, it’s on the menu. This is a great place to meet friends and nibble the spicy morsels of offal over beer.
Tings Tea Lounge, Lazimpat
Also in Lazimpat, tucked down a small alley by the side of the Gangjong Hotel and behind the Indian Embassy, this beautiful little Danish owned boutique hotel and tea lounge offers a short but wonderful menu of global fusion dishes. As the same suggests, they focus on tea and offer a selection of over 20 teas from all over Asia. My favourite is the grapefruit and green tea though for an aperitif, the Earl Grey gin and tonic takes a lot of beating. Dishes include Vietnamese summer rolls, spicy glass noodle salad, coco crepes with mushroom or chicken filling, and my very favourite, a tapas plate with their selection of humus, chicken or tofu marinated in ginger and sesame and other seasonal delicacies. Bread is homemade and the best you’ll find anywhere in Kathmandu.
The dining room area is tastefully Scandin-Asia and often displays works of art by local artists. The lovely surrounding garden is also particularly nice to eat al fresco or relax over tea, or even a cup of coffee.
For something a bit different, Curilo opposite the British Emabassy and just down from the Indian Embassy in Lazimpat is the place to eat. Owned by a partnership of Nepali friends, the cooking here is creative and inspired. (One of the partners was a former chef from the Hyatt).
Continental cuisine with imagination, and though it is open until about 8.30-9pm, it aims more for breakfast or lunch. My favourite breakfast here is their avocado toast and they do great poached eggs. For lunch or dinner one of my favourites has been their ostrich and parmesan, though the bruscetta with various toppings is to be recommended too. My most favourite main is their Vegetable Cordon Bleu, which is a wonderful light medley of vegetables parboiled and then stir-fried in a burger, sat on a salad and garnished with beetroot coulis. Their pastas are excellent too, with the most delicious tomato sauce I’ve tasted anywhere. You won’t get such top cuisine for so affordable prices anywhere else.