In our next edition of cafes in popular hill stations of India, we take you to some of the best cafes in McLeodganj. By Karan Kaushik
Nestled in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, McLeodganj is a suburb of Dharamshala. It’s also known as the little Lhasa of India. From colonial churches to enchanting waterfalls and age-old Buddhist monasteries and bustling markets, McLeodganj is a sheer paradise for the discerning traveller. Being a popular tourist town, McLeodganj leaves one spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. We have tried to make things easier for you by shortlisting some of the most popular places to enjoy sumptuous food in the hill station.
No prices for guessing, this popular cafe serves delicious Italian. If sitting by the window and soaking in some mountain views while you sip a cup of hot chocolate sounds like a plan to you, Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen is perfect. It’s one of those cosy cafes where you can have some bruschetta and relax and have more of them. Do try their Mushroom Cheddar Potato and Lasagne with Cold Coffee. They also do vegan pizzas. Their Pizza Mariana, seasoned with only tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, and garlic, is out of this world!
Where: Bhagsu Road, McLeodganj
If dining on a rooftop with beautiful views is high on your agenda, do visit Carpe Diem. They serve wholesome Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and Indian fare. The café offers an idyllic setting to drink in the natural beauty of the Dhauladars, make friends, and enjoy live music. The rooftop café is your quintessential hippie café with comfy mattresses and cushions for sitting. You can also use their Bluetooth speakers to play the music of your choice. As far as the food goes, try their tacos, pizzas, and moussakas.
Where: Jogiwara Road, Mcleod Ganj
When the popular book cafe Illiterati shut its door last year, many McLeodganj regulars were left heartbroken. After all, Cafe Illiterati was a paradise for lovers of good literature and fine food. But its wonderful owner Julian Urban has started a new cafe right next to where Illiterati was. It’s called The Other Space. They now operate as a small art gallery cafe with a beautiful co-working space. There’s outdoor seating available too. The cafe also hosts regular book launches and art exhibitions. Try their Le Cheese Plater. The Almond Chocolate Muffin, when had with a double cappuccino is to die for. So are their pancakes and pizzas.
Where: Jogiwara Road, Sudher, Dharamshala
Located in the heart of the hill station, Moonpeak Espresso is one of the most popular cafes in McLeodganj. Run by a lovely couple who will make their best to make you feel at home, the cute little cosy cafe serves a variety of cuisines. From traditional Himachali thalis to cakes and pastries, you’d get it all here. True blue foodies will be delighted by their breads and cheese spread. If you are a meat lover, order their Non-veg Himachali Thali for the yum Mutton Khatta. Other popular dishes include Mutton Roll, Bacon Sandwich, Coffee Ricotta Cake, Almond cake, Iced tea, and Hibiscus tea.
Where: Temple Road, McLeodganj
Perhaps one of the oldest cafes in McLeodganj, Shiva’s Cafe has a separate legion of fans. Thanks to its awe-inspiring natural decor and earthy vibes, the cafe is every inch Instagrammable. The grey brick building adorned with lush branches of local plants and tastefully done wall art draws travellers in the droves. Most people arrive here to enjoy piping hot buttery paranthas and the good old maggi with a cup of chai after their trek to the Bhagsunag waterfalls. Try their Chicken Pizza, Hash Brown Aloo, and Shiva Special Dessert.
Where: Above Bhagsunag Falls, McLeodganj
Bogdo Cafe may not be as famous as the other cafes in McLeodganj, but their food is definitely worth writing home about. You will have to make a little extra effort to reach this cafe, but their Special Green Tingmo will make it worth the run. Located opposite Yongling School, the cafe boasts a pretty rooftop with majestic views of the rolling hills. The cafe is just a five-minute walk from the Namgyal Monastery. They also offer comfortable accommodation, but most people come here for the cafe, its food, and the unmatched views it offers.
Where: Jogiwara Road, McLeodganj
Any trip to McLeodganj will be incomplete without savouring authentic Tibetan cuisine. And there’s no place better than Tibet Kitchen to do that. The popular cafe has three floors and one is entirely dedicated to a lounge. They are mostly chockablock with backpackers from all corners of the world. What’s nice about Tibet Kitchen is its generous proportions and super cordial staff. From everyone’s favourite momos to the Tibetan noodle soup thukpa, every preparation here will make you fall in love with Tibetan food. Don’t miss their signature Thenthuk, a Tibetan noodle soup made with veggies and rice.
Where: Main Square, Jogiwara Road, McLeodganj
Located right beside Carpe Diem Cafe, Woeser Bakery is without a doubt the most-loved bakery in McLeodganj. The quaint bakery must be visited for an impressive range of sweet treats and espresso. They have vegan and gluten-free options too. Patrons keep coming back to the bakery/cafe for their famous Carrot Cake and handmade cappuccino. Their home-cooked cakes and muffins and ginger lemon honey tea are simply amazing. The tables here are beautifully decorated with currency notes from across the world. They have a nice book collection too.
Where: First floor, Jogiwara Road, Beside Carpe Diem, McLeodganj
Next up on our list is Crepe Pancake Hut. Known for its live music sessions and bohemian vibes, the cafe is as aesthetic as they come. With wooden walls, wooden flooring and elegant cane furnishings, the cafe will make you instantly fall in love with its vibes. The walls are adorned with framed quotations from eminent personalities. The place is one of the most chilled-out spots in McLeodganj, where you will never have a dull moment. Start your mornings in McLeodganj with a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and chocolate pancakes here while you flip through the pages of an old dog-eared book.
Where: Jogiwara Road, Opposite Mt. View Hotel, McLeod Ganj
Another extremely popular cafe among backpackers, Cafe Lazymonk is a traveller’s cafe through and through. The beautiful cafe offers a relaxing seating arrangement amidst nature. The walls of the cafe are embellished with tastefully done paintings that depict the rich cultural heritage of Dharamsala. The place is flocked by adventure seekers throughout the day, who arrive here after or before their adventures in the Himalayas. Some travellers also chose it as a camping site, thanks to the blissful vibes here. They also organise interesting nature walks and treks in the mountains. As far as the impressive menu of the cafe goes, try their Tibetan Momos and pizzas.
Where: Dharamkot Road, McLeodganj
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