11 Cool Cafés to Visit in the Hill Towns of North-East India

Sunset view from Gangtok, Sikkim |© Abhijit Kar Gupta / Flickr
Sunset view from Gangtok, Sikkim |© Abhijit Kar Gupta / Flickr
The Northeastern states of India is a treasure trove of unexplored magnificence and the world is only just opening up to its rugged beauty. Snowy mountains and rolling green hills frame the area and the eclectic tribal culture layers it with a rare personality. During your visit here, these are some of the places where you can soak in the hospitality of the region over cups of coffee and a plateful of delicious food.

Tio Cafe

Cafe, American, European, Ramen

The best kind of cafés are always those which make you feel like you’re lounging inside your home. Tio Cafe does just that. The intimate space will immediately extend a warm welcome and once you’re in, it’s hard to keep track of time. Make sure to grab their melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies before you leave. From time to time, Tio Cafe also puts up fresh organic produce for sale.

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Bibliotheque Book Cafe, Gangtok

Cafe, European, Dessert, Ramen

A café which feels more like the favorite corner of your home, Bibliotheque is a place where you can spend your entire day cuddling up with a book. The hostess, who gives you the impression that she’s your long lost best friend, serves some amazing comfort food with generous potions. Their appetizing menu is matched only by the equally drool-worthy collection of books on the shelves.

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Loafing Around

Bakery, Cafe, Dessert, European

This snug little cafè is famous for its delectable desserts. The blueberry cheesecake and chocolate truffle with vanilla gelato, especially, are out of this world. Add to that the elegant vintage theme and Loafing Around becomes a place that you can’t help but fall instantly in love with.

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Dylan’s Cafe

Cafe, Asian, European, American, $$$

It’s only fitting that an entire café dedicated to Bob Dylan should find a place in the music-obsessed town of Shillong, better known as the rock music capital of India. While the walls are adorned with vinyl records and posters of the musician, the décor is dotted with quirky Dylan-themed cushions. Lucky guests can even find an occasional customised pair of Dylan shoes up for sale at the café.

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ML 05 Cafe

Cafe, American, European, $$$

An installation of the Royal Enfield motorbike dangles proudly in the middle of the room and there are license plates hanging down from the ceiling. A mural depicting a Bedford Bus, a Willys Jeep, a black and yellow Ambassador taxi, and a Royal Enfield motorbike (yet again) decorates a part of the wall, while framed vintage photographs of local vehicles adorn the rest. Needless to say, ML 05 is a retreat for all car and bike aficionados. An air of adventure shrouds the café at all times.

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Dharma Coffee House and Library

Coffee Shop, Fast Food, Dessert

Nestled within the scenic landscape of Tawang Valley is a charming café called Dharma Coffee House and Library. Along with serving piping hot coffees, the place also lets you explore books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist scholars. It’s an ideal place to enjoy peace and quiet while soaking in some spiritual experience.

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Coco Cafe

Bistro, Cafe, American, Dessert, Asian

You know a place is great when the locals themselves tag it as their favorite hangout spot. With the young hip crowd having made this their frequent stomping ground, Coco Cafe always has a vibrant energy emanating from its interiors.

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Restaurant, Chinese, Korean, American, $$$

Armed with a menu that serves a mix of Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, and American dishes, Chopstyx has done pretty well to accommodate such a diverse potpourri of cuisines. One of the best parts of being at Chopstyx is the fantastic location that overlooks the pretty little town of Aizwal.

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Caffe Moa

Restaurant, Korean

Of late, the young generation of Northeast Indians have been heavily influenced by Korean culture. From K-Pop to Korean films and Korean cosmetics, the telltale signs of this South Asian wave spreading like wildfire is unmistakable. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Caffe Moa, a café serving Korean fare is a hit with the locals here in Itanagar.

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Greens The Coffee Shop

Coffee Shop, American, $$$

Like most Northeastern towns of India, Imphal has always brimmed with music lovers. Therefore, Greens The Coffee Shop doubles up as a creative space by providing a platform to local artists and musicians alongside established names in the field. They’re also known to serve some of the best burgers around.

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Mr. Frankie

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Timber, Imphal

Bistro, Cafe, Asian, Seafood, $$$

While the décor is minimal, the food at Timber is anything but. Towering double layered burgers and a bowlful of spicy noodles are perfect for starving souls. Their seafood offerings, which include various baby octopus and squid dishes, are the most popular picks from the menu.

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