The vibrant restaurant scene of Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu offers a surprisingly vast choice of dining options, ranging from traditional Nepali restaurants to the best of European fine dining. Here are 10 of the must-try local restaurants in Kathmandu.
Situated on a luxury shopping street, the Fire and Ice pizzeria offers the best of traditional Italian cuisine. Opened in 1995, the pizzeria has become a dining staple in Kathmandu, especially for the small expatriate community and well-off Nepali families. The pizzeria prides itself on offering a good mix of authentic, yet imported ingredients and the best of local produce. These are often used to create traditional Italian flavors, like home-made mozzarella cheese. The menu features a variety of traditional Italian dishes, including pasta and risotto, but leave room for the creamy and delicious gelato. Other good options are the freshly baked pizzas with varied toppings.
Built as a residence for a royal priest more than 150 years ago, the impressive four-story building of Bhojan Griha can nowadays host more than 250 people at once. Located in Dilli Bazar, the restaurant serves traditional Nepali food in charming surroundings, similar to Rana palaces all over Kathmandu. While sitting in a traditional manner on the colorful cotton cushions and savoring Nepali delicacies served in traditional brass ware, guests can enjoy regular cultural shows. These showcase traditional Nepali folk music and dance from the different regions, providing visitors a chance to truly immerse themselves in Nepali culture. Bhojan Griha also has a Kamasutra bar, appropriately decorated with traditional erotic wood carvings, commonly seen on the walls of temples all around Nepal.
It has been claimed that Yangling Tibetan restaurant serves the best momos in Kathmandu. As momos are to Nepal what burgers are to the USA, this can be considered as high culinary praise indeed. Along with momos, traditional Nepalese dumplings, stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables and served steamed or fried, this small and unpretentious family-run restaurant also features some other traditional dishes. Some of these include hefty thukpa, a traditional Nepali hot noodle soup, with pieces of meat and vegetables, and a tasty and rich Tibetan butter tea.
A recent newcomer to Kathmandu’s restaurant scene, Rosemary Kitchen and Coffee Shop features an exciting mix of European and Asian cuisine, using only organic produce from the local farms. A wide range of tastes are catered for, with dishes such as the adventurous Mexican breakfast, the fresh and simple Italian bruschetta, spicy Thai curry and traditional Nepali thali. The restaurant has a lovely open courtyard seating area, perfect for a coffee break or a glass of wine from the impressive wine collection.
Kaiser Café offers one of the most peaceful and relaxing dining experiences in Kathmandu, and a much needed getaway from the busy shopping streets of the Thamel district. Located in the premises of the lush Garden of Dreams, and practically opposite the Fire And Ice pizzeria, this restaurant mostly features a tasty mix of international dishes. A good range of traditional Austrian cuisine are also present, including such culinary delights as Wienerschnitzel and Viennese coffee. The light and serene atmosphere surrounding the neo-classical garden, along with the European-inspired architecture lends the place a particular European feel. Quieter during the week, at weekends the Garden of Dreams becomes a favorite haunt of young Nepalese couples.
A lively and artsy restaurant, OR2K can be found in the heart of the touristy Thamel district. The restaurant serves only vegetarian and vegan dishes, with a particular focus on Middle Eastern cuisine. With intimate candles and UV lighting during the evenings, walls covered in large, colorful paintings, and the seating arranged on the floor cushions alongside the low tea tables, OR2K offers its guests an easy-going and cozy atmosphere. The restaurant has a small rooftop terrace. The terrace is a perfect spot for sipping cocktails or trying some of the highlights of the menu, including hummus and the OR2K specialty platter.
Named after the an ethnic group in eastern Nepal who are highly regarded for their climbing and mountaineering skills, Le Sherpa probably offers one of the best fine-dining experiences in Kathmandu. Situated near the Japanese embassy, the restaurant features contemporary European cuisine in a luxurious yet simple setting. The dining area extends to a lovely open-air courtyard, surrounded by beautiful greenery, available both summer and winter, when the outdoor heaters and fireplace keeps the guests warm. Among the specialty dishes are delicious Sherpa soup, made from beans, radish, potato, and beef, and braised rabbit tortellini with wilted rocket, accompanied with a glass of a red or white wine from the vast wine cellar.
Situated within the charming grounds of Dwarika’s heritage hotel, the Krishnarpan restaurant features traditional upmarket Nepali cuisine in a warm and welcoming Newari atmosphere. Using only the fresh and organic produce from its own local farm, the restaurant heartily promotes the concept of slow dining, with traditional meals ranging from six to 22 courses. The Newari-inspired architecture and interior décor, for which the hotel recently won the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Heritage Award, creates an exceptionally authentic atmosphere. This is further enhanced by the meals served in traditional brass and earthen-ware and the waiters dressing in traditional costumes, representing different regions and ethnic communities.
Winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2014, Saigon Pho is the only Vietnamese restaurant in Kathmandu. Located across from the Shangri La hotel, the restaurant serves a variety of traditional Vietnamese and South Asian dishes. These include a hearty pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup made from broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat, fresh green papaya salad, and a variety of Vietnamese BBQ, including lemongrass pork and juicy prawns. The restaurant, decorated in a traditional Vietnamese style of dark wooden floors and bamboo mats, is spread over two floors, and has a lovely open air terrace, offering a view of the residential Lazimpat area.
Located on one of the main streets in a busy Thamel district, the legendary Utse Restaurant is popular for its mouth-watering and affordable Tibetan and traditional Nepali dishes. Utse, established in 1979 as part of the Utse hotel, claims to be the first restaurant in Kathmandu. The restaurant specializes in traditional Tibetan cuisine and is one of the rare places to try a hefty gacok, a traditional Tibetan stew for two made from a mix of meat, vegetables, mushrooms and noodles, and steamed for several hours in a charcoal-heated hot pot. The restaurant does get busy, especially during tourist season, so advance booking is recommended.