Top Cheap Darjeeling Restaurants
I am usually not too fond of eating out in roadside eateries or small unknown restaurants that may look not so inviting. But over the years during my numerous stays in Darjeeling, I have discovered a few eateries that are not only cheap, but with the quality of homemade food they serve and the casual friendly atmosphere they provide, they have created little brands for themselves.
Those who know them and experienced them, keep returning to the lovely little eateries, some of which may not even qualify to be called as formal restaurants. Some look like shacks. If you are with your family, you may initially hesitate to get in.
All these small cheap restaurants are local family owned businesses, some run by Tibetans, some by Nepalis and others by Bhutias.
Many of these eateries are favorites of foreigners. The reason being that the foreigners tend to research a lot more before they come and find the cozy places that offer great value for money and at the same time ensuring enough hygiene. And I say hygiene because you will be surprised to see that most offer packaged mineral water.
So, what kind of food do you get in these cheap restaurants? Actually wide varieties, but predominantly Chinese, Tibetan and Nepali dishes. Because this is what the foreigners prefer who are their main customers. But they do welcome all. In some, you will get the typical north Indian spicy dishes as well.
But being small businesses, they keep limited stocks. So unless you go early (say by 7:30pm for dinner), you might often find them having run out of stock.
And do not plan to eat there in a large group... there may not be that many seats (these eateries are mostly small) and they may struggle to offer good service to large groups.
Having been in the business of serving tourists for long, most of the owners of these small eateries have surprisingly learned to communicate fluently in English. Of course they do speak Hindi and their native language as well.
In my sections below, I'll often take references to local food like momos, thukpas and also of other Indian dishes that are readily available in Darjeeling. If you are not familiar with those, then check out Darjeeling Local Food & Drinks
to know about them
Here are my top picks out of the cheap restaurants in Darjeeling. I have mentioned the primary cuisine they serve next to their names. A 10% tip is appropriate.
(Chinese & Tibetan, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Tourists hardly know about this place at the time when I am writing this article. It's a little gem which is tucked on an uphill lane away from the noisy crowd but yet close to the town center and only 3-4 minute walk from Keventer's.
If you are craving to have authentic Tibetan food, then do not think any further. The food will be made by the owner-lady herself right from the scratch and right in front of you in an open kitchen and served piping hot.
Since she prepares the food fresh and all by herself, it can take a while to get your food on the table. There are only 4-5 tables, the restaurant is small, but very friendly and inviting.
My favorites here are Chicken Kothey (half-steamed and half-fried momos) as starters, Tingmo (steamed Tibetan bread) along with Chicken Shpata (Tibetan chicken curry), and Vanila Custard as desserts. There are many other Tibetan delights on the menu other than regula Chinese dishes as well as desserts. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
(Chinese & Tibetan, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
It's a small restaurant with three tables on each side and located right on Gandhi Road and below the Dekeling Hotel. The location is right next to the taxi stand and where the Nehru road for Chowrasta Mall begins. Unless you go well in advance, you will most likely need to wait.
Sometimes the tables are joined and you may need to share the table with others. This is a favorite haunt for the foreigners due to the steaming hot but non-spicy food they serve.
My favorite here is the Wanton Soup which is almost a meal by itself. It comes with several momos dipped in noodle soup and vegetables. Although it's called a soup, it's really quite filling. Also don't miss out on the lemon tea with ginger and honey that not only tastes great but looks exotic with its golden tinge.
(Chinese & Tibetan, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Another small restaurant located right next to Kunga in the same building. The approach to this ground floor restaurant is from Gandhi road. It's owned by the Dekavas family who own the Dekeling hotel located upstairs.
Although small, it has little more space than Kunga and a bit more organized being part of a well known hotel. While they prepare great Chinese dishes, they are best known in the hill town for their delicious momos.
(Pasta, Pancakes, Breakfast & Dinner)
A little unassuming gem, this small restaurant is located on Zakir Hussain road, a few minutes walk from the Chowrasta Mall. With just three tables for seating, Sonam and her husband Puran run this small family owned business.
In breakfast, my favorites here are the toast and the special omelet with vegetables and followed by the great lemon tea with ginger and honey. If you like to eat a little heavy, try out the set breakfast.
(Nepali cuisine, lunch & dinner)
This is a tiny eatery located below Keventer's and on Robertson's Road at the taxi stand area. It serves great traditional Nepali food, but it's best known to the locals as well as tourists for the Nepali Thali it serves during lunch and dinner.
This small eatery is owned by a local family. The interior is small but cozy and homely with many pictures of old Darjeeling on display and soft music playing at the background.
Other than chicken/ veg/ pork thalis, you can get various other meat items here including sausages, chicken and pork chili, dry fried meat items including chicken, pork and eveb buffalo meat (known as Sukuti).
(Nepali cuisine, lunch & dinner)
This is another gem and literally hidden from the plain eyes. It's not easy to find the place. If you are a first timer, you will almost certainly need to a ask a local for the directions.
Kathmandu Kitchen is a small restaurant specializing in authentic Nepali cuisine. It's located on HD Lama Road on a stairway. Once you get near State Bank of India on Ladenla Road, you can ask somebody to show you the way... it's only a minute's walk from there.
The interior decor is charming with lots of Nepali exhibits on the walls. Lily, the owner, and the staff are very welcoming and will ensure that you understand the menu.
There are four types of Nepali thalis (platters)... Sekua (grilled meat), Choila (spicy meat), Saadheko (salad type), and curry. And you will get each type on veg, chicken, pork, mutton and even buffalo meat.
The thalis are served on bell-metal utensils and have many accompaniments including rice, daal (lentil soup), sabji (could be potato with bamboo shoots), pickles (gundruk ki aachar is excellent), papad, etc. Rice, daal etc are served unlimited.
Sekua Thali is the one I love the most, but all dishes have bold flavors and distinct taste, and cooked to perfection. Portions are wholesome and enough for a full meal.
They also offer several other Newari dishes. Newar is an ethnic community in Nepal well known for preparing flavorful Nepali cuisine. Such dishes include Bara (pancake made with black lentil), Chattamari (Nepali style pizzas), Dhido (a traditional Nepali staple), etc. And you get topping options of veg, egg, chicken, mutton, pork or even prawn.
The menu also has soups, momos, noodles, fried rice, etc of various types which you can have with side dishes. In dessert, try out the Kheer. There are also hot and cold beverages in the menu including tea, coffee, lassi, shakes, etc.
They are open daily for lunch and dinner. Price range is Rs. 200 - 300 for a thali.
(Vegetarian Indian, Chinese & Tibetan food, Lunch/Dinner)
Right on Nehru Road and on the left as you walk towards the Mall, this large and spacious restaurant has been there for quite some time. Earlier they used to display the sample dishes in front in the showcase. But no longer so.
However, food continues to be popular and reasonably priced. You will get all sorts of vegetarian food like Indian, South Indian, Chinese and even momos and Indian snacks like Chole Batore and chats.
As you enter the long section of the restaurant, walk down to the end crossing the open kitchen on the left and you will see another smaller section on the left with a great view of the mountains and the valley. This is the place to sit.
(Vegetarian Indian & International Menu, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
As the name suggests, its more like a cafe rather than a formal restaurant. Located on Nehru Road on the left as you walk towards the Mall, this restaurant offers a nice ambience with hanging table lights that look really attractive in the evening.
It's run by the same family that owns the Frank Ross-Pharmacy right adjacent to the eatery on the left.
Offering strictly vegetarian food, there are wide range of dishes including sandwiches & burgers, Italian items like pizzas and spaghettis, Mexican items like Tacos and Nachos, and even South Indian dishes like dosas and idlys. Other than these, they also offer Indian snacks and vegetarian Chinese dishes, and of course tea and coffee.
(Naga, Nepali, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
This budget restaurant is part of the Revolver hotel and run by the local couple Asnenla and Vikash Pradhan. They have converted their family house into a hotel / restaurant with great passion and taste. This simple, friendly yet elegant restaurant serves mind blowing Naga and local Nepali dishes that you will seldom find anywhere else in Darjeeling.
They are all home made and served steaming hot. You will only get dinner here (no lunch) and will need to book the meal in advance. Revolver is located on Gandhi road at a 10 minutes walking distance from the taxi stand.
(Tibetan & Chinese food Vegetarian, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Will you call it a restaurant? It's actually a tin shack located on Jawahar road that leads to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute & Zoo. It's run by a couple. You can actually walk it from the Mall Road. Once you take a look at all the comments on the guest book, the only thing you can say is WoW!
With a lovely view on one side of the restaurant and a casual homelike atmosphere, you can spend hours sitting here while enjoying the great vegetarian momos, thukpas and tea. You do get egg items here like egg burgers. Another attraction here is they serve homemade light beer as well. There is a small open terrace on the backside.
(Chinese, Indian cuisine, lunch & dinner)
This restaurant is located on the busy Ladenla road and tucked behind the rows of taxis on the stand. This restaurant has been existing for a long time. There is nothing much special about it except for its wide choices of Indian, Chinese and even some Tibetan food.
In Chinese, you get all the standard dishes including chowmeins, chopsueys, fried rice and side dishes. All of them come choices of veg, chicken or pork preparations.
In Indian cuisine, they make tarkas, veg/ chicken/ pork curries, paneer items, etc that you can have with rice or breads. They make nice momos (veg, chicken and pork).
They also offer lassi and shakes. Try out the banana lassi or the chocolate milk shake. Dafey Munal serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also have bar services.
1) If you like to explore more restaurants & eateries in Darjeeling giving you wider choice of food and cuisine, then check out Darjeeling Restaurants Guide
Rob Flack (December 2019)
Hi Raj, Thanks for the information. Very helpful to know. I will happily review the trip once its completed. Also, are you able to help in anyway of rough daily food costs? Just trying to get an idea of how much I will require daily for sustenance. Kind regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2019
Hi, the daily meal cost will entirely depend on the kind of eateries where you take your food... there are low budget eateries to upscale restaurants and the prices vary widely.
Assuming you take your breakfast and meals in a mid-range restaurant like Glenary's or The Park... you will spend about INR 1,200 per day (including breakfast, lunch and dinner, and ordering one main and one side dish without any alcoholic drinks).
There are also several budget yet nice eateries like Sonam's Kitchen (good for BF and lunch), Kunga (serving Tibetan/Chinese food), Frankross (vegetarian) which are quite popular with foreigners and they are quite cheaper... you can plan with a daily budget of around INR 650 - 700.