A Guide To Darjeeling Restaurants
So what kind of restaurant are you looking for in Darjeeling? Of course it depends on the type of cuisine or food you like. But it also depends on so many other factors right? Like the quality of food, the location of the restaurant, upscale or budget eatery, ambience, cleanliness... there are actually so many things that you wish to have in place before you go for one.
And then when you finally choose one, you might still come out saying "I would never come here again... the service is so pathetic!". Well, the objective of this restaurant guide here is to bridge those gaps as much as possible. And the only way to do that would be through real life experience.
So in the reviews of restaurants below, I have selected the ones where we have dined regularly over the past many years or explored the eateries being a travel writer myself.
While all the restaurants and eateries are not equally good in all aspects, they do have their own charm for their target guests. Choice of restaurants in a hill town like Darjeeling depends a lot on personal preferences, ambience and past memories of the returning tourists.
So you will likely hear different stories and reviews from different visitors on the same restaurant. But more often such impressions reflect an experience of a single instance where one may have unfortunately had a bad time which can happen in any restaurant in the world or was overwhelmed by the offerings of the day for some reason.
To be fair and to judge a restaurant by its real merit, one would need to experience it more than once and try out different food. In my list of restaurants below, I have tried to bring out the finer aspects through our many experiences so that you know which ones are really meant for you. Some may be meant for others. As I said earlier, it would be inappropriate to stamp one as good, bad or ugly since they serve different clienteles with different tastes and preferences.
While dining in Darjeeling, keep in mind that the hill town goes off to sleep by 8:30pm. Most restaurants, particularly the smaller ones go out of stock by 7:30pm during the high season and stop taking further orders. Therefore during high season, if you haven't taken your dinner by 8:30pm, it's likely that you will struggle to get a good meal in a restaurant, particularly so if you are in a large group. Some restaurants like Glenary's stays open till about 10pm. But in high seasons, there is often a long queue that starts from outside waiting for tables to get free.
Before you start scanning the list of restaurants below and go through their reviews, here is something that you may like to consider: for a great cheap eatery, check out Top Cheap Restaurants
and know about the ones that are our personal favorites in the budget category.
Or, if you like to go for a relatively upscale restaurant and dine with your family or someone special, check out Best of Darjeeling Restaurants
to know about the ones that have established themselves over the years with their quality food, elegant ambience and service. We love them whenever we are in mood to indulge and spend a little more.
I would always advice you to buy and drink mineral or packaged drinking water at the restaurants instead of the ones they serve free. If there is a real quality issue in Darjeeling, it is in the drinking water and we would never take a chance here.
Even in the best of restaurants in Darjeeling you can find flaws. For example don't expect a top notch professional service in a laid back hill town like this. If you are in real hurry, then go for a fast food place instead.
In a restaurant, be prepared to let the waiters and chefs take their own sweet time to serve. Chat with them to know about life in the hills and many stories which they gladly share.
That's the way to dine and enjoy food here - in a real laid back way :-)
As you go through the list of restaurants below, you will see that against each I have mentioned the following:
(1) Category of the restaurant which may be budget that stands for a cheap eatery, mid-priced which means a regular restaurant, or upscale that are costlier and offer relatively better and formal ambience. Update August 2016: An average dining cost (non-veg) for a family or group of three in a budget category restaurant would be around Rs. 500 - 800, in mid-priced category Rs. 1200 - 1500, in upscale category Rs. 1800 - 2500, without alcoholic drinks.
(2) The primary Cuisine or the type of food they serve.
(3) The Location of the restaurant, and
(4) The overall inside Ambience and any outside views to enjoy.
With such a snapshot view if you think you have spotted one that you like, then click the link of the restaurant to find my detailed reviews and experience along with pictures. The whole idea of this guide is to let you imagine the dining experience before you really go and eat there :-)
Restaurants & Cafe (Listed Alphabetically)
Cuisine: Snacks & Coffee - you know the standard stuff they serve, it's no different here.
Location: On the Chowrasta Mall
Ambience: Large room with outdoor terrace seating with great views of the mountains.
Cuisine: Bengali and other Indian dishes, Chinese
Location: DB Thapa Road, close to the taxi stand & Clock Tower. Part of Chanakya hotel.
Ambience: Large dining room with ordinary decor. Good views from the windows.
Cuisine: Chinese, Indian & Tibetan
Location: Laden La Road, right at the taxi stand and close to the Clock Tower.
Ambience: Mid size restaurant with small tables. Window-side tables have glimpses of the valley.
Cuisine: Chinese, Tibetan, Continental and Pizzas
Location: On Gandhi Road, right next to the taxi stand and below Dekeling Hotel
Ambience: Small but organized. No views.
Cuisine: Tibetan, Chinese, South Indian
Location: At the Mall opposite to the Nehru Road entrance too the Mall.
Ambience: Great view of the Chowrasta Mall. There is also a small outside seating.
Cuisine: Indian, Tibetan and International like Italian, Mexican and others. Only vegetarian.
Location: Nehru Road next to the Frank Ross Pharmacy
Ambience: Long narrow space with cozy seating with hanging lights. Good view at the end.
Location: Zakir Hussain road, 10 minute walk from the Mall (Chowrasta)
Ambience: It's a essentially a music Lounge & Bar serving drinks and western food. Music plays till late night. There is often a live band in the evenings during high season. Nice & cozy ambience.
Cuisine: Tea and Snacks
Location: On the Mall
Ambience: Nice lounge, cozy & spacious and opening out to great views at the end.
Location: On Nehru road on the way to the Mall
Ambience: Large elegant & spacious dining room with great views on one side. Has a bar.
Cuisine: Vegetarian North & South Indian, Tibetan and Chinese
Location: On busy Nehru Road on the way to the Mall.
Ambience: Large popular restaurant with regular & fast food items. Great views from one end.
HMI Restaurant & Tea Parlour (Category: Mid-Priced)
Cuisine: Indian, Chinese and snack items.
Location: At the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute premises, Jawahar Road
Ambience: A mid size restaurant offering breakfast and lunch.
Cuisine: Vegetarian food - mostly Tibetan & Chinese, also serves some egg items, veg burgers and homemade beer.
Location: On Jawahar road and on the way to HMI & Zoo. Will require some walk from the Chowrasta Mall.
Ambience: Small tin shack with six tables. Great views from one side.
Cuisine: Tea Bar. Range of Goodricke's Darjeeling Tea, snacks and ice cream
Location: On Nehru Road that leads to the Mall
Ambience: A tea lounge. Quite spacious and cozy. Great views at the end.
Cuisine: Sandwiches, Eggs & Sausages and snack items. Famous for English breakfast.
Location: At the beginning of Nehru road that leads to the Mall.
Ambience: Upstairs both in-room (small) and terraced seating with great views.
Cuisine: Chinese & Tibetan
Location: On Gandhi Road, right next to the taxi stand and below Dekeling Hotel
Ambience: Very small, few tables and favorite of many foreign tourists. No views.
Cuisine: Only Vegetarian, North & South Indian, Chinese
Location: On Gandhi road opposite to the taxi stand and at the 2nd floor.
Ambience: Large bright dining room with great views from the window side tables.
Cuisine: Range of Darjeeling Tea, cakes and snacks
Location: At the Mall
Ambience: A tea lounge. Small with tables having great view of the valley.
Cuisine: Mainly Thai. You also get Chines & Other dishes.
Location: On Laden La Road opposite to State Bank Building and close to the Clock Tower.
Ambience: Elegant large dining room with a bar at the entrance. Nice view on one side.
Cuisine: Chinese, Tibetan, Nepali. Well known for momos (which are like chicken and pork dumplings), and also well known for traditional Nepali thali. You can also try out the chili chicken noodles.
Location: Laden La Road opposite to Big Bazaar (i.e. Rink Mall) and near State Bankf of India on an alley.
Ambience: Not so appealing but serves authentic Nepali thali (both veg & non-veg). Update 2016: The restaurant has been renovated recently and looks much better and cleaner.
Petrichor (Category: Budget) X Closed
Cuisine: Pasta, pancakes, burritos, french toasts, beer (an art cafe)
Location: On Zakir Hussain Road. Some 15 minutes walk from the Mall
Ambience: Cozy, low couches with colorful walls. living room setting with artwork on display.
Cuisine: Naga, Nepali and Local Cuisine
Location: Gandhi Road, about 10 minutes walk from Keventer's or the Clock Tower
Ambience: Cozy living room setting with low couches. Also dining tables & chairs on one side.
Cuisine: Pasta, Pancakes, Sandwiches (breakfast & dinner)
Location: On Zakir Hussain Road that leads from the Mall. Few minutes walk.
Ambience: Very small, few tables and favorite of many foreign tourists. No scenic views.
Cuisine: Multi-cuisine - Indian, Chinese and Tibetan.
Location: On Nehru Road close to Mall and on the ground floor of Shangri-La Hotel
Ambience: Elegant large wood finish dining room with a bar at the end.
Zoo Cafe (Category: Mid-Priced)
Cuisine: Indian, Chinese and snack items
Location: Inside the HMI & Zoo complex. Jawahar Road.
Ambience: Quite large and spacious restaurant popular with the HMI visitors for lunch.
Apart from the proper restaurants and cafes, Darjeeling also offers some special treats. There are resident individuals and locals who prepare delicious homemade items like cakes and cupcakes for both local homes and tourists. You won't get these heavenly goodies anywhere else.
The Cake Lady as she is known, Helly is a New Zealander now settled in Darjeeling and prepares mouthwatering cakes at her home. She gets her cakes delivered to hotels, homes and shops.
Originally from Darjeeling, Anjita returned to the hill town to make amazing cupcakes. This has been her longtime passion. Taste a cupcake and figure out what a sheer passion can create.
2) Darjeeling Local Food & Drinks
: Know all about the popular local food & cuisine in Darjeeling including local beverages & drinks and the best places to try them out.
Rajiv Chanda (March 2013)
Hi Raj, Thanks a ton for your reply and suggestion. I forgot to mention in earlier mail that we have booked hotel Revolver. We were looking for a good budget hotel and came across your site and saw your recommendation . It really seems to be the best alternative in the budget segment. Could you suggest a restaurant there that servers Jain Dishes. Looking forward to Darjeeling trip. Warm regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2013
The restaurant at Viceroy Hotel (along Gandhi road and few minutes walk from your hotel) serves nice Jain food. But it's a little pricey though being part of a 4-star hotel. Another option is Hasty Tasty, a vegetarian restaurant on Nehru Road, also within walking distance.