So I come from a family that runs to the nearest hills every summer for some chilling (quite literally). Living in the Northern part of India, our summers are as brutal as the winters. I have visited Dharamshala so many times (all thanks to the North Indian love for the mountains), that some restaurant owners have started recognizing my family. I’m also pretty conversant with all the places to visit in Dharamshala. When you visit a place often, you tend to look for new places to eat every time you step outside your cosy cottage. So that is how I found some of the finest cafes in Dharamshala. This place is a paradise for food lovers. In fact, the only reason I keep going back to the same place is because the food here is truly out of this world.
About Dharamshala and Mcleodganj:
Dharamshala is a small, hilly town that attracts travellers from different parts of the world all throughout the year. I’m using the word Dharamshala rather loosly; Mcleodgank, Dharamkot and Upper Baksu too would be included under this umbrella term. These places are extremely popular among foreigners who come here to see the land of Dalai Lama. Famous for its snow clad mountains, Mcleodganj and Dharamshala have some of the best cafes that serve food which is totally worth travelling for –
1. Moonlight Café:
Just above the main street, start your day with a steamy cup of ginger tea and Bhagsu cake which are the bestsellers of this café. Even burgers are quite epic here. The owner of the café is a warm, welcoming host. This place should be on your list if you want to enjoy your chai with a gorgeous view of the town surrounded by hills.
Location: Dharamkot, Dharamshala
Timing: 12 PM to 12 AM
Approx Budget: INR 200-300
2. Nick’s Italian Kitchen:
While the menu is mostly vegetarian, missing out on their delicious Banana Coffee Pies and mousse cakes would be a major loss. This place has a well-stocked library to keep you occupied while you wait for your plate of happiness to arrive. Their signature quiche slices are to die for.
Location: Bhagsunag Road, McLeod Ganj
Timing: 7.30 AM to 9 PM
Approx Budget: INR 150-300
3. Illiterati Café:
Described as the perfect place for the bookworms, this place is a gorgeous cozy corner for reading. Illiterati Café is heavily inspired by the European culture and serves some of the best lasagna, bruschetta and hummus plate. Their coffee is the star attraction. The wide variety of options to choose from will keep your taste buds happy along with helping you finish the book you have been meaning to read.
Location: Jogiwara Road, Dharamshala
Timing: 9.30 AM to 9 PM
Approx Budget: INR 200-400
4. Carpe Diem Café:
With a relaxing seating arrangement, this place gifts its visitors a beautiful view of the town. Carpe Diem serves mostly Mediterranean and Continental food. The walls of the café adorn the artifacts and pictures of the Nepali culture. Their pizzas, burritos, tacos, and salads are the major hits. Also, spam your social media with some gorgeous pictures of the landscape right outside the window of this cafe.
Location: Jogiwara Road, McLeod Ganj
Timing: 8 AM to 10.30 PM
Approx Budget: INR 200-400
5. Shiva Café:
This has to be the most famous café among foreigners and young Indians. Shiva Cafe in Mcleodganj has an interesting story attached to it. A young Muslim man named Touseef, went to the hills in search of peace and ended up starting the hippie culture in Himachal Pradesh. A Muslim man naming his café after a Hindu god speaks a lot about India’s secular vibe. A little away from the main town, Shiva Café serves heavenly pizzas. Head to this café for some chill vibes and meeting like-minded people.
Location: Near Bhagsunag waterfall pathway, Mcleodganj.
Timing: 10 AM to 8 PM
Approx Budget: INR 400 to 600
6. Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen:
This café lives up to its name and serves one of the best Italian dishes in the town. The walls painted in orange and decorated with framed pictures, this place gives out the vibe of Little Italy. With a variety of options to choose from, the pizzas, lasagna, pastas, smoothies, and shakes will make you go crazy! Whether or not you are a dessert person, you have to try their Lemon Cheesecake and Ginger Lemon Honey Tea. These two are the stars of this café.
Location: Near McLeod Ganj Main square
Timing: 8 AM to 10 PM
Approx Budget: INR 250-400
7. Sandy’s Kitchen:
For a perfect breakfast, head to Sandy’s Kitchen. This multi-storied café serves Italian, Indian, Chinese, Continental, Israeli and Greek cuisines. Their Nutella Pancakes and sandwiches are heavily ordered. Along with offering really satisfying food, this place also provides a spectacular view of the gorgeous waterfalls.
Location: Bhagsunag Waterfall Pathway
Timing: 7:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Approx Budget: INR 200-400
Traveling around this area has never been a problem as we have always relied on a reliable car rental service in Dharamshala. It has definitely helped me find these gems without much difficulty. One can also book a cab from Delhi for hassle-free traveling to destinations like Dharamshala.
In case your list has more new places, share it with me so I can try them the next time I visit the place. The hills have a way of making us want to come back over and over again.
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Last Updated on April 18, 2021 by Ruchika Poddar