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Best Places to Eat in Leh, Ladakh | Tibetan & Non-Tibetan Food

This was my third trip to Ladakh, first was way back in 2005 when Leh was not even on the domestic tourist map. Second one was last year in 2022 and almost a year later; I was back in Leh, waiting to head off to explore eastern Ladakh. Exotic and starkly beautiful, the region of Leh Ladakh, tucked away in the northernmost reaches of our country, is a dream destination for many adventurers. However, it's not just the breathtaking landscapes and the serenity of its monasteries that make this place so special. The unique culinary experience that the region offers is an adventure in itself. Here are some of the best places to eat in Leh Ladakh. Believe me, it took a lot of eating to get you this list. It's personally approved by me...a self acclaimed foodie.

My favourite would be Bon Appetit. Although it strays a bit from the traditional cuisine, it still is a gem that offers an amazing view of the Stok range of mountains along with finger licking goodness. The restaurant specializes in fusion food, combining local ingredients with international recipes. I especially recommend their version of Rosemary Naan with roasted olives as a starter and the juiciest mutton skewers you will ever eat as starters. After your appetite is tickled, order the Fish for mains if you want a healthy meal or go carb loading with the Carbonara that comes with a side of amazing olive oil and best quality bacon. Their Yak cheese pasta and Ladakhi Pizza topped with local vegetables are also a hit with their patrons. This place gets the top place for its views and food.

But if you are hell-bent on eating only local cuisine, then head to the famous 'The Tibetan Kitchen'. This is probably the best place for Tibetan and Ladakhi cuisine. This restaurant offers an extensive menu along with a charming outside seating but a sparse yet welcoming indoor seating for the windy nights. From the traditional Thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) to Momos (dumplings), and the local Ladakhi dish Skyu, you'll find many delectable delights to tantalize your taste buds. Try the classic dish that walks the fine line between satisfying the international palate and fulfilling the traditional craving; the Bagleb. It is almost like cross between a lamb mince pie with deep fried bread. Their best offering in desserts is the fried banana toffee; basically balls of ripe banana mash served with sweetener of your choice; honey or nutella.

If you are ready to travel a bit for your nosh, then head to the model village of Saboo. There, nestled amongst the most beautiful snow capped mountains you will find Ladakh Sarai. It is a boutique hotel with amazing restaurants. Their Indian cuisine is as good as their Ladakhi servings. But do call ahead and check if they are willing to serve a walk-in customer. We called and requested, and they obliged. In Indian, you can avoid the mutton as the mountain goats are a bit chewy; apart from that go ahead and pick whatever you wish as the quality of food is unmatched and so are the views.

Now let’s list out a few budget friendly places also. Lamayuru Restaurant, located on Fort Road, is another great place to savor local dishes. The restaurant is particularly famous for its Tibetan food, including delicious Thukpa and Momos. Its cozy atmosphere and affordable prices make it a favorite amongst travelers. It’s a no frills place but the man behind the counter is one of the friendliest and most helpful person I have ever encountered in Leh. Another place to taste authentic Ladakhi cuisine is Summer Harvest. It offers a range of local dishes, often made with organic produce sourced from their own garden. Their speciality, the Ladakhi platter, offers a bit of everything - from the hearty Skyu to the refreshing Chhupri (Yak cheese), and Tsampa, a staple Ladakhi food made of barley flour.

Moving back to slightly pricey nosh, you must try the Yakhani Pulao at the Namza cafe. It is a restaurant attached to a designer boutique. I loved the aesthetics of the place, but it does have a neat price tag to it. You can always walk in for their cheesecakes or the specialty teas, if you don't wish to spend too much but want to visit.

Now I am losing patience but the list is still unfinished. So I will curtail my detailed explanations.

For one of the best thin crust crispy freshly baked pizzas, head to Lehvanda cafe in the main Leh market. It also serves great coffee and is great for people watching from their outdoor balcony seating. Their croissants are also worth a crumbly bite.

For the best coffee and homemade cakes, head to Bodhisattva in the main market, not too fat from Lehvanda. Their carrot and nut cake was my favourite pick. Also for the Coke Zero lovers, this probably one of those rare places that stocks it....not diet coke....coke zero. Those who know, they know.

For one of the best views and warm Ladakhi nosh, head to the Himalayan Cafe on the second floor of a non-descript commercial complex. It has a great Mutton Shaptak which is served with steaming Tingmo bread. The momos and Spring rolls border on average but the Shaptak makes upo for the effort put in the trip.

Leh Ladakh is a food lover's paradise, offering a blend of unique and varied culinary experiences. From local Ladakhi and Tibetan cuisines to innovative fusion dishes, there's something for everyone. So, the next time you're planning a trip to this beautiful region, make sure to explore these culinary hotspots and indulge in a gastronomic adventure like no other.

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