Darjeeling is like herding cats while rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic – it can be quite a task to create a list that includes new cafes and other gems hidden away in nooks, crannies and inside lodges and hotels. The thing to do is to look beyond old favourites like Keventer’s; there’s no shortage of stellar cafés which knock it out of the park with simple bites and piping hot tea or coffee.
10 best cafes in Darjeeling.
Gatty’s CaféIf you fancy some live music, world cinema, documentaries or sports matches with your coffee, try Gatty’s – an uber cool cafe with a lounge-like vibe. They serve up excellent local food and sandwiches, homemade pastas, ravioli and lasagna. You can hang out on the low couches with your cup of Lavazza and some sandwiches, browsing through books, playing Scrabble, using the free wi-fi, or chatting with hip locals. Gatty’s has a small but well-stocked bar. You could and end up staying late – this is the only place with some action after 9pm with live music, open mike and karaoke. And dancing is often part of the fun. The owner Gautam (or Gatty) is friendly and ready to help with travel tips. He runs a biking tours company and rents out premium bicycles. Location: Dr. Zakir Hussain Road
Sonam’s KitchenThe coffee here is good enough to make you forget that you are in the world’s top tea destination. Sonam’s is also known for the generous breakfast of pancakes or porridge (served with banana slices and gooey honey), buttery toast and eggs with fried tomatoes and great bread. But the best part is the hash browns and chunky wholemeal sandwiches. They also have a great collection of books. Location: Dr Zakir Hussain Road
Hot Stimulating CaféThis is a cosy eatery on the way to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, on Hooker Road. It is perched on the edge of a steep drop, surrounded by greenery and serves only tea and momos. They offer informal momo-making classes for a small fee. The owner, Rumba, is a Bob Marley fan (the walls of the café are covered with the musician’s photos) and looks a lot like Carlos Santana. The café gets its share of mysticism thanks to the egg shells Rumba has hung on the trees to fend off ‘evil spirits’. The café is known for its masala chai with ground cardamom, cinnamon, clove and black pepper. Location: Hooker Road
FoodstepsThis charming and spacious café offers an all-day breakfast with waffles and pancakes, organic foods, vegan dishes and a range of gluten-free baked foods, multi-grain breads and grilled sandwiches. You can order the baked stuff à la carte or with a range of afternoon set teas. On the way out, pick up a bagful of delicious homemade cookies. Their range covers chewy flapjacks, peanuts and molasses, almond and chocolate, biscottis and more. Location: Nehru Road (near Chaurasta)
Kunga’sIf you want to go local for breakfast, head to Kunga’s. Their steamed momos and noodle soups are legendary. They also have the usual cereals, muesli, juice and fruit curd. The place is family-run and its wooden walls are covered with Tibetan scrolls, and Buddhist motifs. We declare it your duty to try their shafales, Tibetan meat pies, and gyathuks, a creamy soup with thick spaghetti-like noodles and meat. Kunga’s counts Hindi film actor Ranbir Kapoor among its fans – he had “freaked out” on Kunga’s Tibetan delicacies during a film shoot. Location: Gandhi Road
Read More: Best Craft beer Breweries of Mumbai