Where to eat in McLeod Ganj – A Guide to the best cafes and restaurants

Hey lovelies!

I spent a couple of days in McLeod Ganj and the weather played spoil sport the entire time. It was misty and raining non-stop! I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t do much sightseeing – it’s no fun when you can’t make out the vibrancy of the monasteries or see the lush landscape in all its glory! I was hoping to bump into the Dalai Lama at his residence too, but I didn’t end up going because the weather was so darn dreary!

mcleod ganj travelogue

What I did do (the only thing I could) was try out some of the restaurants and cafes in McLeod Ganj. I will hopefully make another trip back to this little Tibetan town in fairer weather and will have more to report then, but for now, here are some places I tried, and one place that I recommend you avoid.

ILLITERATI CAFE – Have you ever been to one of those places where you walk through the door and think “I can live here all my life!” That’s how I felt at Illiterati Café. Located away from the main market area, it is perched on the cliff with a view that would have been spectacular, had it not been for the unsightly buildings under construction in front of it.

The walls are almost covered with books, neatly arranged on bookshelves, the music playlist is perfect for someone who grew up in the 90’s – and the food! Amazeballs! Sip on a strong cappuccino or hot chocolate as you watch the mist cover the landscape. The burgers and mozzarella sticks are decent, but the carrot cake had me on cloud 9! This is a wonderful place for digital nomads to work out of – with ample plug points and chilled-out staff. Remember to carry your own internet connection.

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cafe in mcleod ganj

WELCOME CAFE – Located in Lower Dharamkot, you will have to walk uphill on a road lined with boutiques and souvenir shops, and further on, past a bunch of local homes to get there. The entrance looks a little shady, but the restaurant is like most hippie cafes in the area. I visited on Friday night – which happened to be Sufi Night! The music, the candlelight, ambience and the fantabulous food made it one of my best experiences in McLeod Ganj. The chicken schnitzel and egg salad were bang-on perfect and I saw most of the patrons thoroughly enjoying their meals too! Worth a visit!

LUCKY STAR CAFE – Definitely was NOT a fan of this place! It is located pretty close to Welcome Café, but I don’t think the food can get any worse. Please avoid the Pad Thai, it has a rancid smell. The Hummus was too dry to swallow and sorely lacked that creamy texture. However, the juices were good though. The seating is on mattresses on the floor and I saw quite a few rats running around on the mattresses further away. In short, I just couldn’t wait to leave!

CLAY OVEN – Thanks to a tip from one of you lovelies on Instagram, I made it a point to search for this place in the pouring rain – and it was worth it! Located right at the main circle in the McLeod Ganj Market, Clay Oven is a no-frills, family-friendly eatery serving some yummy Tibetan delicacies. The fried momos are among the most flavourful I’ve ever had – and I wanted to order another plateful! The desserts, arranged beautifully in the glass display case were calling out my name, but I resisted! Victory!!

clay oven mcleod ganj

COFFEE TALK –This particular café piqued my interest when I kept seeing a dozen maroon-robe clad Buddhist monks sitting inside every single time I passed by! Locals know of the best places to eat and so I had to find out why the monks kept coming here even though there are dozens of cafes on the same street. The coffees are great, but give the Banana Toffee Cake a try – it’s too indulgent to eat alone, mind you! Another plus point is that this café is situated exactly opposite the paid-parking zone in McLeod Ganj market, so if you don’t want to walk uphill and down, this one is for you! Maybe it’s the monk-effect, but the place did seem a lot happier and more cheerful on a muggy day.

There’s something about the weather in McLeod Ganj that demands you have a cup of something warm in your hands at all times. And there are endless cafes to try out in the main market area. If you’ve ever visited and have a favourite, drop me a comment below and let me know! I will be going back and would love to stop by!

You may also like to read some restaurants I love in Pondicherry and Candolim, Goa!

Signing off for now! Toodles!

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