We usually toss a coin to decide between two extremes. Batting or bowling, leaving or staying and many more such dilemmas. Success and Failure, however, are on two opposite sides of a coin which both eventually lead to the same decision – ‘Travel’ . You succeed, you travel to celebrate. You fail, you travel to make peace with it. Eventually, both ways you have stories to tell. After a long hiatus on the blog, I return with stories to tell.
No prizes for guessing the hero of my story. Food. The story is based in the picturesque town of McleodGanj- a suburb of Dharamsala in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. There is a lot more to tell about the history of the place, but my story takes you around the cafes in this beautiful town. What to eat and what not to eat. There is a slim chance that you will find the latter recommendation though.
The Tibetan Government in-exile is headquartered in McleodGanj. Very appropriately I will start my story from a couple of places serving authentic Tibetan food.
Located very close to the main McleodGanj Square, Tibet Kitchen serves one of the most authentic Chinese and Tibetan food in Mcleodganj. It also has a few Bhutanese dishes to offer. I ordered a Chicken Datse (also known as Datshi) with Tingmo Bread (pronounced as tee-mo) and Fried Chicken Momos. Try almost anything at this place and you will not return disappointed.
My feel: Spend a good time with your family and do not miss a view of the hustle bustle at the square from their balcony.
Fried Chicken Momos
Four Seasons Cafe
Stand outside this place and you will feel a whiff of warm fresh air kissing your face. The warmth comes from the lady who runs this place. I loved the facade of this cafe which had a very sweet four column window and a small door. Interiors are all orange and well lighted and a symbol of the religious / spiritual inclination. Do not miss the cute little book shelf in the cafe.
My feel: Sit and catch up with an old friend on cold winter evening.
Tibet Quality Bakery
I intentionally did not save the bakers for the last. I reserve that space for my favourite cafe. Located right next to the post office and right in the middle of the Jogiwara Road stretch, this was my go to place every morning. Trying new cakes just became a routine start to the day and how I miss it still. Special mention to the Coffee Walnut Cake for the very gooey and homely base and the Rum Raisin, amongst many that I tried. Get the Rum Raisin cake warmed for drool worthy results. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be the latter. This bakery also sells Yak Cheese during winters.
My Feel: Just keep eating without worrying about the calories
I would rate this one above the Tibet Quality bakery. It is one of the most quaint places you will find around. You are bound to fall in love with this place. Cute and quaint. The lady who runs this place has a kitchen where she bakes all her desserts and in that kitchen itself she has placed two tables for the customers to sit. She will continue with her work as you relish the lovely desserts she has to offer. Interestingly, she is a self learned baker and has learnt the entire art by watching videos and through the internet. She has not attended any classes and trust me, you would probably taste the most fresh cakes at this place. Please do visit and do order the Home Made Cappuccino for sure.
My feel: Take ‘her’ for a coffee to Woeser Bakery
Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen
For all those driving down from Delhi to McleodGanj, this one is home away from home for all of you. This one is a replica of The Big Chill Cafe. From the decor, to the menu, to the presentation of the food, this place seems highly inspired from the Big Chill Cafe. This place is highly recommended for their breakfast, in addition to the Italian they offer. I did not try the breakfast but after some interaction with a few people around I was recommended that Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen near the square, on the road towards Dharamkot has a better breakfast to offer. I would recommend their Gnocchi Pasta and fresh fruit juices.
My Feel: Hog.Period.
My search for that peace of food took me to the Seed Cafe. Quite a peaceful place with very interesting decor. Mr. Morrison to welcome you and Mr. Hendrix to sing along inside. At this location, that part of the story unfolds where you would want to ditch your gang and sit at a place without being found. I would also suggest you to be alert enough to spot this cafe as you walk around in McLeodganj. For those privileged ones reading this post, you can find this at a distance of 1 kilometre from the square, as you walk from the square towards the Dalai Lama Temple Road.Sit and read. Sit and do nothing probably.
My Feel: The Hide Out Cafe (“Don ko pakadna mushkil he nahi, namumkin hai…” if Don chooses to hide here)
Illiterati Books and Coffee
*Drum rolls* And my favourite location on the sets of my story was this cafe full of books and lots of food. Illiterati was started by a Belgian almost about 3-4 years ago and an year ago he had to leave India and go back. That is when, Nalin who hails from Dharamsala and his friends decided to continue running this place. Whether you sit in the balcony staring at the Dhauladhar Ranges and sipping coffee or you sit inside in the company of hundreds of books, you are bound to find this place cozy and fall in love with it. Not only the place, you will also fall in love with Bhai Saab. The cute little Dachshund.
My Feel: Sit all day. Coffee. Read. Write. Chill
These were my favourite seven places to visit in McleodGanj. However, other than these do not forget to indulge in the randomness associated with the hills. The little joys the hills offer in the form of Maggi stories, Chai stories and more. Snippets from my joyous time.
Moral of the Story: Whether success or failure, life is all about living in the present, enjoying the small joys that life brings your way.
Live in the present and eat, you never know tomorrow the food might turn stale 🙂