Pokhara is a Mecca for trekkers, leading to so many tourists roaming its streets in search for hiking boots, warm sleeping bags and (occasionally) a nice café to relax in after and before the trek. This is perfect news for us students! The options for places to pass time at in Pokhara seriously seem endless, having lived there, I feel like I discovered a new favorite place weekly.
Me and Malin finally decided to narrow down our favorite spots to the graspable number of five, do keep in mind that we are rather spoiled in our choices and like to lean back in the comfort of a more or less western kind of café. Some local spots still made it to the count though, hopefully a new list will come the upcoming semester with more local treats. Also, these are not put in order since they all are perfect for certain kind of moods.
Sabina’s momo’s (budget) – We discovered this local place very late in the semester but once we did, this was the only place to go for momos! Momos are probably the most common fast food in Nepal, originally from Tibet but so loved in Nepal many people think it is from there. They are kind of pasta-like dumplings filled with anything from veggies to cheese to different kinds of meat. Sabina’s momos are as far as we know the best ones you can find at lakeside. Try the spinach-cheese; the dough is green and they taste absolutely fantastic, served with a spicy home-made dip of tomato and coriander. For desert they have fried momos with peanut butter and banana inside, perfectly accompanied with honey to dip them in. A must try and a perfect roof top place for big groups, however it is good to book in advance if the group is very large. (There are two Sabina’s momo’s, both are good but the one with the rooftop is the best one).
The juicery (pricy) – this is the best spot for brunch! Really good fresh juices, nice americanos and a calm vibe in the backgarden area overlooking Lake Fewa. This is also the place to go to if you want to meet other travellers or just talk to strangers, the seating area is made for conversation. Mornings here might end up being late afternoons before you finally leave. The prices are high, but you can choose to split their sandwiches since they are huge. High season it can be a bit crowded, but overall very shanti shanti (peaceful).
The Ayurvedic café (pricy) – in the end we spent most of our time here! AMAZING place. It is very expensive in Nepali standards but the quality of the food is so pure, you walk out feeling like you’ve given your body true energy and healing, you literally feel the goodness of the food. It’s hundred procent ayurvedic (ancient Indian medicine and life practise) food, so it is meant to heal you – medicine is food, food is medicine. After some time in Pokhara this place might be exactly what you need! Especially when sick, or in need of a break from spices, fried stuff and generally heavy food. The menu changes somewhat with the seasons but usually has an amazing buddha bowl and buddha meal, consisting of a daily soup, whole grain rice, steamed vegetable, hummus, pickle and with or without curd (vegan optional). Most pastries are either healthy and good or raw. Another must try if in season; the frozen mango-cake. Absolutely mind-blowing, and super healthy and good! This place deserves all credit, especially the supercool, grounded funky woman from Japan who started it. Her work of art is extra authentic and has great vibes, truly original with the feeling for the consciousness of earth to table, to body and around!
El Bocaito (pricy) – owned by a Spanish lady serving Spanish treats but also Nepali classics such as Dahl Bhat (rice and lentils) this place too overlooks the Fewa lake and has a perfect back-garden chill area where you can spend endless of hours. We spent a lot of time here, since it’s not so busy, it became a first choice of place to study or spend our Sunday mornings. It is also perfect when you are a big group!
The Moviegarden (pricy) – this is one of the best outdoor cinemas we’ve ever seen! It’s built on the old agricultural plateau of the hills of Pokhara, so it’s levelled like a small outdoor cathedral. It costs 300 Rps (30 crowns) to enter for a movie which is a bit expensive once again, but as a student, if you come early in the semester, they might be able to give you student discounts for groups. Otherwise there is loyalty cards! Anyhow, it’s worth it. A massive screen under the stars overlooking lake Fewa and the mountains. Serving popcorn and pizza and red wine and pita-bread with hummus, even a nice greek salad is on the menu! And… the movies they chose to show are almost always gold! Follow them on Instagram for weekly schedule.
Other places in town that are great are some local gems we don’t really know the name of, but if you follow our explanations I’m sure you can find them. There is a falafel place just before “You and I” cafe (you can find you and I on google maps) that has the best falafel in town for 180 Nrps. Also there’s a “ cookie place“ with homemade cookies and cakes (try peanut-chocolate!). This you can find just before the bar “lotus corner” walking in the direction out of town (we also added a photo of it’s counter in this blogpost).
Outside of town in Happy village there is a hotel called “Nar-bis”. There you’ll find a Nepali mama that serves you classic dhal bhat and seriously good breakfast on it’s quiet rooftop overlooking the paragliders as they fly by. The place is perfect on a Saturday morning for a long breakfast and study-time or an evening dinner by the fireplace.
Finally, here’s a list of other places you can explore.
– Or2k (can be found in Kathmandu as well)
– Western tandoori (amazing cheap indian food in Kathmandu, not Pokhara, don’t miss it!)
– You and I (art cafe were you can draw as well)
– Beyond the wall (bar with live music)
– The Jiva cafe and spa (calm garden and amazing massages)
– Pho99 (vietnamese restaurant, also found in Kathmandu)
Breakfast at You and I
The cookie place
Chickpea masala at Or2k
Dinner at home in Happy Village
Breakfast in Happy Village at Narbis Hotel
Aloo Paratha in Happy Village
Aloo Paratha Veg Curry in Pokhara
Spices in Pokhara
We hope you find the places and enjoy them as much as we did! Don’t forget to explore the local food markets in both Pokhara and Kathmandu. Finally we really encourage you to explore and find your own favourite spots since there are so many choices. Don’t forget; medicine is food, food is medicine.
Love from Daniela and Malin