One of the reasons why I love Leh is due to its café culture. With numerous cafes and restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world and providing a relaxing dining experience.
Here is a list of 5 cafes and restaurants in Leh that I found to be a cut above the rest. Towards the end, I will mention a few more restaurants I found to be good, so in case you need more recommendations, stick around till the end :).
Gesmo Restaurant and German Bakery, Fort Road: One of the most well-known restaurants in Leh, Gesmo Restaurant and German Bakery on the Fort Road has been a favorite of travelers for years. It is located just a couple of hundred meters from the Main Market and is generally packed during the season.
Pretty much everything on the menu is good, though their breakfasts, in particular, are delicious and wholesome, especially if you get their delicious ginger-lemon honey to go along with it.
The only downside is, since it is famous and located in a busy area, you can’t really relax and read a book here.
G Kitchen, Changspa Road: A little more expensive than Gesmo, G Kitchen provides a more relaxed dining experience with indoor and outdoor dining area. Service is slow here and at times a little disappointing.
However, the food is great. Be it Indian, Italian, Mediterranean or Chinese Cuisines. Though Italian and Mediterranean is their forte and the portion size is generally quite good.
I found G Kitchen to be more suitable for lunch and dinner than breakfasts.
Wonderland Restaurant and Coffee House: It is located across the G Kitchen and offers great food for a more economical price (compared to G Kitchen). It has ground floor enclosed area and first-floor sort of open terrace restaurant.
From Pasta and Pizzas to Parathas, Wonderland Restaurant serves delicious food and even better dessert. Try their Hello from the Queen or Hello from the King Sundaes to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Café Jeevan, Changspa Road: Another gem of a café located on the Changspa Road with smartly dressed staff and good interiors, giving it a feel of an upscale restaurant, even though it is priced similar to other cafes down the street! It is a Café worth checking out, not only for food but also for the decor.
The service is slow, but the food is fantastic. Though it can be a hit and miss at times. I suggest you try out their breakfasts, in particular their American Breakfast, which is what I tried when I ate there.
Yama Coffee House, Changspa Road: This is my favorite café in Leh and I wrote my novel, Love in Ladakh, while sitting in this café in October 2015. Chances are if I am at Leh, I will end up eating here at least a couple of times, if not more. Mainly due to the fact that it is a short walk from Otsal Guest House, where I normally stay and this café has a very relaxed vibe with outdoor and indoor seating area.
The food too is good, though the service is slow. Pretty much everything I have tried here has turned out to be delicious; be it the numerous types of breakfasts, sandwiches, pasta, shakes, coffees, teas and cakes.
The only downside is, at times a few things on the menu aren’t available. Though this is mostly the case with the Israeli Breakfast, it can happen with other things on the menu as well.
Few more recommendations
Summer Harvest Restaurant at the beginning of Fort Road is another good option and is mostly frequented by locals, though it feels a little dark even during the day. Try Veg Kothay (pan/shallow fried momos) here, they are delicious.
Kang La Chen at the end of Leh Main Market is a good option for Tibetan Food, their fried cheese momos (if available) are fantastic and so are other momos.
Crossroads Rooftop Restaurant at Changspa Road is right next to Yama Coffee House and serves great food in a relaxed atmosphere. Service super slow, but the food more than makes up for it.
I have tried Alchi Kitchen in Alchi, now they have opened their new branch in Leh and if it is as good as their Alchi one, it would be a fantastic place to try Tibetan cuisines.
La Piazzetta Garden Restaurant at Changspa Road is a good option if you want to relax in a garden restaurant. The ambiance is good and so is music, the food is okish as well and they do have a bonfire going at night. You can bring your own alcohol here if you want (at least a few people did in front of us.)
KC Garden Restaurant at Changspa Road is only a good option if you’re looking for a place to drink (limited variety available) with a bonfire. The food is mediocre and if you ask them for a bonfire, they will charge you for it, even though anyone can come and share it later, without paying any money! So look for a bonfire with space to sit, no point paying for your own.
Neha Sweets in main market is only good if you just have to eat samosa and chole-bhature, otherwise their service level as well as food taste has dropped considerably in the last few years.
All of the cafes and restaurant mentioned above have free Wi-Fi (except Neha Sweets) and with the exception of Summer Harvest and Neha Sweets, toilets as well.
Got a recommendation for a restaurant in Leh? Do let me know, and I will try it out the next time I travel to Ladakh.