A Friendly and Informative Guide to Restaurants in Bhutan
Welcome to the land of the Thunder Dragon! Bhutan, a tiny kingdom nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, is a destination that has captured the hearts of many with its unparalleled natural beauty, vibrant culture, and Gross National Happiness. As you embark on your journey to explore this mystical country, let me be your guide to some of the best restaurants in Bhutan. From local Bhutanese delicacies to international cuisines, these establishments are sure to tantalize your taste buds and enrich your travel experience.
1. The Folk Heritage Restaurant, Thimphu
The Folk Heritage Restaurant in the capital city of Thimphu is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to immerse themselves in traditional Bhutanese culture and cuisine. Housed in a beautifully restored traditional Bhutanese house, the restaurant offers a unique dining experience complete with earthen floors, wood-paneled walls, and traditional artifacts adorning the space. Be prepared to be transported back in time as you savor authentic Bhutanese dishes such as Ema Datshi (chili and cheese), Jasha Maru (spicy chicken curry), and Red Rice, all served on wooden plates.
2. Ambient Café, Thimphu
Craving a cup of coffee or a light snack? Look no further than Ambient Café, a cozy little establishment in Thimphu. Boasting an extensive menu of sandwiches, salads, pastries, and beverages, this café is the perfect spot for a quick bite or a leisurely afternoon of reading and people-watching. Don’t forget to try their delicious carrot cake and local Suja tea, a Bhutanese favorite.
3. The Zone, Thimphu
If you’re in the mood for some delicious comfort food, The Zone is your go-to spot. Known for its diverse menu featuring Indian, Chinese, and Bhutanese dishes, this restaurant caters to all tastes and preferences. The warm and inviting atmosphere, coupled with impeccable service, makes The Zone a must-visit when in Thimphu. Be sure to try their momos (dumplings), and if you’re feeling adventurous, give their spicy Ema Datshi a go!
4. Sonam Trophel Restaurant, Paro
Located in the picturesque town of Paro, Sonam Trophel Restaurant is an unassuming eatery popular among locals and tourists alike. Known for its mouthwatering traditional Bhutanese and Indian dishes, the restaurant offers an array of options to choose from. Don’t miss their Kewa Datshi (potato and cheese), Phaksha Paa (pork with red chilies), and the ever-popular momos, which come in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties.
5. Chig-ja-gye, Paro
Offering a fine dining experience with stunning views of Paro Valley, Chig-ja-gye is a gem not to be missed. The restaurant specializes in contemporary Bhutanese cuisine, showcasing a perfect blend of tradition and innovation. Make a reservation to secure a table on the terrace and indulge in delectable dishes such as Jasha Tshoem (chicken and mushroom stew) and Norsha Wang-ja (braised beef ribs).
6. Brioche Café, Bumthang
Located in the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, Bumthang, Brioche Café is a quaint
and charming spot that offers a warm and welcoming respite for weary travelers. This bakery and café is known for its fresh and scrumptious pastries, bread, and cakes. Pair your choice of baked goods with a hot cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate as you sit back and enjoy the serene atmosphere. While you’re there, don’t forget to try their signature apple pie and croissants – they’re simply delightful!
7. Yangkhil Restaurant, Trongsa
Offering a mix of Bhutanese, Indian, and Chinese cuisine, Yangkhil Restaurant in Trongsa is a great option for travelers exploring central Bhutan. With its friendly staff, comfortable seating, and splendid views of the Trongsa Dzong and valley, this restaurant provides a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience. Be sure to try their Kewa Datshi, Jasha Maru, and Chilli Chicken for a taste of the diverse flavors that Bhutan has to offer.
8. Aum Tshering’s Kitchen, Punakha
A visit to Bhutan would be incomplete without a home-cooked meal, and Aum Tshering’s Kitchen in Punakha offers just that. This family-run establishment is located on a small farm, and the host, Aum Tshering, prepares authentic Bhutanese dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Experience the warm hospitality of a Bhutanese home as you dine on dishes like Ema Datshi, Sikam Paa (dried pork), and Khur-le (Buckwheat pancakes) – all made with love and care.
9. Bhutan Kitchen, Gelephu
For a taste of southern Bhutan, make your way to Bhutan Kitchen in Gelephu. This modest eatery is known for its delicious Bhutanese and Indian dishes, prepared with fresh ingredients and plenty of spices. The friendly and attentive service adds to the overall charm of the place. When you’re there, don’t miss their Nakey (fern) and Chogo (yak cheese) dishes for a true taste of Bhutan.
10. The Orchid Restaurant, Phuentsholing
Located in the bustling border town of Phuentsholing, The Orchid Restaurant offers an array of Indian, Chinese, and Bhutanese dishes to cater to diverse palates. With its spacious and clean interiors, the restaurant is perfect for families and groups. Be sure to try their Thukpa (noodle soup), Chili Paneer, and Shabalay (Tibetan-style meat pastries) for a satisfying meal after a day of exploration.
The Bhutanese culinary scene is as diverse and vibrant as the country’s culture and landscapes. From traditional Bhutanese eateries to cozy cafes and fine dining establishments, there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants to explore during your journey. We hope this guide helps you discover and enjoy the delicious flavors of Bhutan.