Budget restaurants in Darjeeling: 5 cheap eateries to enjoy delicious food at low cost

Darjeeling has much more to offer other than views of snowy peaks, undulating tea gardens, and the toy train. It is a great milieu of several cuisines. If you are a food lover, here is a list of top cheap eateries in Darjeeling where you can have a sumptuous meal at throwaway prices!

Darjeeling, the Queen of Eastern Himalayas, has always attracted tourists from all over the world, since the nineteenth century when the British Raj had set up a sanatorium in what was then a small Lepcha hamlet. There are several unmistakable, distinguishing aspects – or 'objective correlatives' – of this quaint hill station. Whenever we hear the name of Darjeeling, we think of lush tea gardens, the UNESCO World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (alias the Toy Train), several British-styled public schools, the mystic interplay of sunbeams and misty clouds, and so on. The town also offers a milieu of several ethnicities and communities – the majority of the townsfolk are Nepali or Tibetan, including tribes like Lepcha, Gorkha, Tamang, Sherpa and so on, who live harmoniously alongside Bengalis, some North Indians, a few Anglo-Indians, and others. However, how often do you associate Darjeeling with food?

Yes, Darjeeling can easily be categorized as a town with great culinary varieties. From authentic Tibetan to standard Bengali cuisines, from Punjabi dishes to South-Indian preparations, from English breakfast to a Nepali dinner, from fine dining restaurants to street food – Darjeeling has it all. A short trip to Darjeeling thus can well be a food-tour, apart from the great views of the majestic Kanchenjunga peaks or a ride in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. There are costly places, and at the same time, there are lots of cheap eateries in Darjeeling. Here is a list of some good but cheap restaurants in Darjeeling where you can taste local cuisines without burning a hole in your pocket. So grab your backpack now for a budget trip!

1. Kunga Restaurant

Location: At the intersection of Laden-la Road and Gandhi Road, near the iconic Clock Tower of Darjeeling, you can see the towering Dekeling Hotel. Kunga is a small but famous restaurant tucked away on the ground floor of Dekeling Hotel. However, the Clubside Taxi Stand is just in front of it, and it might be a bit tricky to locate the restaurant amidst the crowd of taxis and drivers.

Food you must try: Any Tibetan dish. Their momo is particularly famous.

Tips: The place is cosy but small, and gets filled up pretty fast in the evening, leaving several people waiting outside. Should you plan your evening snacks there, try to reach a bit early.

2. Glenary's Bakery and Cafe

Location: Undoubtedly the best bakery in Darjeeling, Glenary's simply cannot be missed. It is located at Nehru Road, very close to the Chowrasta Mall. However it is a prominent landmark and everybody in the town knows it, so you won't have any difficulty locating it. They have a bakery cum café as well as a full-fledged fine-dining restaurant. While the restaurant may be a bit on the pricier side, the bakery cum café at the ground floor is not that exorbitant. While the prices are certainly higher than average Darjeeling bakeries (you have a lot of them in the Chowk Bazaar area), the food is also of superior quality.

Food you must try: You will be spoilt for choices. The apple pie is particularly recommended.

Tips: Grab a seat in the balcony if you can. In a clear day, you will be able to see the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga right from your table, behind the landmark building Bhanu Bhavan.

3. Keventer's

Location: Yet another iconic colonial eatery in Darjeeling, Keventer's has become particularly famous after the Barfi film. It is located at the intersection of Nehru Road, Gandhi Road, and Laden-La Road. Like Glenary's, it is a prominent landmark too and everybody can show you the way.

Food you must try: English breakfast. If you are a meat-lover, try their pork or chicken platter.

Tips: Go for a brunch. Early mornings can be really crowded, but once the congregation dissolves, just grab a seat in the open terrace and gaze at the milieu of colours in the street below while you munch your brunch!

4. Sonam's Kitchen

Location: It is a famous but tiny eatery at Zakir Hussain Marg. Locate the horse stable at the south-east corner of the Chowrasta Mall, and take the road that goes down from there. From the next bifurcation, take the street going uphill.

Food you must try: This cheap restaurant of Darjeeling mainly offer vegetarian and egg dishes. They are mainly known for the great breakfast they make, although some people flock there for dinner. They serve no lunch. Also, try fresh coffee made of roasted beans.

Tips: This budget eatery of Darjeeling is really tiny with just three tables, so you might have to wait a bit. However, rest assured that the waiting will be worth the food. They also have a good collection of books including travelogues on various places in India and Tibet. You can borrow and read one while waiting.

5. Street Food

Location: A food tour of Darjeeling is never complete without trying the street food. Although the hygiene part may not always be guaranteed, the cooks take good care to maintain good hygiene and the taste of the food are great too. You can located street food stalls in Darjeeling all around the Chowrasta Mall, particularly along the Nehru road, opposite Keventer's.

Food you must try: Bacon and Kebabs, particularly.

Tips: Six to seven o' clock in the evening is the peak time when you can expect the most number of street food stalls around this area. Beyond 8 pm they start shutting down one by one.

Budget restaurants and street food in Darjeeling: Things to remember

  1. Hill people usually wake up with daybreak at dawn and also go to bed sooner than other city dwellers. Expect most restaurants to shut by 8:30 or 9 o'clock in the evening. Some places like Glenary's stay open longer though.

  2. Use your discretion regarding where to eat. Most restaurants serve non-veg food. Though there are some purely vegetarian restaurants in Darjeeling though.

  3. Many restaurants serve chicken, beef, and pork. If you do not consume such food, or would not like to eat at a restaurant where such food are cooked, ask beforehand.

  4. While hygiene is more or less maintained in most restaurants in an average standard, use your discretion whether to eat in a particular restaurant or not.

  5. There are several other good eateries in Darjeeling, both cheap and dear, that have not been included in this list. This is only a selective and suggestive list and you are encouraged to try other eateries around too.

  6. I do not have any affiliation to, or any monetary benefit from, any of the restaurants listed above. The reviews are entirely my personal, subjective opinions which may significantly differ from yours. Use your own discretion to follow these reviews.


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