Zombala (Phenday Lam, Hong Kong Market, Thimphu) — located in the middle of the market is the perfect place to charge your batteries after strolling out the markets of Thimphu. The place serves mouth-watering momos, the Ema Datshi with ingredients like mushrooms and chicken. The food is reasonably priced and there’s also an in-house-bar.
Hotel Ghasel (Hotel Ghasel, Nordzin Lam, Thimphu) – opened in 1997, this hotel is located by a popular local landmark (the Clock Tower Square). This was the first vegetarian restaurant that opened in the capital and serves both Bhutanese and Indian dishes, such as the vegetarian thali (a selection of small dishes, including rice and chutney), and masala dosa (a pancake made from rice batter, black lentils and a spicy potato stuffing).
Swiss Guest House (Kharsumphe, Jakar, Chokor, Bumthang) – this restaurant got its name from the 1970s, when this location was frequented by Swiss nationals who were in the country working for Bhutan’s Dairy and Forest Project. This guest house is run by a Swiss-trained cheese maker, and (to no surprise) Swiss dishes are offered here, such as fondue, raclette, bratwurst, and zuri gschatzels (diced veal with mushrooms & cream).
Sonam Trophel (Paro Tshongdue, Paro) — this is one of the best restaurants in Paro. Here you can enjoy delicious and authentic Thukpa, Datshi and Momos. Sonam Trophel serves vegetarian as well as the vegan meal, so if you are up to try some vegetarian Bhutan food, then it’s going to be the best place for you. Here you can also enjoy different Asian delicacies at nominal prices.
San Maru Restaurant (Norzin Lam, Thimphu) — run by a Bhutanese-Korean couple, this is the only place in the country you can dine on absolutely delicious Korean food. Here you will find the country’s best Bibimbap along with the barbecued chicken. Like most other places of Bhutan, this restaurant is also immersed in traditional interior décor and offers one of the best dining experiences in this country.
Olive Restaurant (Nak-Sel Boutique Hotel & Spa, Nkoba Village) – this restaurant, located 8 km from Paro, serves local dishes such as kewa datshi (a curry made with potatoes and cheese), and the yak burger (complemented with spicy homemade mustard), and watercress salad, along with freshly-cut French fries. This eco-friendly and energy-efficient hotel gets high marks for its breath-taking views of Jomolhari (a Himalayan mountain that’s on the Chinese (Tibetan)-Bhutan border.
Galingkha (Galingkha Hotel, Norzin Lam & Dondrub Lam, Thimphu) — this restaurant, located on the first floor of one of the international hotels in the capital, happens to face a busy traffic circle (where white-gloved traffic cops can be seen in action directing traffic – in a country that still doesn’t have traffic lights). Dishes served there range from Chinese, to Bhutanese to Indian (such as butter paneer masala, and creamy lentil-based dal halwa). The restaurant also features an outdoor dining area, separated by a glassed patio. The guests can enjoy great food with the amazing visuals of the town and the greenery that surrounds it.
Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant (Pedzoe Lam, Kawang Jangsa, Thimphu) – for those interested in sampling local (Bhutanese) cuisine, this restaurant is a good start. The extensive menu, which boasts 60 vegetarian dishes and over 100 meat dishes, features such Bhutanese fare as khuli, a pancake made from buckwheat, kekti kewa (spiced baby potatoes) and ja sha maroo, a dish of minced chicken. Perfect washed down with a glass of ara (a local rice wine).
Foreigners who prefer organic food will appreciate this restaurant, since all its ingredients are organically-sourced. In addition, the colorful, authentic setting complements the food perfectly – guests sit on cushions around a low table and eat from handmade wooden bowls (consistent with Bhutanese custom).
Chig-ja-gye at Taj Tashi (Taj Tashi Hotel, Samten Lam, Thimphu) – this is a pure-Bhutanese restaurant, not only its menu but its decor as well. Located within the luxury Taj Tashi Hotel (built with traditional Bhutanese dzong architecture along with more contemporary touches), a wealth of locals dishes are offered here, such as Ema Datshi (regarded at the country’s national dish – a fiery mix of chili peppers and yak cheese). Buddhist prayer wheels can be seen from the restaurant’s windows (reinforcing its Bhutanese credibility).
Champaca Café (Main Street, Paro) — thinking of a cup of amazing coffee or scrumptious food? The Champaca Café has it all. The place was designed quite tastefully with high wooden stools taking in the place of usual tables and chairs. The food of this cafe is appetizing; and you can find anything you want ranging from pizzas, burgers, and several kinds of sandwiches to various types of baked goods like cakes, pastries, cookies, and other fresh items. Their aromatic coffee of this place is a sleeper hit amongst the locals and Himalaya-bound hikers alike!