Mark JohnstonTOP 7 BUDGET RESTAURANTS IN THAMEL Mark Johnston January 1 Nepal, Travel The city of Kathmandu is endless. Even Thamel, stacked upon itself, seems endless when you’re walking the maze of streets. It’s all quite overwhelming for a first-time arrival and finding a good place to eat might turn out to be a challenge. Here’s a list of the places Britnee and I returned to again and again for delicious food in comfortable settings during our 20 days in Kathmandu. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for our special Tripcipe map marking where to find each of the top seven budget restaurants in Thamel. *Disclaimer– I love dal bhat and was addicted to the delicious/healthy traditional Nepali food during our time in Nepal. That said, I didn’t find the best dal during my time in Kathmandu and enjoyed it much more elsewhere while trekking and in Pokhara. So that’s why it didn’t make the list. Western Tandori (Indian food) After being introduced to this hole-in-the-wall, Indian curry shop by a friend of a friend, we were hooked. Or maybe it was Britnee that was truly hooked as she talked about it nonstop while we were trekking. For just 100-200 rupees, ($1-$2), you could eat a delicious and filling plate of curry and a plate of naan or roti, (plain, butter, cheese or garlic), and the selection was wonderful. Britnee and I both kept going back to our favorites, for her the mixed veggie curry and for me the paneer masala. This place is no secret though, and it’s usually quite crowded with locals and budget backpackers at lunch and dinner time! BK’s (Best Fingerchips & Snacks!) I found BK’s in a Lonely Planet guide to Kathmandu and it became our favorite stop to get momo. Whether steamed or fried, veggie or buffalo, it was all delicious and cheap–a filling meal costing us each 200-250 rupees, ($2-$2.50). Best of all, though, were the fries. I won’t think twice to say they were some of the best I’ve had in the world! No joke. And the spicy ketchup was a nice addition. There was also plenty of other options on the menu including chicken wings, pakora, beers and soda, but we usually returned for our favorites and it was especially rewarding after weeks away trekking. Pumpernickel (coffee shop and bakery) We didn’t find Pumpernickel until after we returned from the our second trek on which we were told about it by some Germans. A wonderful coffee shop in the heart of Thamel with delicious baked goods that tasted fresher than most other places we tried in the city. It quickly became our go-to coffee shop where we could work on updating our website since power went out frequently at our guesthouse. We would migrate there in the early afternoon and settle in with a cup of coffee for me and milk tea for Britnee and a baked treat each. Power was available but the wifi was incredibly slow. Hot Breads (bakery and coffee shop) We came to Hot Breads for one reason–the unbeatable price. Unfortunately we would have to wait until after 9:30 p.m. as that’s when they started their 50% off sale before closing. But it was a great find after an evening in a bar next door. Like Western Tandori, this place is no secret and you might find yourself squeezing between a crowd of hungry shoppers as they all fill their trays with cheap, baked treats. Momotarou (Japanese food) Finding Momotarou Restaurant was like hitting the jackpot. Late in our stay we were getting tired of the same restaurants and after I ate here alone one evening I was quick to drag Britnee back the next day. As winter arrived in Kathmandu and the temperatures dropped, nothing pleased me more than a steaming-hot bowl of ramen! Britnee would usually get Kakiage Don–tempura veggies on top of steamed rice. For how exotic this food seemed in Kathmandu, the price was still great costing us around 300 rupees each, ($3). The menu was vast and they even had a wide selection of sushi! Momo Star (decent food, delicious price) When out alone one evening looking for a new place to eat, the friendly atmosphere–and soccer on TV–was a welcoming sight. The food I ate there was always decent but not great–the momo was good but not as good as BK’s just down the street; the Thukpa was a little tasteless; the soup and sandwiches rather plain. But I never got sick and I never paid more than a couple of hundred rupees for a meal. The banana lassi, however, was the BEST I had in my entire two months in Nepal and that’s what kept me coming back. K-Too Beer & Steakhouse I’m concluding my list with a not-so-budget restaurant, the K-Too Beer & Steakhouse, (although considering that it’s in Nepal, I guess it’s still an unbeatable price). We wound up here after receiving a recommendation from someone we met on the ABC trek and God bless them for pointing us in the right direction. Even if you’re pinching pennies during your time in Nepal, when you’re done with a long, tiring trek, go ahead and treat yourself at K-Too. The steaks are phenomenal and the price still reasonable. The restaurant provides a nice, quiet setting to enjoy your meal and a photo of the interior or my sizzling plate of food would probably have made a much better choice. Take my word for it, you and your starving muscles that just climbed thousands of meters will thank me! P.S. If it still says it on the sign outside, be sure to remind your waiter of the free Irish coffee with your entrée order.