The world knows of three things about the Queen of Hills: Darjeeling has the majestic Kanchenjunga looking over the town, the iconic toy train (Himalayan Railways) and the Darjeeling tea. Well, Darjeeling is even beyond that. There are numerous places to visit. One can splurge into shopping from exotic curios to pocket-friendly shopping local stores. Finally one cannot avoid the epic eateries in Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is an emotion for me. I visit Darjeeling every year and I know numerous others who do that; even if they travel the world; for this hill town has its own world woven with love and magic.
Today I will focus only on the eateries in Darjeeling and around. If one fails to visit any of them it is a real miss. Food does enhance the travel experience.
Let me begin with 2 places on the way to Darjeeling. If one is visiting Darjeeling, he or she will have to either fly to Bagdogra Airport at Shiliguri or take a train to New Jalpaiguri Railway Station and then drive uphill. Kurseong has to be crossed and definitely deserves a halt.
Kurseong is known as the land of white orchids. It has got an old-world charm with the imperial bungalows and lush tea estates. Darjeeling is 30 kilometres uphill from Kurseong. Before heading to the eateries in Darjeeling let’s first see one here and then move ahead.
The Goodricke Teapot’s ‘Margaret’s Deck’ on the NH55, Hill Cart Road, 8 kilometres upwards from Kurseong towards Darjeeling is worth a visit not only for tea lovers but also for foodies and nature lovers. Nestled in the lap of the lush tea gardens of the tea estate ‘Margaret’s Hope’. The tea garden is more than 150 years old. The Tea lounge is quite recently built and it beautifully weaves the contemporary decor with the natural beauty of the place. Sausages, carrot cakes, sandwiches and pancakes are to die for. Try the white tea, their speciality, or any other from the wide plethora of choices.
Pocket pinch is comparatively on the higher side as it is a premium property situated in an exotic location. It will cost around Rs.600 – Rs 800 for 2. However, it entirely depends on the kind of tea you chose. Teas can cost Rs.250 to Rs.1000 for 2.
Sit at the open space and sip and look at the vast expanse of the green tea planted slopes of the hills. The place has lots of orchids and other flowers. There is a glass-walled lounge. You can choose to sit inside too. The lobby has a little store to purchase teas and other things related to tea. You may wonder why it is called a deck. That’s because a part of it is floating over the tea garden like the deck of a ship. It is a photogenic place. The décor, the tea estate, the prayer flags, the mist and the cool air and the narrow gauge railway track and the insignificant railway station together make the place out of the world.
Some of the eateries in Darjeeling are institutions themselves. Keventer’s is one such restaurant. It was established in the 1920s. It is popular for breakfast, especially on the rooftop where the great film director Satyajit Ray was often seen. We have also seen the famous proposal scene from Anurag Basu’s popular movie ‘Barfi’, where Ileana D’Cruz sat at Keventer’s rooftop and Ranbir Kapoor proposed her from the iconic clock tower.
It is close to the Clock Tower of Chowk Bazar and is situated on the Gandhi Road that goes up to the Mall. Yes, you get a view of the Clock Tower and the Kanchenjunga. Kanchenjunga is the third highest peak in the world and is considered sacred. I am sure you have tasted a better breakfast yet eating at Kev’s is an experience. Aim for the rooftop. Remember it is always crowded. You may have to wait for a little before your turn. The pork platter and/or the chicken platter with a cup of hot chocolate are most sought after. The platter comprises mainly of sausages, bacon, ham, meatloaf and fried eggs. The quantity served is pretty good and you have to spend around Rs.550-Rs.650 for 2.
The ground floor is a retail store from where you can buy varieties of sauces, mustards and meat cuts. Well, the softy from the vending machine at Kev’s is absolute nostalgia.
Established in 1913, Glenary’s is also an institution in itself. It is one of those eateries in Darjeeling where you can spend the whole day shifting from one floor to another with a change of menu. It is situated on Gandhi Road, towards the Mall. The ground floor is an astounding bakery known for its freshly baked pastries, brownies, cream rolls, tarts and pies. The open-air balcony is mind-blowing. Good food together with a great view of the gorgeous Kanchenjunga definitely sets the mood. Rs. 300- Rs.400 will be the pocket pinch for 2.
The first floor is a restaurant and bar which also has an open section for fine dining. There’s a long menu of Continental as well as Chinese dishes and all of them taste terrific. Pocket pinch for 2 here would be Rs. 850 – Rs. 1000 (exclusive of alcohol). Similarly, the basement is a cool pub called, ‘Buzz’. It is a good place to sit and enjoy live music and dinner in the evening.
If you are not as lucky as to have a clear sky that enables the sighting of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga, don’t feel sad. The place itself is great and the food they serve too is delectable.
Kunga is a small eatery decorated with Tibetan Scrolls and Thangkas. They are outrageously popular for serving authentic Tibetan. The momos are to die for. Order meat pies, shya phaley, Gyathuk, thenthuk, thukpa, fried Wai Wai (instant noodles) and butter tea (only in the morning). They will only leave your taste buds wanting more. It is situated on Gandhi Road, just at the taxi stand. You will be more than full and will end up spending only Rs.300-Rs.400 for 2.
Sonam’s Kitchen started as a tiny eatery with extremely limited space for many people to squeeze in and dine at the same time. However, their popularity increased over time because of the quality and taste of their food, especially breakfast. They have a new extension too. It’s hard to find hash browns and pancakes which taste as good as theirs. They are great with eggs too. If you are not there for breakfast, order some fresh pasta. You will end up paying Rs. 400 for 2. Some of these little eateries in Darjeeling are actually remarkable.
Located near the Ropeway Station, is this cute contemporary café with a wide variety of food. It has an open space to just sit and chill and keep staring at the gorgeous Kanchenjunga and sip some warm tea or coffee. Well, SuzAm’s Café serves some amazing heart-winning coffee even in the land of teas. Order burgers and waffles. Their chocolate desserts have a drooling effect on people. If you are visiting in a gang, spend some time there with great food and a great view. Play Uno. The ambience is worth a visit even after sundown because the rooftop is beautifully decorated with fairy lights and there’s soothing music too.
Revolver is an unconventional lodge, themed on Beatles, situated on Gandhi Road behind Union Chapel. It has a cool café and dining. The café is cosy, stuffed with books and comics. My favourite Tintin series is also present. There’s also a guitar. Well, it’s a music lovers’ den. You can try out continental here but Revolver best is known for lip-smacking local and Naga cuisine. Some of the items from Naga dishes are fermented bamboo shoots with a choice of chicken, pork or fish. It will not cost more than Rs.300 for 2.
Some of the hotels also serve amazing food in their restaurants. ‘Shangri-La’, an age-old colonial boutique hotel, ‘Ara’ by Bellevue, ‘The Park’ and ‘Maple’ at the Ramada are such examples.
In the land of teas, where tea is considered their champagne, one must pay a visit to Golden Tips at the Mall. They will guide and suggest and finally serve the tea that best suits you. They have a plethora of tea and tea accessories.
Darjeeling is inhabited by Lepchas, Gorkhas, Bhutias, Tibetans and Nepalis. The colonial effect is intense here too. So there is an abundance of choices to have our pick. Ideally one could go on with the eateries in Darjeeling for they are as lovely as the hill town itself.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.