While I love to travel and experience new cultures, every now and then I need some comfort food from home and of course some good coffee. Good thing, hipsterism has arrived in Patan too and provided me with both. Find here some of my favourite hangouts in this southern neighbourhood of Kathmandu.
My favourite hangout in Patan features recipes from the silk road starting with Turkish Eggs for breakfast and finishing with a Vietnamese salad for dinner, rounding the night off with a saffron infused gin tonic or a tulsi spiced rum. All set in a beautifully decorated, airy bistro with a cosy cushioned seating area and a quiet little garden, tucked away in a side street just off Swotha Square.
Dine in style in this beautiful restaurant/art gallery. The restaurant is set in the courtyard and the garden of a beautifully renovated Newari house, that also features an art gallery and a shop selling handcrafted goods such as shawls and jewellery. The restaurant menu features mediterranean cuisine and some Newari classics. My favourites: The vegan carbonara pasta made with a creamy herb-cashew sauce and the Newari thali.
This tiny little coffee and tea shop features good, strong espresso and various teas. I enjoyed sitting here to read or just to watch the people going about their business in busy Swotha square.
Comfort food zone: Café Swotha was my go-to when I was in need for some food that felt instantly familiar, such as Gnocchi on tomato sauce, or when I wanted to load up on greens with their tasty goat cheese salad. Also service here was usually superfast, making it a good place for a quick bite.
One of the most beautiful places for a meal: The restaurant is set in a beautifully restored courtyard, offering a lot of cosy corners for a quiet meal. The menu and the food I found pretty standard, but the setting makes it worth going back to this place.
A good place to start experimenting with the many different tastes of Newari dishes, and because there were so many new things to try, I kept coming back to this restaurant with its beautiful little terrace a lot.
When venturing into the more quiet neighbourhood of Sanepa, Café Soma was always on my list for breakfast or lunch. Here you can get your smothies, your good cappucchino and of course your eggs and avocados on toast. It comes with good wifi, air-conditioning and a well-catered built-in bookshop, which makes it the perfect place to recharge from the noisy streets of Kathmandu.
The coolest café in all Kathmandu in my opinion and I wished it was just a little closer to where I lived. I love the design, the decorations, the organic coffee, the fair-traded products, the yummy muffins, the refreshing lemon-mint-soda – and the fact that it was a favourite hang-out place for a lot of local teenagers, giving it a buzzing and lifely vibe, especially after school-hours.
A must if you enjoy long brunches on sunday mornings. Their menu is extensive and features delicious treats such as pumpkin-mozarella-crêpe, and their large, shady garden is the perfect place to spend a few hours. Sunday brunch usually comes with live music and a nice little organic farmers market.
The grungiest, artsiest place I encountered during my stay here. This little gallery features young artists, and it also serves as a hub for all things creative. There are art classes, readings, music nights, a rooftop terrace to hang out and a generally very welcoming and creative vibe.
This tiny little bookshop is filled up to the roof with books and magazines and graphic novels catering to every taste. It has a great selection of contemporary fiction, and of course a lot of books on Nepal’s history, culture, politics and nature, on Buddhism and on mountaineering.
My favourite Yoga studio in town, with a great variety of classes and workshops. Walk-ins are always welcome. Added benefit: the studio is in the same building as Karma Coffee. And if you are headed to Thamel, they have a studio there too.
If you are in need of a restorative massage or just to get pampered with a nice body scrub or a facial, the ladies at the Wellness Sanctuary are the place to go to. The studio is rather little and not as flashy as your ordinary luxury spas, but the place is clean and well tended to and the ladies that work there know their business. I loved their Ayurvedic Massage and kept coming back many times.
Venturing off the neighbourhood:
I loved living in Patan, but every now and then I still found myself in the more northern part of the city, and though many complain about the buzz of Thamel, I did quite enjoy to hangout there once in a while. Also it is a great starting point if you want to walk to Swayambu, or head to Kathmandu Durbar Square or the Palace Museum. So included here are four places I can recommend in Thamel.
A relaxed hangout right in the middle of busy Thamel, set in a courtyard of an old Newari house complex. Good food, a lot of Nepali and Indian choices but also your Western staples, good drinks, good coffee, live music on some nights.
A little hidden away, this all-vegetarian restaurant is worth looking for. Street-art on the walls, cushions on the floor, hippie-music playing from the stereo, and an extensive breakfast and dinner menu makes this a great place to hangout for a while.
Garden of Dreams and Kaisers Café
A haven right in the middle of busy Kathmandu, this garden is the place to spend a few hours to read, relax, enjoy the flowers and watch the chipmunks play. It is also a popular place for dating and selfies, so expect a lot of young Nepali couples sitting on the benches staring at each other all moony-eyed or finding the perfect pose in front of the many beautiful statues and fountains in this little park.
Roadhouse Café – Thamel and Boudha
Arguably the best pizza in Kathmandu and a fun place to hang out. The place in Thamel is nice, but I liked the branch in Boudha even better, since you get to sit on their roof-top terrace and enjoy the sight of Boudhanath Stupa while you enjoy your as-close-to-Italy-as-you-can-get-while-in-Kathmandu Pizza.
So this is it from my part. But as always I am curious to know: Which are your favourite places in Patan or in Kathmandu in general? Which secret spots did I miss? What do you recommend to people travelling to Kathmandu? Looking forward to reading your comments!