There’s no dearth of restaurants in Leh and we had a ball trying as many as we could. Although there are quite a few cafes and restaurants in the market area as well, we stuck to Changspa as the ones there were more accessible and less cramped for space. Out of all that we tried, the ones listed below were our top 3 choices, where we ate most of our meals.
Chinese Bowl – Vegetarian Fast Food
This was, hands-down, our most favorite eatery on Changspa. It’s located closer to the beginning of the street and can be easily missed as it is really just a hole-in-the-wall with about 5 tables for seating. The owner of the place is also the sole cook assisted by a young lad who serves the orders. All the cooking is done in an adjoining room, which is separated from the eating area by a curtain. Because of the reasonably priced menu, this place was a favorite with the backpackers, keeping all the tables occupied most of the times.
Apart from Indian-style Chinese food, we loved having breakfast here as the French Toasts, Egg Sandwiches, Crepes and Parathas were unbelievably delicious! For lunch, I loved the fixed Thalis, which for Rs.50 came with Rotis, Rice, Daal, Papad and 2 Sabzis – great value for money! However, since food was usually made to order, there was always a bit of a wait. But we didn’t care – the joint was a great place for sitting back and watching travelers from all over the world pass by!
Rating: 8 out of 10
Wonderland Restaurant and Coffee House
Located perfectly, almost at the center of Changspa, Wonderland Restaurant offers Indian, Chinese, Continental and Korean food. We loved coming here for its lively atmosphere, good quality food and nicely done interiors. It has terrace seating as well upstairs but we always ate in the dining hall at street level.
The owner of the restaurant is a friendly chap and we often chatted with him. We learnt that he was from Sikkim and lives in Leh only during the summer tourist season. He claims that the cast and crew of the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots often dined in his restaurant but since he was not really a movie buff, he did not even recognize the lead actor, Amir Khan, amongst them. When the movie released and became hugely popular, showcasing Ladakh in a big way, he made an effort to watch it and only then did he recognize the cast. We always came here when we wanted a change from the Chinese Bowl.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Located towards the end of Changspa, right by a stream, Otsal Restaurant was our favorite place to while away the afternoon. The restaurant is on the upper floor and accessed by steep stairs on the outside of the building. Inside, it’s a large a hall with regular table seating, as well as Ladakhi style seating on mattresses with low tables at the back of the room. We had heard that this restaurant serves great pizzas so that’s all we ate whenever we were there. And just as rumored, we found the pizzas to be freshly made, with good quality ingredients and quite yummy too.
But what made Otsal special was that it has a small collection of books and encourages its patrons to sit around reading and relaxing without being hurried away. Madhu and I have sat here, on the Ladakhi mattresses with cushions at our backs, reading, relaxing and eating all the same time for at least a couple of hours each time – it was a great way to spend the afternoons!
Rating: 8 out of 10