Restaurants and Tea shops in Tibet
Tibetans like eating out with their friends and family. You will easily find a variety of restaurants and tea shops everywhere across the plateau.
Restaurants are typically large, with lots of seating options. Some tables can be in Chinese style – round with the center part spinning around. But most tables are rectangular and can seat be combined to seat large companies. Tibetans go to restaurants for celebrations with a group of family or friends.
In addition to traditional Tibetan restaurants, you can find some Western-oriented restaurants in large cities. They would offer a menu in English with a combination of Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Western cuisine. A few coffee shops opened In Lhasa in recent years. They offer a good selection of coffees, teas, and desserts. In these restaurants, some stuff members usually speak English and can help you to order meals.
Tea shops are less formal than restaurants. Tibetans go there for an everyday meal. The service is very fast. Smaller tea shops often specialize in certain things, for example, Tibetan noodles or momos. In the smaller tea houses, you can rarely find the menu. All locals know what they have and order it. Typical dishes are meat or vegetable noodles in a broth, and momos, or Tibetan dumplings. Tea shops also serve sweet tea with milk or butter tea.
Some large tea houses offer a menu with a variety of Tibetan dishes. You most likely won’t find a menu in English, but many of the dishes have pictures that can help you to order. Going to one of these tea houses will be a great experience as you will soon become a center of attention. Food is usually good and inexpensive.
More Options and Information: Tea Houses in Lhasa
QUICK BITE AND FAST FOOD
Walking in Lhasa and while traveling in Tibet you can often see small stalls selling snacks. The most popular types are fried potatoes, cold noodles, dried cheese, dried yak meat, bread, and yogurt. In many places, you can also see fruit sellers.
There are a few fast-food chain restaurants in Lhasa and Shigatse, including KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Chinese fast food chain restaurant Dicos.
RESTAURANTS IN LHASA
TIBETAN FAMILY KITCHEN
One of the most popular Lhasa restaurants with Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Western meals on the menu. Food is consistently good and prices are reasonable. There is an outside roof top where you can enjoy the view when the weather is nice.
If you would like to deepen your experience, sign up for their cooking class and prepare your own meal!
HOUSE OF SHAMBHALA
The restaurant is located in hotel with the same name. Decoration is very cozy in Tibetan style. Meals are always delicious and beautifully served. One of the best places to try high-quality Tibetan food.
The restaurant is next door from Yak hotel. Previously owned by Dutch family, it is now Tibetan. What remained the same is a good selection of Western meals on the menu, and the bar stacked with wine and European beers. From the second floor terrace you can watch the busy Beijing road.
More Options and Information: The Best Restaurants in Lhasa
WHERE TO EAT IN SHIGATSE
Shigatse is the second-largest city in Tibet. However, most visitors pass it by and don’t stay there for more than a day. There are some restaurants catering to Western tourists, but a lot less than in Lhasa. Songtsen is one of the most popular restaurants among tourists. There are also several great Tibetan restaurants with a selection of traditional food. One of our favourite restaurants is located opposite side from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. The large restaurant serves traditional Tibetan food, is famous for its hotpot and delicious skillets of mixed vegetables and/or meat.
In addition to restaurants, there are many tea houses. On many tours, visitors reach Shigatse late in the evening.In that case, a nearby tea house that can serve food fast is a popular option.
WHERE TO EAT IN SAMYE
Samye attracts visitors who want to see the birthplace of Tibetan civilization. Here, king Trisong Detsen with the help of Padmasambhava built Samye monastery, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Many tourists visit this magnificent mandala-shaped complex.
Samye is a small town, and most restaurants are simple. They offer traditional Tibetan food. You can find restaurants serving Western breakfast. For lunch and dinner you can have noodles, momos, soups, vegetables, yak meat dishes and fried rice.
In addition, at the entrance gate to the Samye monastery you will see sellers with fried potato chips, cold noodles and cold jelly bean noodles. Be careful with spices as Tibetan eat very spicy food.
WHERE TO EAT IN REMOTE AREAS
When you are traveling away from Lhasa, you will see fewer options the farther you go. In most rural areas you will only see Tibetan dishes on the menu.
TRAVELING FROM LHASA TO EVEREST
On the way between Lhasa and Shigatse, and Shigatse to Everest you will make stops for lunch.
There are small town and villages along the way with tea houses offering traditional Tibetan meals. They usually have a good selection and an English menu.
EVEREST BASE CAMP
During the warmer months, from May until middle of October we are staying in the tent camp. There is a kitchen adjacent to the tent and you can order breakfast and dinner directly from the tent owner. For breakfast, you can order pancakes and tsampa. For dinner, they usually offer fried rice, noodles, some soups and yak meat dishes. There is also hot water available if you want to make your own noodles, oatmeal or tea, and coffee.
During the colder months we are staying in the monastery Guesthouse. They have a kitchen and offer simple Tibetan dishes.
There are some small restaurants in Darchen as well as several tea houses. Selection in restaurants is good, with Tibetan and Nepalese and Indian dishes.
Tea houses mostly serve simple Tibetan meals such as noodles and tea.
Mount Kailash is located in a very remote area and there is only a minimum option on the trekking route. There are tea houses on the way and also small restaurants in the guesthouses where we are staying overnight. Most of them offer only instant noodles and black or sweet tea. There are a couple of teahouses where you can order fried rice. We recommend bringing some snacks with you to supplement tea house meals.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FOOD AND WHERE TO EAT
POPULAR TOURS IN TIBET
8 DAYS LHASA TO EVEREST TOUR
A beautiful and exciting journey, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and going to the Everest Base Camp. The tour visits Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera, Drepung and Tashilhunpo monasteries, Kumbum Stupa, Yamdrok Lake and Karola glaciers.
Both group and private tours are available
15 DAYS MOUNT KAILASH TOUR
One of our most popular group tours, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and going to Mount Kailash for three-day trekking around this sacred mountain. During this tour, we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse monastery and Kumbum stupa, Mount Everest, Lake Manasarovar, Mount Kailash, and much more.
7 DAYS LHASA TO NEPAL OVERLAND
This tour starts in Lhasa. We will stay there for 2 days to explore the capital and acclimatize. After that, we will head to the center of attraction in Himalayas – Mount Everest. We will spend a night by the highest mountain on a planet and continue driving through majestic mountain ranges, alongside rivers and waterfalls to the border between Tibet and Nepal.