Jaisalmer India – Best Places to Eat and Dishes to Try
For those whose stomachs and knees are getting fed up with food consumed standing up on India’s streets, Jaisalmer is here to help. The ancient desert city might attract a lot of backpackers, but more than other cities, Jaisalmer specialises in atmospheric and relaxed restaurants where you can sample food from all over the world. This makes it the perfect place to experiment with Rajasthani food, and Jaisalmeri cuisine in particular, which is more heavily-spiced and more likely to contain meat than the rest of the state. Sit back, relax, and take in the spectacular views of Jaisalmer Fort.
Cuisine in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer’s cuisine varies slightly from the rest of Rajasthan, and is a prominent exception to the mostly-vegetarian cuisine found elsewhere. To get adventurous, we recommend you get your hands on some dal bhati choorma, which are balls of dough baked in a tandoor and used to mop up dal or other curries. Make sure to also sample ker sangri, which is a truly Jaisalmeri dish of desert beans and capers which you won’t find anywhere else. Non-vegetarians absolutely can’t leave Rajasthan without trying laal maas, a fiery mutton curry in a yoghurt chilli sauce which is not for the faint of heart. If you know where to look, all of these dishes can be found around Jaisalmer.
Bhang, or cannabis, is legal in Jaisalmer, and is a traditional part of Rajasthani culture. Now we’re not saying we’d recommend it, but there are several government-authorised bhang shops in Jaisalmer that serve bhang lassi and other mind-altering treats to those who are so inclined. If you do decide to try it, be completely sure the stall you find is government licenced.
As Jaisalmer is primarily a tourist town without a large population of workers, there is less street food to be found here than in other parts of Rajasthan and India. However, if you take a stroll around Bhatia Bazaar or Sadar Bazaar, you’re bound to find street food sizzling away amongst the embroidered bags and leather goods. Street food here will be much cheaper (and probably spicier) than you’ll find in restaurants, and shouldn’t cost more than INR 10-20 for things such as a bag of pyaaz kachoori, or fried dough balls stuffed with a spicy onion mixture.
Jaisalmer is known around India for its unique and delicious sweets. For the best of the best, we’d recommend you head to Dhanraj Bhatia Sweets near the fort, where you can sample traditional Jaisalmeri sweets for only a few rupees!
For those on the hunt for excellent Jaisalmeri or Rajasthani food, any of the restaurants on the list below should hit the spot.
Zoya Ka Zayeka – Shiv Road
You know how people say that the best food in India is cooked inside peoples’ homes? Well Zoya Ka Zayeka is probably as close as you’ll get to experiencing a home-cooked meal while travelling around India without breaking and entering. Set in a laid back rooftop atmosphere, this homely little restaurant run by a very friendly host cooks up delectable Rajasthani curries to hungry travellers. You’ll feel relaxed and satisfied at any time of the day at extremely good prices.
Restaurant Romany – Rooftop of the Hotel Prithi Palace
This open-air restaurant has lovely but distant views of Jaisalmer Fort and a menu which contains all the Rajasthani classics that visitors have to try. For vegetarians, the gatte ki sabji (dumpling curry) is a must-order, while meat eaters will be thrilled with the Romany’s laal maans. The service here is terrific and prices reasonable, although expect to pay more than usual for meat dishes.
Free Tibet Restaurant – inside Jaisalmer Fort
While Free Tibet doesn’t technically serve Rajasthani food, we recommend it for its utterly delicious and cheap Tibetan fare, which is popular in other parts of India but hard to come by in hot and dry Rajasthan. Soft and supple momos, comforting noodle soups and spicy stir-fries are on the menu at this no-frills rooftop restaurant, and most dishes are under INR 200, making it a bargain to boot!
While it’s not hard to find a rooftop restaurant in Jaisalmer, there are some that stand out for their stylish décor, breath-taking views of the fort, and higher prices, making them the perfect place for a romantic meal.
Saffron – Gandhi Chowk
Set atop the Hotel Nachana Haveli and decorated luxuriously in draped silks and antique furniture, Saffron is the place for a special night. The food is mostly Indian but there are Italian options that are worth trying as well. The menu allows diners to try a range of traditional Rajasthani dishes cooked with excellent produce, all available at slightly higher than average prices. Expect to pay around INR 300 per curry. But most importantly, Saffron is the perfect place to sit back with a glass of wine or a cocktail and soak in terrific views of the fort.
The Trio – Gandhi Chowk
Sit under the colourful tented roof at The Trio restaurant and sample a vast range of Rajasthani specialties all served with style and class. The dishes may not be any better than most of the other restaurants around town, but the atmosphere here is unique for its relaxed yet elegant feel. We loved the traditional Jaisalmer band that plays most nights. We especially recommend the Rajasthani thalis.
Western and international food
Visitors in Jaisalmer will never struggle to find international dishes for when they feel like them. Here are some of the best on offer.
Gaji’s Restaurant – on top of Gaji Hotel, near Sunset Point
Finding European food in India is never a problem, but restaurants serving food from East Asia are a rare and special occurrence. Serving surprisingly good Korean and Japanese fare, Gaji’s rooftop restaurant will satisfy your craving for Asian flavours. The prices are low and service and quality fairly good, and so if you’ve ever wanted to eat sushi in the desert, this is definitely the place to come.
1st Gate Home Fusion – Dhibba Para
1st Gate Home Fusion is an ever-busy and reliable spot to relax with a glass of wine and a pizza whilst gazing at the gargantuan Jaisalmer Fort. This restaurant gives off an air of cleanliness and class, and though their pizzas are definitely more of the Indian style (puffy dough and lots of cheese), we couldn’t deny that they’re tasty. 1st Gate is open for every meal of the day, but you should expect to pay moderate to high prices.
Cafes and coffee houses
- Kuku coffee shop – inside Jaisalmer Fort
Kuku coffee shop is probably the best, if not the only, place to drink proper coffee in Jaisalmer. Not only does it serve excellent coffees, but Kuku is also an excellent place to hang out or kill time. It may not be fancy (at all), but the view couldn’t get any better, and the service is friendly and efficient. Kuku also serves a variety of snacks, and bigger meals if you feel like it, all at very low cost.