Rishikesh, India
Rishikesh, India by Rick McCharles

Rishikesh India – Best Places to Eat and Dishes to Try

As Rishikesh is one of India’s holy cities, the sale and consumption of liquor and meat is rigorously not encouraged and even forbidden there. As such, no bars are to be found in Rishikesh and the cuisine is entirely vegetarian. A quite simple one, but heavenly delicious. The most prevalent cuisine is naturally North Indian, but influences from other in-country and international cuisines are rather apparent.

Local specialties

Indian cuisine, although sharing basic common ingredients, tends to differ from north to south, from state to state, or even within the same state. Therefore, each place enjoys its own particular local specialties, and Rishikesh is not an exception.

One of the most notable local dishes one can find here is the samosa. This deep-fried delicacy stuffed with spicy potatoes, or lentils and onions, is ideal not only for breakfast but also as a snack. Masala chai, aka spicy tea with milk, is also very special here thanks to the local spices. Last but not least is the lassi, a thicker version of buttermilk, that usually comes in flavours, such as mango or banana. The most fascinating culinary habit of local eateries is that the meal is prepared right in front your eyes since the kitchen is basically at the entrance of the restaurant.

Street food

Street food can be found all over the city and is ridiculously cheap. Many stalls offer a variety of items from Tibetan momos (the famous dumplings made from white-flour-and-water dough with vegetable filling) to samosas and pakoras. Chai and butter cookies are literally everywhere.

One such momo stand, very popular among travellers, is in Laxman Jhula area, right across the Tibetan shops at the main road. Here, they make the classical momos with vegetables, but also the quirky Nutella momos that pleasantly surprise your palate. Chowmein (stir-fried noodles with soy sauce and vegetables) and mouth-watering vegetable burgers are at peak demand also. Momos cost about INR50, whereas the Nutella ones cost INR100. Chowmein and burgers also cost INR50.

Another well-known street food place is located also in Laxman Jhula, opposite the only pharmacy of this area. The stand offers delicious samosas and pakoras which go along well with a lovely chai. You can sit on the few benches inside or outside, and socialize with people stopping by for a quick snack. Samosas usually cost between INR15 to INR30.

Local restaurants

Not to be missed are definitely the local restaurants for a better understanding of the very tasty Indian food. For a unique authentic local experience try the Purple Dhaba (restaurant), located at Laxman Jhula main road. Here, both locals and foreigners come to try some delightful local dishes, such as palak paneer (a vegetarian dish consisting of paneer with spinach puree and spices) or an aloo parantha for breakfast (a bread dish with mashed potatoes and spices). Main dishes might cost up to INR200, whereas snacks cost about INR80. We actually enjoyed our meal at the cosy little terrace while blissfully gazing at the Ganges river.

Besides that, another quite popular local restaurant which serves international food too, is the Chotiwala restaurant at Swargashram, Ram Jhula. The peculiarity of the place lies in the welcome guy with the painted face who sits outside like an attraction. The local cuisine is simply gorgeous and has received awesome reviews. It is one of the oldest restaurants in Rishikesh and always keeps up with its fabulous reputation. The staff is very helpful and the prices quite reasonable: for a superb dal makhni dish (black lentils with red kidney beans in buttery sauce) you will pay about INR150. We have to admit, though, that the place is very touristic and somewhat noisy as well.

Western and international food

Undoubtedly one of the best eateries with international cuisine, as well as local, is Freedom Café, located on top of the riverbank at Laxman Jhula. Locals will happily point out the way. The chill out atmosphere with the comfy floor cushions and the splendid river view make it the perfect place to enjoy a soothing sunset. Pizzas and falafel platters are some of the greatest choices here. The most expensive dish will cost you about INR280. Thumbs up for the great vibes and the smiley staff who made sure our meal was prepared with much love. Quite often, the restaurant hosts live concerts where very talented local musicians make you feel blessed for being there.

The Beatles Café/60’s Café is a moderately priced restaurant that serves excellent western food, for those days you feel overwhelmed by local food choices. The place offers a great terrace with an amazing river view (as with every place in Rishikesh!). Pasta is one of the must-try dishes and the menu is in general up to date and kind of different from the usual ones. Since it usually gets very busy, especially during the evenings, you might have to wait before you get seated. You will find it in Paidal Marg, Tapovan.

Cafes and coffee houses

Coffee houses, bakeries or juice shops abound also in Rishikesh. There is hardly any place that serves solely drinks or merely food, but each of them usually specializes in something different.

One such place, that is actually a café, bakery, restaurant, and guesthouse all together, is the Pumpernickel German Bakery in Laxman Jhula, near the post office. Here, you will find one of the best coffees in town which we suggest to accompany with any of the utmost fresh pastries, like dark chocolate brownie or even coconut cookies. The café has a great balcony with a stunning view of the river flowing by and calming your mind. The staff is very welcoming and the prices rather normal. A single espresso costs about INR50 and a chocolate croissant INR30. Their vegan and gluten-free menu is also highly appreciated mostly by yoga fans.

Another ideal place for the coffee lovers with fair prices is the Urban Sip Café, located at Swargashram. The cappuccino here is almost as much good as an original Italian one. The view from the first floor is simply breathtaking and the ambience of the place just unbeatable. The staff here has been very cooperative and friendly, a fact which prompted us to come back. The ginger-lemon-honey drink is a must-try one as well as the very yummy pizzas.

Not to miss

Absolutely a place to remember and a must-try experience is Ramana’s Organic Café. As the name suggests itself, the food is purely organic here and the beautiful surroundings are simply irresistible. The story behind it is even more intriguing. It is actually a school and orphanage together, hence most part of the earnings is going towards the well-being of the children. The place is run by foreign volunteers and the meals are cooked with unlimited love. The children living there are all very hospitable and will happily chat with you once you visit. The prices might be a bit higher compared to other places around, but definitely worth it. You will find it in Laxmanjhula Road, Tapovan.

The list of good eating venues in a touristic place like Rishikesh is just endless. Nonetheless, most venues offer excellent fresh food, be it local or western. Rest assured that once you dive into the local flavours, you won’t want to come out. Besides, a great way to discover a country is by tasting the food.