Eating & drinking in Bhutan

As a country where the vast majority of its inhabitants live at altitude, Bhutan’s cuisine has developed out of the limitations of such an environment. With farming being difficult heavy influence is placed upon meat and cheese as well as the centre piece of Bhutanese food – the chilli.

Back to all travel tips

Many travellers to Bhutan feel that the food provided is one of the least memorable aspects of their time in the country, as hotels do tend to play it safe. However Bhutan cuisine does have a few gems and if you eat out here is a short list of dishes to look out for:

  • Ema Datshi – A Bhutanese staple. This mixture of cheese, chilli and butter is served throughout Bhutan.
  • Kewa Datshi – Thinly sliced potatoes are thinly sliced then sautéed with cheese and butter. Occasionally other ingredients will be added but, by and large, this dish is all about the potatoes. 
  • Shamu Datshi – Similar to Ema datshi, this dish is a great alternative for those of us who are not fans of spice. Whilst chillies are used in Ema Datshi, Shamu Datshi makes use of mushrooms instead.
  • Shakam paa –  Dried beef cooked with chilli.
  • Phaksha paa – Thin slices of pork stir fried with chillies and vegetables.
  • Juma – Effectively the Bhutanese version of a sausage, minced meat, rice and spices are wrapped in small intestine.
  • Momos- These dumplings have made their mark throughout the entire Himalayan region however they are thought to originate in Bhutan.

Recommended restaurants in Thimphu

  • The Ara Bar - located at the Taj Tashi hotel
  • The Seasons – a good pizza restaurant
  • Karma's Coffee – a great place to hang out with a cappuccino
  • The Zone – very popular for US style options such as burgers
  • Upstairs – serves Asian food, including Korean, pizza and local dishes
  • ZaSa – well rated for local Bhutanese cuisine
  • Chula – a good Indian restaurant

Recommended restaurants in Paro

  • Yuelling – good local Bhutanese dishes
  • Soechey Restaurant - another good option for local dishes
  • Red Rice – more up market local restaurant
  • Bukhari Restaurant, Uma Paro – great luxury cuisine

The price of eating out in Bhutan
If you are looking to eat out whilst in Bhutan here are a few ideas about the costs involved:

  • Lunch or dinner in a simple local restaurant £3 - £4
  • Lunch or dinner in a mid-range local restaurant £8 - £12
  • Lunch or dinner in an upmarket local restaurant £12 - £18
  • Dinner in an international restaurant £25 - £50
  • Cost of dinner in a four star hotel including drinks £20 - £40
  • Beer £3