When we think about cafes in Manali, its never just about the food. Its the vibe of the place. You would have heard that famous quote, ‘Your vibe attracts your tribe’. You will realise that if you resonate with the vibe of a cafe, you are likely to become a regular. Vibe is the product of a lot of things coming together including but not limited to location, hosts, staff, view, food, music, ambience, hygiene and crowd.
Thanks to the work-from-home scenario introduced due to Covid-19, we took a road trip from Bangalore to Manali and have been staying here for last 3 months. During this time we got a chance to explore some really amazing cafes that were operating and diligently following all Covid safety guidelines.
Here’s a list of some of these amazing cafes in Manali.
The Lazy Dog – This one is my favourite. It is located in Old Manali, beside a river and has a beautiful vibe to itself. The gushing sound of water can be heard above the music which adds a unique charm to the place. The food is delicious and the view is breathtaking. They have both indoor as well as outdoor seating.
Must try : Cafe Mocha, Hummus platter.
Cafe 1947(Vashisth) – There are 2 branches, one in Old Manali(It didn’t open in 2020) and the other one in Vashisth. It is located on the Manali-Leh highway and is located besides the Beas river. You can enjoy the contemporary interiors inside or a gorgeous river side seating outside. The view from the cafe is like one of those paintings we used to draw in our childhood with Mountains, river and small houses.
Must try : Nachos and Pina colada.
Il forno – Sometimes I wonder how come this place is not as popular as other cafes in the town. It is located near Hadimba Temple and I guess people miss it because of the traffic on that road. However, I will highly recommend it for Italian cuisine.
Must try : Pink sauce pasta, Veggie special pizza. And !! You have to absolutely try their desert Fiamette, prepared by loading lots and lots of chocolate mousse on their home baked cookie and yeah, its just the best mousse I have ever had.
Trippy Travelete – The cafe is in the Mountain House Manali Homestay. The hosts are very warm and welcoming. You can visit this place as a day outing or an overnight stay since it requires a bit of hiking, that starts at the Vashisth temple. You can park your car in the parking and then follow the path that crosses from the front of the temple. You can enjoy their home brewed Sing-Sing wine and Lahual cuisine brunch. You can also hike to the nearby Togo waterfall. One of the hosts accompanies you to guide you on the trail.
Must try : The speciality of this place is the Lahual brunch and locally available wine made by rice.
Johnson’s Cafe – One of the oldest cafes of the town, located close to the Mall Road circle. It has a beautiful architecture made of wood that adds an authentic Himachali feel to the place. It is famous for its trout fish(a fresh water fish). I am a vegetarian and hence I will have to go by the word of my friends who tried it and said it was delicious. They stock some well known wines and champagne.
Must Try : Trout fish, hand rolled pasta.
Outside-in – this is a beautiful and quaint place tucked amidst apple orchards around 100 m from the Manali-Leh highway. It has an amazing vibe and is run by a wonderful host, Aditi. The menu is fantastic and one of its kind. Especially, if you are a vegan and generally prefer healthy and yogic diet, this place is ideal for you. They also have staying options in beautiful cottages overlooking the mountains and river.
Must Try : Pancake, Burger
Dylan Cafe – Your visit to Old Manali is incomplete if you haven’t had Dylan’s coffee and ChocoChip cookie. It is on the main road and you cannot miss the amazing graffiti on its wall. The host is very welcoming and If the place is not busy you can talk to him and listen to his story behind starting this cafe.
Must Try : Cafe Mocha, Cappuccino, Dark choco-chip cookie.
Amigos German Bakery – This cafe is located on the Mall Road and serves lots and lots of delicious bakery items along-with some really nice coffee. It opens up pretty early in the morning.
Must Try : Masala tea, Croissant, Omelette, Chocolate Fudge cake.
The Castle, Naggar is a heritage hotel converted from Naggar castle , a 600 year old historical palace built by Raja Sidh Singh in 1460. Its a great visual example of old himachal architecture style where construction is done with rocks and wood. The hotel houses stay options in the palace rooms along with a cafe which serves some lip smacking dishes. The views from the deck are breathtaking.
Must try : Masala Chai
German bakery(Naggar) – This bakery is situated right outside the naggar castle. Though very small in size and difficult to spot, it churns out delicious items including lemon cakes , cookies and chocolate brownies. The best part is they are baked fresh and soft and literally melts in your mouth.
Must try – Lemon cake, Cafe Mocha
I hope you find this above list useful for your next visit to Manali.
The Seeking Soul