Awesome cafes to visit the next time you go to the Hills in India

There is something special about the quaint cafes in hills – Sometimes the ambiance, or the view or the cutlery they use or the fluffy dogs that become your friends for the meal. These cafes make you discover the hill town like a local and make you fall in love with them. There have been so many instances that you remember the hill town not for the places you visited but the cafes where you spent an entire afternoon because it was too cozy to leave.

I got together a few travelers who are avid foodies to share their first hand experience of the Awesome cafes you need to visit in Hills of India.

1) Cafe Kunzum Top, Tabo, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

If you are heading to Spiti this summer then you can`t miss out going to Tabo. Famous for the holiest monastery and caves, Tabo is a laidback backpacker`s paradise. With mushrooming of the tourism industry, one can find many options for accommodation and food, but Cafe Kunzum Top is a place one must not miss. Get the taste of authentic Spiti cuisine, read a book, listen to Buddhist chanting or sit back and relax. The food is delicious and the waiter will very patiently explain the ingredients and the recipes to you. My husband told me about this cafe when he visited two years back, so when I was backpacking myself I had to check it out. And, I am glad I did, loved the chilled out vibe of this cafe.


Cafe kumzum top, spiti

Photo and caption credit: Suman Doogar from Nomadic Shoes

2) Illiterati Cafe, Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh

Before heading to Mcleodganj for a volunteer activity, I was keeping a tab at ‘must visit cafes’ on a traveler’s Instagram account. The account talked a lot about Illiterati Cafe. Fortunately, one fine morning I got a chance to visit and that was my first stint to hang out with the books and the peaks! The ambiance of the cafe was pretty fine with light music in the background. For an avid reader, it is a must visit place since the books range from foreign languages, Indian Culture, Harry potter series, Mythological books and what not! I had a fellow traveller with me and we had the Kahva and lemon ice tea while discussing our experiences of Triund Trek. The view of the hills from the cafe balcony is breathtaking! I highly recommend it for anyone who loves music, food and wants to read with the Himalayan view. I have come back home happy with one more place ticked on my list.


Iliterati cafe

Photo credit: Ketki , Caption credit: Ritika Kapoor

3) Il Forno, Manali, Himachal Pradesh

On the way to Hadimba temple in Manali we came across this quaint little cafe cum restaurant and a friend who had visited earlier vouched for its authentic taste. This place had such positive vibes that we immediately felt at home. The rustic wooden tables, the oven spelling out aromas of fresh pizza was too tempting. After a quick order we went out to see the fabulous view it offered overlooking apples trees while relaxing in a hammock!

Apparently an Italian lady who fell in love with India and did not want to return opened up this cafe and that’s why the thin crust pizzas are so authentic. Check out their home made plum juice and I bet you to control ordering 2 more glasses.

Il Forno, Manali

Photo and caption credit: Suchit Gadre

4) Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen, Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh

Jimmy’s is a centrally located cafe famous for its cheesecakes and breakfast. Had a hard time searching for it as it located on first floor and after a few steep stairs you can come across this peaceful place,

I tried my personal favorite white sauce pasta and blueberry cheesecake to start off my day and I couldn’t be happier. It is an absolute must visit if in Mcleodganj.

Jimmy's italian kitchen

Photo and caption credit: Ketki from Explore with Ecokats

5) Cafe Diem, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

Cafe Diem is a very tastefully done cafe with hand painted menus and bottles with very cute aprons on them. They have a wonderful sitting area outside the cafe with an amazing view of the hills. Surprisingly they serve only vegetarian food.

Cafe diem

Photo and caption credit: Ashika N

6) Cafe Tee Off , Naldehra, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

We had gone on a trip to Shimla & Manali couple of years back with our family. On the first day of our stay in Shimla, we went on a trek to Naldehra. It was a lovely day with warm sunshine. After completing the trek, when we reached back to the starting point, by noon, we were pretty hungry. And that is when we spotted this cafe, right besides the starting point. Wondering, how we had not spotted it before, we entered inside. We were a little skeptical if we will get anything that qualifies as lunch since it was already 3pm. However, we took our seats on a table besides the window. And within moments we were all captivated by the views that spread in front of us. Soon the waiter came and asked about our food choices. Surprisingly, whatever we ordered from the menu, they were ready to prepare all that fresh and hot for us. Even a special meal order for our little daughter was entertained. This warm hospitality, combined with the views, I guess, became the reason that this cafe acquired a special place in our memories.

Photo and caption credit: Neha & Abhishek from Revolving Compass

7) The Culinarium, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

The Culinarium located on the Ooty Coonoor highway is a place not to miss. With a fantastic spread of breads, desserts, ice creams and a good combination of short eats, it is slowly gaining popularity. Having both indoor and outdoor seating, the café has a very vibrant atmosphere with friendly staff and overlooks the beautiful Ketti valley which is surrounded by scenic terraced fields.

The Culinarium, also features a boutique which stocks an extensive collection of exclusive and unique home and travel products. Certainly did not expect a high standard café and store like this in Ooty!

Photo credit: The Culinarium, Caption credit: Anisha Nithyanandam

Disclosure: This is a collab post. Explorewithecokats was not paid by any travelers mentioned here or sponsored a meal at any cafes featured here.

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23 thoughts on “Awesome cafes to visit the next time you go to the Hills in India

  1. Thanks for commenting on my blogpost! Xx Absolutely love your blog and blogging style Xx Subscribed to your posts now.

    There are a few things I love better than a good meal, luscious coffee and a view. It helps if the café is nestled in the hills of India. I have not ventured to North India in a long time and this post has me longing to plot an escape. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions and inspiration.


    1. I totally agree. I love sitting in a cafe looking at the mountains and sipping my hot coffee. It’s like meditation for me.

      I hope you visit the hills soon xx

  2. As soon as I saw your photos of Cafe Kunzum Top, I knew this would be my spot because I love Indian food. The Spiti cuisine looks absolutely amazing and I love that the waiter took his time to explain the ingredients. I also prefer a relaxed environment 🙂

    1. Thank you Candy. It’s always the relaxed atmosphere in these cafes on hills which makes the food awesome and not the other way around.

    1. Haha animal shaped food always intrigues me and then I don’t feel like eating bunny shaped pastries or panda shaped cupcakes or cat shaped cookies coz they’re too cute to eat!

  3. Whoa this is pretty awesome! I would love to go back to India and try out these cafes if I’m ever in that part of India again. Totally referring back to your post! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I will share this post with a friend who is leaving for India at the end of the month, it is always comforting to know where to get a good snack and cup of tea. Thanks for sharing, I am sure she will put this post to good use

  5. I really want to visit some of these beautiful hill towns in India, and will be armed with your list of cafes. I only read about Tabo recently, so that is now on my list. Illiterati Cafe looks like my kind of place, as a booklover and with views from balcony too. And unexpected pleasure to find good Italian food in such a cafe! I’m loving the look of the breads at Culinarium.

  6. Love the experience of sitting at small cafes and enjoying the natural beauty all around. Have not been to the north of India, but this cafe looks amazing! Fun article to read!

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