All that hiking and paragliding can make you hungry — and, funny enough, sitting meditation can too! Here is a guide to dining out and eating in for residents and visitors in Bir and Billing.
Restaurants in Upper Bir
- Four Tables: Run by an Indian from Germany who cooks very well. Moved a bit above town, and likely you’ll need a taxi to find it, at least the fist time.
- Lhakpa Café in the main bazaar of Upper Bir serves tasty veg momos, but they usually run out around 1:00pm so get there early.
- Bhawani Guest House, near the west end of Bir serves a wide variety of healthy and delicious food, but order in advance.
- Panditji, just west of the main intersection in Upper Bir, makes good samosas and pakoras in his shop (not signposted), and is a gentle and warm spirit.
Restaurants in Bir Tibetan Colony
- Green Guest House & Hygienic Restaurant Serves a variety of momos and other Tibetan dishes, just down the road from Deer Park Institute. Tel: 94181-05045
- Hotel Surya serves some of the best Indian meals in the Tibetan Colony and has WiFi.
- Norling (a.k.a. “Garden Café) serves the best traveler food (pasta, salads, etc.) in the colony.
- Friends Cafe does good thenthuk (Tibetan noodle soup with veggies) and decent momos.
- Little Places: There are three tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants just a few steps west of the Hotel Surya where you can find good momos, parathas, and simple Indian meals.
Restaurants in the Western Outskirts of Bir
- Ekant Homestay has a very good cook who has traveled extensively (in Ghornala Village, north of the road that goes between Bir and Sherab Ling).
- Sherab Ling Monastery has a simple restaurant that gets mixed reports.
If you’d like to cook your own meals, there are plenty of veggie vendors* in both Upper Bir and the Tibetan Colony. (*Note that meat is best avoided here even by non-vegetarians due to total lack of hygiene standards.) Kitchenware, including stainless steel cookware, plates, etc., can be purchased in a small steel goods shop on the NH20 just east of the Bir Road turnoff on the way to Chauntra, or in Baijnath. The only challenge is heat: cooking gas is in short supply and electric hobs are available but expensive. If your guesthouse owner or landlord can arrange cooking gas for you, that’s the best way. Otherwise, you can buy an electric hob (stove-like heating element) in Baijnath, Paprola, or Palampur and cook on that with approved (completely flat-bottomed) cookware.
Healthy & Vegan Options
Currently (as of 2015), the best (only) place to get all-natural, mostly-organic, mostly-local, and vegan food is at Dharmalaya Institute, which caters only to volunteers and programme participants (not a public restaurant).
Other possibilities: Four Tables sometimes can do well-prepared vegan meals with advance notice. The pasta at Norling (Garden Café) can be made vegan by special order. Lhakpa café in the Upper Bir bazaar serves vegan momos until around noon or so when they run out. One can also find vegan momos and parathas in the Tibetan Colony.
For healthy self-catering, one would do well to stock up on organic provisions at My Earth Store in Sidhbari, which is the closest shop catering to health-conscious people.