Where to Eat in Rishikesh - Advice on Cheap Food and Clean Eateries
Rishikesh is popular with tourists and therefore it has plenty of places to eat. But although there is a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, not all of them are trustworthy.
Like Delhi, Rishikesh is one of those places in which it’s easy to get food poisoning. Although I’ve visited this Indian town a few times before, staying a month or two during each visit, every time I visited this place I ended up with stomach problems. So it’s not only the newcomers that get unlucky!
I've created this hub to share my experiences with different eating establishments as well as different types of foods in Rishikesh to help you choose eateries selling hygienic and wholesome food.
Why Food Poisoning Is Common In Rishikesh
The reason it’s easy to get food poisoning in Rishikesh is because dishes are sometimes prepared in unhygienic conditions, and some restaurants suffer from pests like cockroaches (I sincerely hope not all of them, but I really don’t know).
Even the last time I visited Rishikesh, which was on September 2016, I ended up with food poisoning. I’m almost sure that this time I got sick because I ate a couple of times at Choti Wala, which is located in Ram Jhula.
The reason I ate there was because during my earlier visits to Rishikesh I would have meals at this eatery quite often without any ill effects. But this time I kept having stomach problems, and they only finished when I no longer visited that eatery. So if I were you, just to be on the same side, I'd avoid that place.
Here's a good tip for you: the first time you visit Rishikesh, do some research to find restaurants and cafes that are popular at the time of your visit; which are clean and offer good-quality food.
Rishikesh is one of those places where it's not recommended to each time dine at a different place. You won't end up having a great experience in each restaurant or cafe, but you're more likely to end up in bed suffering from stomach crams.
If I were you, therefore, I'd stick to a few tried-and-tested places; the places that are busy and clean, and I'd eat only there for the rest of my stay. In my opinion, it's better to try out fewer food varieties and save your health than to experiment with eating in different places each time and end up getting serious stomach problems.
If A Place Is Highly Rated, Doesn’t Mean It’s Still Good
It’s also important to understand that even though some restaurant or café is highly rated on Tripadvisor or recommended on Lonely Planet, that doesn’t mean that their standards have remained the same since they got good rating or recommendation.
It’s very usual for Indian restaurants and cafes to go down in quality after they become popular. Also, being highly recommended and well-reviewed, the owners of those eateries quite often inflate their prices, and the staff no longer treat customers as well as before their fame. You’d think that after good reviews they’d try to please customers even more, but not so in India… I’m not saying this applies to all cafes and restaurants, but I'm afraid it’s almost a rule.
The reason I’m telling you this is because I don’t want you to read my good reviews of certain restaurants and then to go there and get disappointed.
Having said that, during my latest visit to Rishikesh I found a couple of great places to eat. The two restaurants that I regularly ate at were the ones that were well-established and I can say that the quality hadn’t deteriorated since my previous visits to this town.
I'm going to review these two restaurants next.
CAFE AND RESTAURANT REVIEWS
A Restaurant With A Great View And A Cool Breeze
The first restaurant I’d like to mention is German Bakery located just at the start of the Laxman Jhula Bridge, on the opposite side of the touristy part of Laxman Jhula. Here's a map that shows its location:
I love this restaurant not so much for its food, but for the view. It has one of the best views in that area, overlooking the Ganges River and the Laxman Jhula Bridge. It also gets a nice cool breeze from the river, since it has almost no walls but only floor-to-ceiling windows.
Sometimes, however, it’s better to keep the windows closed, since sometimes naughty monkeys jump in to steal sugar and to look for other food. Some new tourists carelessly leave their personal belongings as well as bags in front of a full-opened window; but this can be dangerous, because monkeys can steal them too.
I’ve read the warning somewhere that ‘holy men’ (beggars dressed in orange robes) train monkeys to steal people’s mobile phones and other personal belongings. When the bag or any other belonging gets stolen, the ‘holy man’ approaches a distressed victim and offers his services of recovering the lost items from monkeys for some amount of money.
So make sure you never leave your personal belongings on the table there, but keep them in the bag, and keep the bag close to you.
The food in German Bakery is okay. I’m not afraid to eat there, because the food seems to be prepared in clean conditions. The taste is just regular, the prices are regular, maybe to the higher side for certain dishes, though food prices in Rishikesh cafes and restaurants are generally quite low as is usual in North Indian village-like places.
I personally like the sandwiches of this bakery; they use good quality cheese and aren’t stingy about it, so if you order a cheese sandwich, for example, you’ll get a good slice of it with a fair amount of butter.
Milk tea is sometimes great, sometimes watery. It's served in a small cup and is a little expensive for the amount that they serve.
Although this time I didn’t order coffee, a year ago they were quite well known for their filter coffee, if I remember right (I don't remember if it was filter or Kerala style coffee that they were famous for).
A Good Place For Bakery Items
The next restaurant that I've often eaten at during this and my previous visits is Pumpernickel Bakery. It’s located at the end of the Laxman Jhula tourist spot.
You can see its location here:
I like this restaurant for its good quality bakery items that are well-sized and inexpensive. I especially loved their apple pie, and having noticed others choosing it over other bakery items, I’m assured that it’s a personal favorite of many Rishikesh tourists.
I think all other bakery items are great too – at least the ones that I've tried. You can also get vegan dessert options there, such as vegan chocolate cake or a vegan energy ball (which is available in German Bakery too, and it tastes great there).
What’s also great about this bakery is that they heavily discount bakery items left unsold from the previous day. You can purchase them for fifty per cent off, which is great for those on a really tight budget.
They also serve great quality chai (milk tea) every time; you get a good quantity of it, served in a tall glass.
Beware Of Ajinomoto Widely Used In India
This bakery also offers tasty vegetable fried rice, though be sure to ask the staff to make it without ajinomoto.
Ajinomoto is an artificial ingredient that cooks in India and Nepal love to use to improve the flavor of some dishes, especially Chinese dishes.
They add it to the dishes such as chow mein noodles, the mentioned fried rice as well as momos. If such dishes are sold cheaply, it's almost certain that this chemical was added to improve the taste.
So all those momos you’ll see in Rishikesh that are sold for fifty to eighty rupees are with this chemical, and the cooks cannot remove it, since they usually have it already mixed into the pre-made filling.
You can, though, ask for this harmful additive not to be used for making certain dishes such as fried rice; I still don't know if they’d definitely not use it, but hopefully they'll keep the promise. If you really want to be on the safe side, avoid ordering Chinese dishes or the dishes that are incredibly cheap.
Also, when you visit some restaurant, you can simply ask if they add ajinomoto to any of their dishes. If they say that they do, ask to which dishes, so that you avoid them.
Review Of Pumpernickel Bakery Continued
In general, all the dishes I’ve tried there throughout the years proved to be great.
Dishes come in large portions, and they use good quality ingredients to make them.
For example, there is a breakfast option of brown bread toast with different spreads.
Whatever spread you order, you'll get two large slices of good-quality brown bread with a good amount of whichever spread you chose.
The price is very low, making it probably the best value breakfast option in town.
The waiters there, however, are a little shady. They are young guys usually dressed in black, with black caps and skull and bones emblems on caps or their clothing.
In the previously reviewed German bakery, however, the staff are dressed casually, are humble and polite, so I definitely prefer the customer service there.
Another Cozy Cafe With A Breath-taking View
During my last visit I discovered a new cafe. I'm not sure if it's truly new or not, but I hadn't seen it during my previous visits.
It's called Lotus Café, and is located a little further away from the main tourist spot.
I couldn't find it on the map, but it's located near the Tapovan resort; I've put a black dot on the map where this cafe is supposed to be located:
To get to this cafe, you’ll need to cross the Laxman Jhula Bridge, climb up the stairs, and then follow the road up, passing the Honey Hut Café.
Keep walking, and you’ll eventually come across, on your left, a bunch of old buildings and stairs leading steeply up, with beggars on low steps. That's also the place where the main road branches off into two, the tiny way up on your left, and the main road continuing on the right.
So the Lotus Cafe is located at that branching point, on your left. It might be a little difficult to spot, since first you’ll only see a gate and not a building itself. When you pass through the gate-looking structure, you’ll be led, by a narrow path, to that café located on the first floor (you’ll need to use a staircase to get to the upper floor).
This cafe has a stunning river Ganges view, and is naturally air-conditioned because it’s quite high up, surrounded by mountainous places. Food there is well priced, though maybe a little bit more expensive than in German Bakery, but maybe it just so appeared to me.
The food there was good. The chai was milky enough, and they made latte the way that I wanted.
One time they made chai with sugar though I haven’t asked for this addition, and, when I told them about it, they claimed that they didn’t add it. But when I assured them that the chai was sweet, they replaced it.
Their sandwiches are good, and their fried rice is tasty and fried with a small amount of oil. But the fried rice you get there costs 100 rupees and you get a smaller portion than if you were to order the same dish in Pumpernickel Bakery for 80 rupees.
The Lotus Café is good to relax in, because it has low-tables, is carpeted, and many tourists choose to lie down and to just enjoy the place. Sometimes tourists (or maybe waiters too) play guitar there, and this place is popular with Israelis.
A Tiny Eatery For Milky Tea And Pastries
Lastly, I’d like to mention a very small café (if that place can be even called so) selling only a very limited variety of food items. This cafe has a limited variety of bakery items too, but the ones that they do have are well-sized, fresh, and probably the cheapest in town.
This place also offers some sandwich options, and, if I remember correctly, some breakfast items. I once ordered a sandwich there but didn’t like it, because they used a lot of mayo which I don’t like. I would have preferred butter, but I didn’t know that they add mayo and not butter, so I didn’t let them know my preference. Also, the sandwich was smaller and (I think) more expensive than in German Bakery.
So although sandwiches aren’t great there, bakery items and chai are. In this bakery the staff make really good milky chai (you get it in a tall glass) and prepare it in the way that you like. They also have great cookies; I tried a sesame cookie there and it was really tasty (priced at twenty rupees).
They have only three tables to sit at – two inside the eatery, and one outside, close to the bakery items display counter.
I haven’t even noticed the name of this eatery, but I marked its location on a map with a black dot; it's just opposite to the Chatsang Cafe:
HIGHER-END CAFES IN RISHIKESH
Honey Hut Cafe
Rishikesh has two chain coffee shops: Honey Hut Café, a café chain serving North India, as well as Café Coffee Day, the chain spread throughout the whole of India.
I love Honey Hut Café, because they prepare great cappuccinos and the honey they provide with every drink is excellent. They sell all kinds of honey in their cafe, including honey with cashews, as well as chocolates made with honey.
I think I paid seventy-nine rupees for my cappuccino without tax. So for this amount I got a creamy cappuccino and I could pour as much honey into it as I wished, as they give you a small glass jug of honey to help yourself. So I think this is a great value for money, considering that it's an air-conditioned place as well, with comfortable sofas.
(Just to let you know, it's better to pour honey in when the coffee has cooled down, since some people in India say that honey becomes poisonous when mixed with hot liquids; I'm not sure if it's true, but I follow this advice anyway:))
I liked the Honey Hut Café that’s located in the Ram Jhula area more than the other available branch. And although the food of the other outlet, located on the other side of the Laxman Jhula Bridge, was the same, I didn’t like the attitude of staff there, since they talked really loud, kept laughing aloud and acted unprofessionally during my visit, so I couldn’t really enjoy my drink.
I cannot say if their dessert and food items are quality, since I haven’t tried most of them. They looked average, and are probably quite sugary as well, as it's usual in India. That's what I notice about more luxurious coffee chains in India - they sell good coffee, but the cakes and pastries aren't quality - they're too sweet and made of poor-quality ingredients; with the exception of Costa Coffee in Delhi, but that's not an Indian chain.
When it comes to the sweet options of this cafe, I only tried its small chocolates placed on top of the dessert display counter. Those chocolates were exceptional, priced fifteen rupees each (without tax). I ended up eating double the amount I’d planned to eat!
Cafe Coffee Day
This time I haven’t visited two Café Coffee Day outlets in Rishikesh. There’s one just at the beginning of the touristy part of the Laxman Jhula area close to the bridge and facing the Jeep Parking area (the taxi stand). Like from a year ago, this time I saw only a few bakery items on display in their bakery counter.
Maybe this outlet isn’t that in demand there, so they have only a few pastries to offer. Also, this chain offers quite poor-quality bakery items anyway, so they probably cannot compete with much lower priced and much-better-quality bakery items abounding in Laxman Jhula.
I like this coffee chain anyway – not for their bakery items or cakes (they’re overly sugary and fatty), but for their coffee, which is high quality. The price, however, is quite high – even for herbal teas you'd pay around hundred rupees, and the same applies to coffees.
Another CCD outlet is located in the Ram Jhula area, close to the Choti Wala restaurant. I like this outlet more, because it’s located in a more peaceful area. The other outlet, as I’ve mentioned, is located just in front of a jeep parking place, so it’s impossible to sit outside due to the car pollution and constant beeping; and even if you sit inside, there’s no good view.
So the Ram Jhula outlet is located in a better, quieter, area, and I prefer its design. I think both places serve the same quality of coffee (but that's not always true about Cafe Coffee Day outlets, though - for example, in Haridwar my latte was watery, and so it was in Ernakulam).
CCD is a good choice to escape the heat, since their outlets are air-conditioned; and the seats are comfortable.
About Rishikesh Street Food
If you want to try out Rishikesh street food (though I don’t recommend it, as most of it isn’t hygienic), you’ll find most of the options available in the area of Ram Jhula.
There you’ll find women grilling corn on the roadside; you’ll find old women heating large papadums (disc-shaped crispy pancake-like snacks); you’ll also see some young men selling fried potato cutlets which they handle with fingers – I’ve never seen them use any kitchen utensils.
I’m sure that there are many more street food options to choose from, but since I wasn’t interested in them, I wasn't taking notice of them.
Buying Fruit And Vegetables In Rishikesh
Bananas are sold in many places in Rishikesh. If you’re looking to save money, it’s better not to buy them from street sellers located in the tourist hub of Laxman Jhula. Those sellers usually also press fruit juices. They charge more than the sellers located away from the touristy place.
In the Laxman Jhula area, you’ll find cheaper options for bananas and other fruit if you go towards the Laxman Jhula bridge and then keep walking past it until you see many small shops on both sides of the street, looking like a dirty mini-market.
If you continue along it, you’ll soon see fruit sellers located on both sides of the road. There you’ll be able to buy cheaper fruits and vegetables than in the main tourist area. Make sure to negotiate, though. If I remember correctly, for twelve pieces of bananas I paid fifty rupees. Six small bananas should cost around twenty rupees, though sometimes only in Ram Jhula you can buy them so cheaply.
But although fruits in Ram Jhula are generally cheaper, you won’t get a large variety of them. Mainly you’ll only see apples and bananas sold, whilst in Laxman Jhula you’ll get many more fruit and vegetable varieties.
A Traditional Rishikesh Fruit
On the road between Laxman and Ram Jhula, you may see some sellers selling an interesting fruit which looks like a huge green orange. The meat of that fruit is red.
It’s really tasty and I think it’s great for health. It’s refreshing and it’s worth to try it just because it’s truly a local fruit. Maybe it’s the only fruit that’s truly from Rishikesh. Even apples are imported from Himachal Pradesh.
Those huge-sized orange-like fruits cost around 30 rupees; maybe even less. I bought it only once this time; the old man I bought it from tried to really rip me off, asking 50 rupees for one. I wasn’t in the mood to really negotiate, so I settled for 30. So it might priced lower.
After the purchase, ask the seller to cut its skin, since it’s very thick so it could be tricky to remove without the help of a knife.
Stores in the touristy part in Laxman Jhula sell only very expensive ice-cream, for around 120-240 rupees. But really no need to buy it for so much money, when just out of the touristy place you’ll get it for 30-60 rupees.
Look for ice-cream sellers pushing ice-cream carts; sometimes they're located near both bridges on the touristy side of the river. Also, look for Milma ice-cream brand as that's a good-quality one; though this brand can in no way equal luxury Baskin'n'Robbins brand whose store I've also seen in Rishikesh, close to the Honey Hut Cafe on the other side of the Laxman Jhula Bridge.
If you get the ice-cream from the other side of the Laxman Jhula Bridge, it may even cost you twenty rupees for a simple milk ice-cream stick covered with chocolate. If you want it in chocolate or strawberry flavor and with nuts or other additions, the price will rise to around forty or fifty rupees. A good-sized milk ice-cream cone should cost around thirty to forty rupees.
The only place that sells cheap ice-cream very close to the touristy part of Laxman Jhula is the restaurant located just after the mini-bridge when you've passed the Laxman Jhula bridge and keep walking towards the tourist hub. It will be on your right side.
That's the first restaurant after crossing that mini-bridge, and it has a counter with cakes and pastries that can be seen through the glass. Their pastries are average and cakes too sugary, but there you can also get really cheap Indian food, but I didn't particularly like the taste, because the ingredients used were probably cheap.
But their ice-cream was good, and I paid only thirty rupees for a double-scoop of vanilla ice-cream (it wasn't Milma though). For a single scoop it's twenty rupees, and for a double scoop of chocolate ice-cream you'll pay fifty rupees.
I hope that the advice in this hub will help you to have a more pleasant stay in this beautiful place. There's a last piece of advice I'd like to share with you, which applies not only to Rishikesh but to other parts of India too.
Here it is: if you see that an eatery attracts a large amount of people, you can be quite certain that you won’t get food poisoning there, as the food turnover is quick. It's not an absolutely sure way to assure that the food is prepared hygienically and is fresh, but it more likely is than isn't.
Please don’t go to empty cafes, no matter how well the décor looks. Some worst-looking eateries of India can actually serve the best food; so the appearance can truly deceive when it comes to the places to eat in India.
If you happen to visit the places that I’ve mentioned and would like to express your opinion on them, please do so in the comments’ section below. Also, please comment if you have further tips to share about eating out in Rishikesh or India in general.