Uncovering ExpatOwned Restaurants in Thimphu Bhutan

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Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, may be a hidden gem in the world of travel, but its culinary scene is booming with flavors and nuances unlike any other. Many expatriates have set foot here, bringing with them their rich culinary heritage and turning Thimphu into a culinary mecca beyond the tourist attractions. From cozy cafes to hidden gems, the expat-owned restaurants in Thimphu are changing the game, providing expats with authentic flavors and fostering a sense of community in their new environment.

Exploring Hidden Culinary Treasures

Finding the best place to dine is a tricky task when in a new place. But, as a seasoned expat or a curious traveler, it's worth exploring beyond the tourist zone to discover the hidden culinary treasures in Thimphu. Here, we present a virtual culinary tour of some of the most underrated and off-the-beaten-path places run by expats.

The Garden Room Cafe

Nestled in a quiet corner of Thimphu, The Garden Room Cafe serves up an eclectic assortment of flavors from around the world. Run by a group of expats, this cafe offers an intimate setting, where the food is as inviting as the company. Chef Miguel, a native of Mexico, infuses his Mexican heritage into the menu with dishes that span from traditional chili con carne to Mexican-Mediterranean fusion fare.

Bananarama Cafe

Located in the quaint neighborhood of Pangboche, Bananarama Cafe is a popular spot among expats craving a taste of home. Run by an Australian couple, this cozy cafe serves up an array of Australian, Mediterranean, and Thai dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. Try the Australian meat pies, the Thai green curry, or the Mediterranean mezze plate - a perfect fusion of flavors.

The Happy Burger

If you're on the lookout for a burger joint to indulge in during your stay in Thimphu, The Happy Burger is a must-visit. Run by a group of American and Canadian expats, this burger joint adds a touch of familiarity to the local cuisine. The burgers are made with locally sourced, organic ingredients and come in a variety of flavors, from classic cheeseburger to spicy BBQ burgers.

Pho Vietnam

Pho Vietnam, run by a Vietnamese expat, offers an authentic taste of Vietnam. From beef pho to vegetarian spring rolls, Pho Vietnam's menu is packed with traditional and delicious Vietnamese dishes. The cozy interiors and intimate setting make it an ideal spot to unwind and savor the flavors of Asia.

The Good Life Cafe

Located in the heart of Thimphu, The Good Life Cafe is a popular spot among expats and locals alike. Run by a group of French and Bhutanese expats, this cafe offers an eclectic mix of European and Bhutanese dishes. Try the Bhutanese red rice with curry, or the French-style croissant, both equally delicious and a true reflection of the fusion of cultures that defines Thimphu's culinary landscape.

Insights and Experiences

Stories from expats who have discovered and frequented these hidden culinary treasures further highlight the significance of these restaurants in their new surroundings. Expats often struggle to find a place to call home - a place where they can connect with others and celebrate their culinary heritage. In Thimphu, these expat-owned restaurants provide just that - a sense of community and cultural exchange that transcends beyond food to form meaningful connections.

Cultural Exchange at Bananarama Cafe

"When I walked into Bananarama Cafe, I was further confused and maybe a bit apprehensive because they had both Thai dishes and Australian dishes," shared Chilly from Australia. "But I tried the Thai green curry, and I was blown away. The chef, a Thai national, explains the spices used and the history behind them, teaching us a little about Thai culture through the food."

Fusion of Flavors at The Good Life Cafe

"The Good Life Cafe was a welcome surprise - a perfect fusion of French and Bhutanese dishes," shared Fab, a French expat. "I had never seen something like this before. It's awesome how they combine the best of both worlds to create something unique and delicious. I'm a regular here now, and it's not just about the food; it's about the vibrant community that forms in such close-knit spaces."

Community Building at Garden Room Cafe

"The Garden Room Cafe feels like a second home to me," shared Ana, a Colombian expat. "It's cozy, intimate, and I have formed long-lasting friendships here. Chef Miguel, a native of Mexico, often invites us to participate in cooking classes to learn more about Mexican cuisine, and it's been a wonderful way to connect with other expats through the language we all speak best - food!"

From Appetizers to Desserts

Expat-owned restaurants in Thimphu offer a unique culinary experience characterized by authentic flavors, innovative fusion creations, and an acute attention to detail. From appetizers to desserts, each establishment offers a delicious and delightful dining experience. Here are some recommendations:


Try the Mexican queso dip at The Garden Room Cafe, or the Vietnamese fresh summer rolls at Pho Vietnam. If you're in the mood for something unique, head to Bananarama Cafe for the Bombay Masala Fries - an Indian-Mediterranean fusion dish that's gotta be tasted to be believed!


For meat lovers, head to The Happy Burger for their mouth-watering beef burgers or the chicken burger at Pho Vietnam, which comes with a refreshing salad on the side.

Vegan Delights

Vegetarian and vegan options are aplenty in Thimphu's expat-owned restaurants. Try The Garden Room Cafe's quinoa and veggie salad, or the vegan mushroom burger at The Happy Burger. Bananarama Cafe offers a vegan lentil soup that's super comforting.


For those with a sweet tooth, Bananarama Cafe's chocolate brownie with ice cream is a must-try. The Good Life Cafe shares a passion for traditional French pastries, and you can't miss their croissants or the famous macarons.

Join the Culinary Conversation

Thimphu's expat-owned restaurants offer much more than just an excellent array of food. They offer a window into their respective cultures, a chance to experience culinary fusion, and a chance to connect with other expats. Join the culinary conversation by sharing your favorite hidden restaurants and memorable dining experiences in Thimphu. Let's celebrate the unique flavors and cultural exchange that define the expat dining scene in Thimphu.