Someone once said, “Manali nights are colder to the body and warmer to the soul!” and truer words have never been spoken. Nestled in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, Manali is a quaint little resort town. Popular for its natural landscapes and unmatched beauty, Manali witnesses heavy footfall throughout the year. If you go the touristy way, there’s a lot that pretty much everyone does when in Manali. But what fun is there without good food and great vibes?!
Amidst the breathtaking vistas sits a hidden gem called Old Manali. Just like a well-kept secret, Old Manali is stashed in the mountains, 10-15 minutes of walk away (depending on your enthusiasm to walk uphill) from New Manali. What do you do when you love mountains and you love food? You go to Old Manali. Home to some of the top cafes in Manali, Old Manali has become the go-to place for those who love to treat their taste-buds.
A treat to the eyes and feast for the palette, Old Manali has cafes with not only ambrosial food and drink menus but a certain rustic charm to them that keep you wanting to come back for more. If you are more than just a tourist, if travelling and food are your second nature, then here are some Old Manali cafes that will redefine your experience of Manali altogether: –
1. Sunshine Café
As the youths say, this is a “chill place!” With very basic interiors, this place can be a perfect choice for people looking to have a relaxing time with their friends. There will be plenty of cafes in Manali where you will find fancy seating arrangements, great décor and plush cutlery, but Old Manali and its cafes aren’t for the elegant; it is for the backpackers, the messy eaters. When in Sunshine Café, do order their Sunshine Chicken Burger, English breakfast, and hot chocolate.
2. The Johnson’s Café
One of the best cafes in Old Manali, The Johnson’s Café is for people looking for great ambience and great food. This Insta-worthy café serves food fresh and has classy wooden interiors. What more could one ask for?! Al Fresco Dining! Yes, the place also has Al Fresco dining which makes this place one of the favourite cafes in Old Manali. A fabulous eatery during a couple’s trip to Manali, The Johnson’s Café has a picture-perfect setting. Next time you are café-hopping in Old Manali, do try out The Johnson’s Café.
3. il Forno
Are cabin in the woods supposed to look so alluring?! Defining cosy on a whole new level altogether, il Forno is all about ambience. A cute little Italian café with very warm staff to serve food, this place is a surreal mix of old and new. The best part is that it is not the most famous café in Manali, which makes it a peaceful and perfect hangout spot for people looking to enjoy good food and beauty of nature. Some like it quiet, and il Forno is for those few!
4. The Lazy Dog
Old Manali ups the game with The Lazy Dog. The name is atypical and so will be your experience here. There are many cafes in Manali, but The Lazy Dog has outdone it with a wide variety of dishes on its menu and its brilliant décor. From psychedelic wall art to its unique fusion of abstract and natural interiors, The Lazy Dog is one of Manali’s best cafes. PS. The seafood here is a must-try!
If you are all about that rustic charm and good food, Dylan’s is for you. Known as the best café in Manali, Dylan’s is a small place with nothing much fancy but everything “feelsy”. It is pretty evident that this café wasn’t built to soothe the eyes but the travelling souls. A medley of graffiti art and frescos, sketches on the walls, cosy sofas and plenty of nostalgia waits for you at Dylan’s. When you go to Dylan’s, do try their chocolate chip cookies. You can thank us later!
6. Backstreet Café
Show me the meaning of being lonely! Seemed to have gotten its name from the famous boyband, Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Café is one of the cafes in Old Manali that knows what people climbing up Old Manali are looking for. The café, not-so-surprisingly, is quiet, with perfect choices of music playing in the background.
Rendez-Vous is all about good food and great music. With live music and perfectly cooked food, this place is a perfect amalgamation of simple and unique. Sitting cosily amidst nature, Rendez-Vous is more than just a rendezvous point. Their food is flavourful, the interiors are chic, and music sets the mood just right. Rendez-Vous is perhaps one of the very few cafes in Manali that is frequented by families, couples and backpackers, all alike.
Gorgeous meadows and snow capped peaks start feeling a lot wholesome when there’s good food. You cannot just go to Manali, shop at Mall Road, visit Solang Valley and Rohtang Pass and come back. You need to walk uphill, persist for a while, and when you are able to breathe a little deeper, see a little clearer, you will be in Old Manali. So, what are you waiting for? Book Manali travel packages today!