If you're looking to relax and unwind after a hard day's trek along the vertical slopes round Darjeeling, then don't come here. Hasty Tasty is frenetic, hectic and loud. Packed from the minute it opens (9.30am) till it closes (around 8pm) this strictly vegetarian cafeteria delivers exactly what it promises, fast and delicious food.
Choose from the vast menu displayed above the long counter, pay (around a quid) for your meal, grab a piece of paper with a number scribbled on it, and see if you can bag a table by the window. As you wait for the waiter to call your number - and if it's a clear day - you can gaze at Kanchenjunga, India's highest mountain, the third highest peak in the world. If you've had enough of mountains (is that possible?) I recommend some simple people watching: a cavalcade of characters swiftly passes through, mainly very cold-looking domestic Indian tourists in idiosyncratic get-ups (the women in be-jewelled, kitten heeled sandals, the men in extravagant bobble hats and tight gilets).
We ate here several times, and a typical meal would include two enormous bowls of (veg) chow mein and two lassis for 120INR (around £1.50).
The kitchen is behind the counter, so you can watch all the food being prepared and cooked in front of you. It doesn't get much fresher.
Opening hours: 09:30 to 20:00
13, Nehru Road, Darjeeling
Google map: bit.ly/xbCQ9e
This cosy restaurant with a clear and varied menu serves up delicious Tibetan and Chinese food.
I went for the Thenthuk veg soup with flat noodles for 65 Rs (95p) and fried vegetable momos (Chinese dumplings), which were the nicest I'd had anywhere. The soup was warming and extremely satisfying - ideal if you're finding Darjeeling a little chilly.
Other options are Bhagthuk soup, which as far as I can tell is the same as Thenthuk but with round noodles, spring rolls, plus lots of other noodle dishes like chop suey and chow mein.
The fresh mango juice I had was mouth-wateringly tasty.
Kunga also does breakfasts, including Tibetan bread for 60 Rs (90p) which is made with eggs and fried, resulting in a texture a bit like doughnuts but less sweet.
One curious item on the menu was 'Tibetan tea (salt and butter)' - but since I didn't order it you'll have to discover it for yourselves!
51 Gandhi Road, Darjeeling
If you are sick of the heat, dust and general aggravation that accompany travelling around India; or if this is your first trip and you fancy somewhere which is a gentle introduction to the sub-continent, then Darjeeling is the place to be.
May I reccommend Hotel Dekeling as the place to stay.
It's centrally located (10 minutes' walk from the toy train station and five minutes from Chowrasta). Clean, hot water 24/7 and run by the wonderful Mr and Mrs Norbu, who guarantee a warm family welcome.
What I particularly liked about it was:
Whilst I had booked in advance, I turned up a day early. The staff bent over backwards to sort out an alternative room for me. Whilst it was in the attic and had a shared bathroom, the price they gave me meant I could stay as twice as long as I planned.
They don't hustle you, come knocking on your door every five minutes looking for tips or try to sell you overpriced trips (which plenty of other top price hotels will do).
I wanted to go to Ghoom for the day. The staff gave me detailed instructions on how to get a shared jeep, how much I should pay , where to find the temple and how to get back to DJ again.
In all, a half day out cost me 25 pence.
There is a common area complete with books you can borrow and a stove. Great for just relaxing.
Topping it all, on the street level there is the attached cafe (Devakas) which serves delicous Tibetan food - cooked fresh in front of you.
I would suggest booking well in advance, it's pretty popular and was full during my stay.
The toy/mountain train from Siliguri to Darjeeling is surely one of the great railway journeys of the world. But, unless you're a real rail enthusiast, nine hours on an uncomfortable train, which travels at less than walking pace, is a little bit too long.
We got a jeep up the mountain from Siliguri to Darjeeling, which cost about 300 Rupees (£4) each. The share jeeps are very regular and, although they're pretty crowded, are way more comfortable than the train.
You can then take the highest altitude part of the great rail journey from Darjeeling to Ghoom, to visit the famous Ghoom monastery. It takes about 45 minutes and is probably more romantic and comfortable than doing the hard 9 hour slog from Siliguri.
Just make sure you book the train on your first day of arrival in Darjeeling. You can't book the train from anywhere else and there is a fair wait for tickets (a few days). There is plenty to do in Darjeeling in the meantime, including the Everest museum, one of the better Indian zoos, Glenary's cafe and lots of trail walking and shopping.
Don't even bother with the tourist ride unless you've money to waste, it's a complete rip-off compared to the Ghoom trip - about 10 times the price.
Nathmulls in Darjeeling has to be the best tea shop in the world. Really helpful staff and a great range of teas to test (local of course!). Well worth a visit when you're up in the mountains.
Get to Siliguri train station, then ask a cycle rickshaw to take you to where the jeeps go from. Then just climb in a jeep and wait for it to fill up.
Nathmulls is in Rink Mall, Darjeeling, next to Cafe Coffee Day.
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