Gesmo Restaurant | A story from the rooftop of the world, Leh

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One of the most splendid, scenic and breathtakingly beautiful city, Leh is an oasis in the middle of the Ladakhi desert, in more than one ways. Always on a lookout for interesting travel destinations, this place sat pretty on top of my list.

So, when a bunch of my friends and I got down to planning for birthday celebrations (Saurabh’s 25th and Gurjas’s 30th), we decided to make it epic. And what could be more epic than celebrating on the Rooftop of The World, Ladakh.

After numerous calls, leave applications, frantic bookings, cajoling, lots of reading (health and safety manuals), we found ourselves on a flight to Leh. A bit sensitive to extreme weather, I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy for me. However, the thrill of exploring unknown places and the joy of meeting new people and of course, trying new local delicacies, blew away all skepticism or fear.

For our stay we had chosen Gangba, a homestay surrounded by scenic fields and mountains. After getting acclimatized for a while, we decided to walk to Old Fort Road, the hippest road in Leh.

While walking down the road, we found a little wonder called Gesmo, the busiest café in town. The colourful lamps, the blue windows and the wooden Bakery counter give the café a rather retro look.

Gesmo Restaurant
Gesmo Restaurant

Leh is located at an altitude of more than 11,500 feet, so you really don’t expect too much variety in terms of food. However, Gesmo turns this all into nothing, but a myth!

Ram and the other boys at the café, make the place comfortable, friendly and casual. The menu is elaborate and they serve a range of cuisines. Pizzas, Burgers, Pastas, Israeli Lafas and Salads, you ask for it and they have it. They even offer different kinds of Breakfast options and packed boxes of food, in case you are planning a trip outside Leh.

The delights of Bakery counter

I was extremely excited to try the food, as I came to know that they bake their own breads, pies etc. In case you feel like having fresh momos, Gesmo is the place to be. However, you’ll need to wait for a minimum of 30 minutes, as clearly mentioned in their menu. Along with my fellow travellers, I made two trips to the café and got to eat loads of dishes on the menu:

  • Chicken Cheese Burger
  • Yak Cheese Pizza
  • Vegetable Lafa
  • Vegetable Cheese Burger
  • Chicken Momos
  • Potato and Cheese Momos
  • Gesmo Special Salad
  • Chocolate Cake
  • Apple Crumble
  • Apricot pie
  • Cups of Coffee and Hot Chocolate.

The Chicken Cheese Burger was a clear winner. I was delighted to find the potato wedges, served alongside. The burger was flavorsome and filling. The crunchy and juicy chicken patty inside, the melted cheese and fresh veggies make this burger greasy and succulent. It should be on everyone’s wish-list.

Chicken Burger with fries

Their pizzas seemed to be quite a hit, so we decided to order for Yak Cheese Pizza. Freshly baked, this pizza had herbs, onions and cheeses. I couldn’t really decide how different the cheese tasted, nevertheless the pizza was really good.

Yak cheese Pizza
Yak cheese Pizza

Chicken Momos were juicy and tasty. The chicken filling in the momos was generous. As for Potato and Cheese Momos, I liked them, but some might find them a tad bland, as the filling is really mild. The momos, served hot and fresh, were pretty good, although I didn’t really like the sauce served with.

Chicken Momos
Chicken Momos

So, were the momos worth the wait? Well, yes and no! One won’t really find such momos in cities, so I would definitely recommend trying them. These are good but also not the best ones I’ve had.

Vegetable Lafa, an Israeli dish seemed like a permanent fixture in most cafes of Leh. Traditionally made with Pita bread, at Gesmo however, the Lafas were made with a Naan (Tandoori Bread). The roll was huge and had a generous filling, consisting of potato wedges, veggies, cream and hummus. It tasted like a cross between shawarma and a sandwich.

The mains were heavy and by the end of it, we felt pretty stuffed. Still the thought of sharing the dessert put a smile on our faces. The apples in the Apple Crumble were seasoned nicely and the crumble was baked to perfection. However there was something missing, when both ingredients were put together. Reheating the crumble took away some flavour as it made the apples a bit dry.

The Apricot Pie turned out to be the best dessert. The pastry was flaky and crunchy, while the apricot filling was sweet, juicy and well seasoned. Apricot and Apples being the local produce, the desserts had a very different taste to them. It felt great to find that almost every house in Leh had Apple and Apricot trees. How I wish we guys living in metropolitan cities had that luxury!

Apple tree
Apple tree

Gesmo, in general, has a very pleasant feel to it. One can sit by the window, gaze at people walking by and enjoy a cup of hot coffee. I was told that during peak season, it’s hard to get a table here. Well, whenever I visit Leh again, I would certainly queue up outside in the cold, for the awesome delicacies and the countless little ways in which this wonderful mountain café can warm you up.

That's me posing happily after coming back from Nubra Valley
That’s me posing happily after coming back from Nubra Valley

For more, read : Best Places to eat in Leh – Ladakh 

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