Eager to try some dal bhat for dinner, I explore the vicinity of the hotel. Most restaurants serving Nepali cuisine look devoid of locals, which can't be a good sign. Finally I spy a little Tibetan restaurant called Sherpa Cafe near Gaia Restaurant. It looks more like a shack than a cafe and the lighting is dim, but from what I can tell the patrons are Nepali men, which should be a positive indicator for good food.
I enter with a little bit of trepidation but the owner of the restaurant, an elderly lady, greets me warmly. She hands me an English menu ("No dal bhat?" I ask disappointedly. She shakes her head.) and I order thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) and a plate of vegetable momos, or dumplings.
All the other patrons in the restaurant are drinking something out of a metal cylinder. It looks fascinating, so I get one too. The guy sharing a table with me, Badri, tells me that it's called a tongba. I take a sip and wow, it tastes exactly like warm beer. "Is this alcohol?" I ask Badri. "No no, millet juice," say the guys at the next table. They seem to be very entertained by me. Also, it's alcohol. I checked later on. Haha.
The food here is great and I have a great conversation with Badri, who works at a local broadcasting station. For a country that sees so many travelers it's sad that most of its people don't have the opportunity to explore the rest of the world.