Nick’s Italian Kitchen … Fair Pizza, Disappointing Cheesecake, Decent Value and GREAT COMPANY!


Nick’s Italian Kitchen
Bhagsu Road
McLeod Ganj, Himachel Pradesh, India

Cuisine: Italian, Tibetan, Chinese

Price: $$$$$

I stumbled upon Nick’s my first night in McLeod Ganj. The restaurant is situated in the Kunga Guest House less than 100 meters from the main square (going east) and has a large terrace overlooking the valley below with views of the Himalayan foothills.


I saw a young woman with a pizza that looked pretty darn good, so I ordered the vegetarian combo (bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, etc – 175 rupee – $2.85), a diet coke (40 rupee – 65 cents), and a liter of bottled water (25 rupee – 40 cents). Their desserts looked tempting and are apparently a specialty, so I completed my meal with a piece of lemon cheesecake.

The pizza crust was very good, not too thick, not too thin, crispy not burnt, but it became a little soggy (not too bad) from the liquid of one or more ingredients. The flavor of the pizza was bland and did not taste Italian, missing oregano and/or basil with an added spice I could not put my finger (or tongue for that matter) on. It was filling and tasted “OK”, but was disappointing after having looked so tempting.

The lemon cheesecake, although well done, did not taste like any cheesecake I have ever had in the US. It was thin and also somewhat bland, with little lemon taste or cheesiness. It was also “OK”, but not something I would order again as I am a cheesecake lover.

The highlight of the evening was Bargdo, a Buddhist monk from Tibet I was fortunate enough to have dinner with on this, my first evening in Dharamsala. He had been imprisoned by the Chinese in 1988 for protesting in Lhasa in favor of the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet and tortured for 4 years before the Dalai Lama arranged (paid the Chinese) for his release. 

Bargdo has not seen his family in close to 25 years and has only spoken to them twice in that time, not being allowed to phone, write, or otherwise communicate with his parents, siblings, and extended family still in Chinese controlled Tibet.

He has written 14 books and traveled the world speaking on the Tibetan dilemma, having met heads of state and countless celebrities. He is an extremely happy and jovial person, considering his extremely difficult experiences, and was a delight to spend the evening with.

Bargdo aside …


CombatCritic Gives Nick’s Italian Kitchen 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!







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Four Seasons Cafe (McLeod Ganj, India): little place … BIG VALUE!


Four Seasons Cafe 
Jogiwara Road
McLeod Ganj, India

Cuisine: Tibetan, Italian

Price: $$$$$

I was actually walking to another restaurant I found on TripAdvisor when I came across Four Seasons Cafe. It is a small, unassuming place on Jogiwara Road on the opposite end of the market from the main square (closer to the Dalai Lama Temple). There are only about seven tables and the walls and floors are wood, giving the dining area a rich, warm, inviting feel. I quickly looked them up on my TripAdvisor App and saw they were ranked number 12 out of 43 with 4 1/2 stars, so I went in.


Momos in Soup

The menu has many options including Tibetan and Italian, and the prices are very, very reasonable. I ordered a Tibetan herbal tea (30 rupee – 50 cents) and the vegetable and cheese momos in soup (80 rupee – $1.30), a large bowl of broth with sliced cabbage and carrot topped with six large momos (a Tibetan dumpling filled with cheese and veggies). It was delicious and filling! I was pretty hungry, so I also ordered an egg fried rice (also 80 rupee). It was not as massive as a similar dish back stateside, but was more than enough for me and also extremely good.


Fried Rice
My tab came to a whopping 190 rupee ($3.10) for an excellent, filling meal in a comfortable and friendly environment. The staff speak decent English and are efficient, warm, and spontaneous, making me feel most welcome.

On my next visit, I tried the pasta, ordering the penne “Quatro Fromaggi” (formaggio in Italian – 170 Rupees/$2.75) and garlic bread (40 Rupees – 65 cents). The pasta was perfectly “al dente” and the sauce cheesy and gooey. It was good enough, but lacking an “Italian” flavor, needing some oregano, parsley, or basil and definitely more parmigiano (parmesan for Americans) due to the noticeable absence of salt. I ended up adding salt and freshly cracked pepper to give the dish some added flavor. The garlic bread was perfectly toasted, crispy, and well seasoned.

Chicken Soutsemen

Having become somewhat of a regular, my next adventure was Chicken Soutsemen (120 Rupees – $1.95), crispy, pan fried noodles covered in a gravy-like sauce chock full of vegetables and small chunks of chicken. It was savory, tasty, and very filling.

CombatCritic Gives Four Seasons Cafe 9 Out of 10 Bombs (Based on VALUE) … MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!




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Bargdo: A Buddhist Monk Fighting For A Free Tibet


Bargdo (pronounced Pakto) is a Buddhist monk from Tibet I was fortunate enough to have dinner with on my first evening in Dharamsala. He was imprisoned by the Chinese in 1988 for protesting in Lhasa in favor of the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet and tortured for 4 years before the Dalai Lama arranged (paid the Chinese) for his release. 


Bargdo has not seen his family in close to 25 years and has only spoken to them twice in that time, not being allowed to phone, write, or otherwise communicate with his parents, siblings, and extended family still in Chinese controlled Tibet.

He has written 14 books and traveled the world speaking on the Tibetan dilemma, having met heads of state and countless celebrities. He is an extremely happy and jovial person, considering his extremely difficult experiences, and was a delight to spend the evening with.

Dalai Lama … Here I Come: My Journey To Enlightenment


My journey began with a two hour flight delay in Kansas City, so I had to scramble to get a seat that would get me to Frankfurt in time to catch my connection to Delhi the next day. The United Airlines gate agents worked quickly and professionally and before I knew it, I was booked through Washington DC, arriving in Frankfurt three hours before my original departure time. Frankfurt being Frankfurt, that should have been enough time to make my connection.

I am staying in Delhi for four nights (three really because I arrive at the hotel around 2:30 AM (0230 hours), taking a flight to Dharamsala on November 1st for the beginning of my Journey to Enlightenment. I hope to get a feel for New Delhi (and Old Delhi) while there as we will be returning in a couple of months to to the “tourist” thing.

Once in Dharamsala, I will be volunteering with the Tibetan refugees teaching English, studying Buddhism and yoga, and working on forgiveness, a skill I have yet to acquire in close to six decades on this lonely planet.

I will be sharing my Journey to Enlightenment here on my blog, including stories, video, and photos, as well as my YouTube channel, CombatCritic TV. Please feel free to follow me on my journey where I hope to educate, inspire, and document the trip of a lifetime. FOLLOW ME to TravelValueTM.

Key Words: Dalai Lama, dalai, lama, India, Delhi, New Delhi, Dharamsala, Dharmsala, yoga, meditation, Buddhism, enlightenment, journey, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, guide, review