Leh's flourishing restaurants and café scenes have been surrounded by the refugee community. Tibetan food has a long list alongside including Chinese and European dishes. Tibetan specialities include momos-crescent shaped dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables, and sometimes ginger is steamed and served with hot soup and spicy sauce. Fried momos are called kothays. Thukpa, another wholesome favourite, is soup made from fresh pasta strips, meat and vegetables. These, and dozens of variations, are dished up in high-class tourist restaurants (where the meat is usually fresh); you can tuck into bigger portions of the same (for a fraction of the price) at modest, although not always hygienic, backstreet momo kitchens.
Most visitors have breakfast in their hotel or guesthouse, where the host family cook small round loaves of Ladakhi wheat-flour bread (tagi shamos), that are eaten piping hot with butter and honey or jam. For a truly authentic Leh breakfast, grab a couple of flat-breads from the clay-oven bakeries on the narrow lane at the top of the bazaar; the Tibetan restaurateurs don't mind you turning up with your own. Trekkers and cyclists will appreciate the slow energy release of tsampa (barley) porridge, which is often sweetened with honey, and makes a fantastic start to the day. Apple pie and chocolate brownie pastry shops, most of them owned by the Sikh-run German Bakery chain, are scattered all over town; pop in for filled baguettes, croissants and muesli break fasts. Beer is widely available in most of Leh's tourist restaurants while chang, a local barley brew, is harder to come by. Ask at your guesthouse if they can get some in for you. A handful of bars cater to the tourist trade, including the Ibex near the taxi stand on Fort Road