Often called ‘Scotland of the East’ Shillong has earned its moniker because of its close proximity to the Jantia and Khasi hills of Meghalaya. Founded by the British in the second half of the 19th century, this hill station was known for its quaint neighborhoods, cool weather, and abundant greenery. While all that still holds true, modern-day Shillong has evolved into a fashionable city with a keen interest in music and a unique café culture. As the cool kids would say—Shillong is a vibe!
There are plenty of cafes that have mushroomed all over the city and most of them are popular spots for local bands to perform. If you’re in Shillong, then café hopping ismust!And if you can’t decide where to go, then start with any of these five cafes.
1. Dylan’s Café
When you ask any local where to grab a bite to eat, the first recommendation is always Dylan’s Café. This quirky café is dedicated to the legendary singer Bob Dylan and in case you forget—the artwork hanging from the walls and the graffiti on the ceiling dedicated to Dylan will remind you. There is lots to choose from on their menu—hearty burgers, cheesy pasta, and other nibbles. Weekends are reserved for gigs so chances are you’ll catch a band playing here on Friday or Saturday night.
Address: Tripura Castle Rd, Dhankheti, Malki, Shillong, Meghalaya
2. Open Up Café
What was possibly someone’s house has been turned into an adorable comic-themed café with bright red walls and funny posters framed and hung all over. It’s also home to some of the best café-style food in the city. Think chunky burgers, hot dogs, greasy but delicious chicken wings, and some fabulous fish and chips (that was my personal favourite) among many others. It’s a quiet spot since it’s tucked away off the main street and a local favourite for families dining out. If you enjoy eating pork, this is the place for you. Pork sausages, pork noodles, and pork burgers are excellent recommendations for you to try out here.
Address: Mawlai, Mawroh, Pdengshnong, Meghalaya
3. Café Shillong
Not to be confused with Café Shillong Heritage, which is also quite lovely—though a tad bit more upscale since it’s located in the Royal Heritage Tripura Castle hotel. This Café Shillong is more cosy, relaxed, and casual. It’s another great venue for musical performances and some of the most popular bands across Meghalaya perform here. It’s one of the oldest joints in the city and still frequented by locals so don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table for dinner. The food, like most cafes in the city, is a mix of continental, American, and Asian dishes including local favourites like Chinese noodles, pasta, and burgers. However, the hostellers here are their chicken and pork momos.
Address: Don Bosco, Nongkynrih, Laitumkhrah, Shillong, Meghalaya
4. ML05 Café
It’s not often that you walk into an eatery to find a motorcycle, held up by chains, hanging from the ceiling. Of course, it’s an Insta-worthy photo op that visitors can’t seem to resist. The folks at ML05 call it a concept café with car and bike memorabilia everywhere and the walls painted with license plates to remind you of the theme—as if the Royal Enfield suspended from the ceiling wasn’t enough. All of this adds to its garage vibe and casual laid back charm. Located on the outskirts of Shillong, en route to Cherrapunji, the café has lots of pizza options to choose from, along with the staple Indo-Chinese dishes; but it’s also one of the few places that has a breakfast menu. The ML 05 special Maggi and Shillong fried rice are popular orders.
Address: AH 1, Near Eastern Air Command, Mawsynram-Shillong Rd, Shillong, Meghalaya
5. Bread Café
Located in the heart of the city, the buzzing bustling Police Bazaar, Bread Café is a dessert lovers' haven. If you’re in the mood for some delectable cheesecake or chocolate cake then look no further. Bread café is an old Shillong gem and has probably made half the city’s birthday cakes at some time or the other. Apart from their breads, rolls, patties, and desserts—there’s also a savoury menu featuring wraps, rolls, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, and all sorts of carbs to curb any cravings. The obvious choice here is a sweet treat but the "Fries From Around The World”—cheesy fries or chicken steak fries—are worth the indulgence.
Address: Main Road, opp. Post Office, Nongkynrih, Laitumkhrah, Shillong, Meghalaya
Travelling to Shillong