The Joynt

When visiting any foreign capital, it's always fun to visit local hangouts and see ordinary life play out beyond the choreography of cultural monuments and religious sites and hotel restaurants. The Joynt in Thimphu is such a place. Easy to find opposite the west entrance to Changlimithang National Stadium, this standout has good, inexpensive Thai and Indian food, a big open-air patio out front, and friendly young regulars who are welcoming to foreigners of all ages.

The good eats come courtesy of two trained chefs: a Bhutanese who studied under a celebrated Thai at the Fortune Hotel in Bangkok, and an Indian native who aces traditional dishes but likes to experiment. Try their spicy green papaya salad, Tom Yum soup, prawn fried rice, chicken biryani, and thali. The crispy fried chicken is a crowd favorite too. Veg options are available.

Or come by for ginseng coffee made with fresh beans and tea made with cordyceps (aka Himalayan Viagra). Enjoy a drink with locals around the wooden patio tables; the bar stocks domestic drinks like Druk 11000 beer, Special Courier whisky, and Zumzin peach wine, and foreign ones like Smirnoff vodka and Chang beer from Thailand. On game days for Bhutan's national football team, The Joynt hosts a barbeque and hauls a big screen outside to project the event live. (They also sell the national team jerseys.)

Inside the glass walls, a huge flatscreen TV plays the latest videos and a heated floor keeps the place cozy in winter. There's live music some weekend nights, and a secluded room in the back that has another TV with cable and lots of computer games. The Joynt has something for everybody, and everybody is welcome. Open 10:30 am to 10:00 pm, closed Mondays.