There is a fair choice of restaurants in Paro and Thimphu but most tourists eat in their hotels where hygiene is good and chefs temper the spicy Bhutanese dishes to suit Western tastes. Rice is the staple (sometimes flavoured with saffron or of the red variety) apart from in central Bhutan where the altitude makes rice cultivation difficult. Buckwheat is more common here. The country is replete with apple orchards, rice paddies and asparagus, which grows freely in the countryside and there are over 400 varieties of mushroom including orchid mushrooms.
Meals are often buffet-style and mostly vegetarian. Meat and fish are now imported from nearby India, and Nepali Hindus living in Bhutan are licensed to slaughter animals.
Do note that most restaurants, including those in hotels, in Thimphu stop serving food between 9 pm and 9:30 pm.
For traditional Bhutanese cuisine, head to Bhutan Kitchen. Located above the Benez restaurant, this restaurant tries to give you a real authentic and traditional Bhutanese food experience, with traditional music and uncompromisingly Bhutanese food. Jikss Trokhang (5th floor, S.D. Plaza, Norzin Lam) is a cool place to chill out, which serves both Indian and Bhutanese dishes. Main dining hall offers a relaxing and cosy environment, while the bar-cum-café (across the hall) offers live music.
For Thai cuisine, Baan Thai Restaurant (top floor, Karma Place) serves authentic Thai food in the heart of Thimphu. Chopstick is a small restaurant specialising in Chinese dishes, which is located on the 2nd floor, Centre Mall, Norzin Lam.
MK Restaurant (Centrepoint Shopping Centre) is popular with Japanese and serves Japanese, Bhutanese and Indian dishes. Although sometimes it takes awhile for the food to arrive at the table, but for the price, this is the best restaurant in town.
There are a few places that serve Western cuisine. The Seasons Restaurant Pizzeria (Namsay Shopping Complex, Phenday Lam) is one of the few places in town that serves authentic pizza and Italian salads. Pizzeria also offers a good selection of filter coffees and has an outdoor patio. Druk Pizza (behind Bhutan Observer Building, at the top end of Norzin Lam) serves good quality pizzas on Italian style base with Bhutanese toppings plus a small selection of milk shakes and hot beverages.
Swiss Bakery, on Chorten Lam (above the main traffic roundabout), sells tasty sandwiches, pies, omelets, jelly doughnuts and excellent potato chips, among other baked goods and lunch treats. If you want a Swiss roll, the ones here are the best in town.