At the beginning of this year I made a list of my new favourite places to eat and drink in Dili, a year on from my first round-up list. A hilarious and frank friend told me of that later list, “I thought you were going to say some new places, but they were they same old ones I’ve been to before.”
Fair point. So, here, a week out from my Dili departure, is a list of six new favourites I’ve recently found out about, which may be new to you.
Black and Yellow Resto
A bright-and-breezy newly opened lunch cafe near Timor Aid in Bairo dos Grilhos. It’s Timorese-owned with a Portuguese-inspired menu, and I couldn’t see a vegetarian meal, but the cheerful ladies happily cooked me up a nasi goreng. I’d go back here in a minute for a $5 meltingpot lunch or for easy post-work beers.
Find it: on the intersection where the Kmanek supermarket street meets the Quilina supermarket street in Bairo dos Grilhos.
Pau de Canela
A chic Portuguese cafe you’ve likely heard of, but if you’re anything like me – bulky, brash and awkward – you felt shy entering. Bad luck to me, only trying it for the first time out a month before I leave – while its $9 daily specials are towards the upper end of my price range, the thoughtful setting, fresh, nutritious food, vegan desserts and a guaranteed vegetarian meal make it well worth a visit.
Find it: at Timor Plaza, behind Padaria Brasão.
I finally found, thanks to some Facebook lurking and the helpful post of a fellow foreigner, the place that eluded me last time around — when my frank friend said that my last list was lacklustre, I replied that I’d heard great things about a warung near my house in Farol. I had no idea where or what it was. Again, my loss. A sweet and easy, MSG-free warung lunch with two vegetables and a salad option, I’d go here for a work-from-home day lunch anytime.
Find it: in Farol, just a couple of doors down from the tais market.
When I first moved to Dili I’d see this cafe advertising its $1 espresso in the cheery tourist-y maps we AVID volunteers got given on day one. Despite working less than a kilometre away, I never managed to visit the cafe; fortunately, I’ve rectified that since it moved location to the tall, white, Rolls N Bowls building very close to my house. It’s a simple and unassuming coffee-and-cake-place with nice high tables for obnoxious folk like me to use as a standing desk.
Find it: in Colmera, in the big white waterfront building next to W4 supermarket
Another breezy, fun coffee joint; this airy new two-storey shop opposite the Vera Cruz health post is a drive-thru with stools and a view upstairs; drive thru coffee in lil Dili! It’s an eerie cross between Black and Yellow’s tri-colour decor and Black Box’s easy seating with a view; it’s also got in common with both cheery staff and a great product (don’t make the mistake of tarring its coffee with your assumptions about Australian drive-thru stuff; this coffee is good). If you work at the UN, come here for your coffee.
Find it: opposite the Vera Cruz health centre in Caicoli, round the corner from UN House
Everest Coffee House
Have you ever been at a market or fair in Dili and eaten a hot, fat, spicy, crispy-crunchy samosa from a stall? Chances are it was from Everest Coffee House; the cute little Nepalese place inside the ever-growing Pateo compound. Cheap and cheery thali at lunchtime, tasty food, and good coffee from Ermera – it’s a good, easy lunchtime choice.
Find it: just round the corner from Kaffe Uut in the Pateo compound.
Do you live in Dili? Do you have a favourite I haven’t put on any of my lists? I’d love to hear about it — trying to visit as many new-to-me places in Dili as I can before I go.