CHEYENNE, Wyo. — From the outside, Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro looks like any other store front at the Cheyenne Plaza Shopping Center.
On the inside, however, the space is painted bright orange, blue and green and decorated with photos of iconic landmarks in South Asia. The aromas of garlic, ginger and onion waft around the restaurant, inviting people to sit down and try a dish.
Providing people with an intriguing, yet homely, atmosphere for trying Nepalese and Indian cuisine is what owner and Nepal native Bir Raut had in mind when he opened the bistro’s Cheyenne location in 2020.
The bistro has four Colorado locations under the same name, though they are operated separately by Raut’s friends.
The items on the menu are special to Raut because they resemble the ones he made as both a boy in Nepal and as an adult in the United States.
Charged with the task of making daily meals for his 10 siblings in Jhapa, Raut learned at a young age how to prepare and cook dozens of homemade dishes.
“My family used to say ‘You are our cook,’ and that’s how I learned my recipes, from cooking around and playing with these spices,” he said.
Raut was inspired to get into the restaurant industry after moving to San Francisco in 2012.
“After a few days of being here, I was craving my food, I did not find the food that I liked,” he said. “Then I thought, ‘I don’t want to look at any other opportunity, I want to do this [cooking and sharing food].'”
In order to gain the necessary experience, Raut worked in different Nepalese and Indian restaurants in California and later Florida. He then joined Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro in Winter’s Park, Colorado, in 2015.
As the bistro’s business started growing in the state, Raut looked for new cities it could expand to. Upon realizing that Cheyenne did not have a Nepalese or Indian restaurant, he decided to open one.
“I thought, ‘Let’s open a small business here, maybe we’ll sell authentic food for the people in town and they’ll like it,'” he said.
Nepalese food has similar spices and ingredients as those found in Indian and Chinese fare. Raut said these cuisines are often stereotyped as being too spicy and unappealing, and hopes the bistro’s diverse dishes can change those perceptions.
“I always want to tell people that this food, and Indian food, is very healthy, very fresh and not always spicy,” he said.
For new bistro customers, Raut recommends trying momos, fried or steamed Nepalese dumplings that can be filled with either meat or vegetables. Chicken or vegetable curries are also a staple dish, along with onion bhaji, sliced onions mixed with spices and coated in a fried chickpea batter. Chow mein, a stir-fried noodle dish, is also popular among Chinese food lovers.
Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro is located at 3515 E. Lincolnway and is open Tuesday–Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 9 p.m.
The full menu is available at http://durbarbistro.com/cheyenne/menu.php.