“When people come to Sherpa House, they shouldn’t feel like they are walking into a restaurant; they should feel like entering my home, ”says Lhakpa Sherpa, founder and owner of Sherpa House Restaurant and Cultural Center Golden. When Lhakpa and his wife Dickey opened the restaurant in 2009, they designed the space to represent the layout of a traditional Sherpa house in the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal, nestled in the Himalayas at an elevation above 14,000 feet. (Fun fact: “Sherpa”Is a surname used in Nepal, India and Tibet and refers to an individual’s origins.)
Enter the main dining room and you are greeted by a crackling fire lightly surrounded by rows of shiny copper mugs, seasoned casseroles, and rustic wooden cooking utensils, all brought from Lhakpa’s house in Nepal. Look in the library and you will find tomes on high altitude mountaineering mixed with traditional Nepalese tales like Pema and the Yak and tons of other themed backdrops, including statues, flags, and even a painted Everest-shaped rock with paths leading to the top. Around the corner is a shrine room, an area in every traditional Sherpa house that is reserved for morning offerings and house cleaning and incense burning rituals.
What you won’t find on the walls? televisions. Instead, Lhakpa filled the walls of the newly added bar with murals showcasing scenes from his childhood garden. “This is what I see from my room when I get home,” he said, pointing to a depiction of yaks grazing under towering snow-capped peaks.
There have long been links between the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Solu-Khumbu, Himalayan region of the Sherpas, and this is the reason Sherpa House landed in Golden over 10 years ago. . Since the first summit of Chomolungma (the Tibetan name for Everest) in 1953, the Sherpas have been sharing their expertise with Western climbers to help them achieve their goals of extreme mountaineering. While leading hikes and climbs in Nepal shortly after high school, Lhakpa met a Colorado couple celebrating their honeymoon in the Himalayas. The trio quickly hit it off, and the couple invited Lhakpa to visit their home in Golden the following summer. During this visit, he fell in love with Centennial State and returned the following year to attend Red Rocks Community College and Metro State University. He met Dickey at a Sherpa New Years celebration in 2006, and they’ve both called Golden home ever since. “Golden is my village now,” says Lhakpa, who was born in the Solu-Khumbu region.
Colorado’s ties to the high mountains of Nepal have inspired many Sherpas like Lhakpa to make Golden their home base. In fact, many of the restaurant staff are guides and make the return trip to Mt. Everest during peak spring climbing season. “A lot of Sherpas come here to meet Westerners with whom they will climb. Then they find the Sherpa House and decide they want to come back to work here, ”Lhakpa explains. “I think between our staff of 22 Sherpas, we did 45 summits in total.” Lhakpa himself completed two peaks of Mount Everest.
While the cultural features of Sherpa House are a bonus, the food alone is worth a visit. “In addition to salt, all of our spices are imported from Nepal and India,” says Dickey, who put together the restaurant’s menu to bring traditional flavors and dishes from Nepalese cuisine to the Front Range. The creamy sauce coating the chicken tikka masala is best enjoyed with a puffed cloud-like slice of garlic naan, accompanied by a hot cup of creamy and slightly spicy chai tea. Or try the hearty yak stew, made from a traditional recipe passed down through many generations of Sherpas.
Lhakpa and Dickey settled in Colorado, but they continue to support their roots. In 2011 they started Walk for help, a nonprofit organization that brings volunteers from the United States to Nepal for small-scale service work. Tasks include the construction of trails, schools and public toilets, efforts that have a significant impact on local communities. The organization is partnering with the Colorado School of Mines to offer credited study abroad programs in Nepal, all led by Lhakpa. “We started doing trips with the students at Colorado School of Mines, and they came back saying, ‘Wow, that really changed my outlook on life,’ Lhakpa says. most meaningful thing in my life. It’s not just about you, it’s about other people. And the people here, they really want to help; they want to make the world a better place.
While a visit to Sherpa House has inspired many guests to plan an adventure in the Himalayas, Lhakpa says, it also provides a place of belonging for Lhakpa and Dickey.
“It is our spiritual place where we have our possessions,” says Lhakpa. “These things came from our grandparents, and they say something about us, the Sherpa people, so we need to be dedicated to preserving our culture and our food and sharing it with our visitors.”
The Sherpa House Restaurant and Cultural Center is open daily for lunch, 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner, Monday to Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
To support the Sherpa House nonprofit, visit hikingforhelp.org.