Eating Out in Pakistan
“I love food” is an old expression that has seen greater usage in modern times. One hears it said and written so often that the three words “I love food” seem to have become a fashion phrase. People in Pakistan are a true embodiment of the phrase “I love food”. For most Pakistanis food is an essential subject matter of their way of life, social interactions, festivals, celebrations, and even end of life ceremonies and rituals. No business, social, official, non-official, private and public or religious meeting or occasion is considered complete without the involvement of food in some shape or form. Food here is a passion, a way of expressing affection, a measure of someone’s hospitality, a small talk subject in daily life and a popular business activity. With this background information it should not be hard to understand why there are so many food places, restaurants, cafeterias, tea houses, food carts, food stalls, and food and grocery stores everywhere in Pakistan.
If you are visiting Pakistan for a short span of time eating out would perhaps be the first on your list of food options. Here on this page we have listed some of the global and Pakistani fast food chains that operate multiple stores in Pakistan. Besides we have produced a list of popular Pakistani restaurants in different cities. The list will be regularly updated to keep it current. To get some hints and tips on alternative options like self cooking, ordering online and buying ready to cook or ready to eat food please visit our page Alternate Options.
Some of the well known local and international fast food chains that operate multiple stores in Pakistan have been listed below. To find more details about these restaurants and locations near you, you may click their links to visit their websites.
Below we have produced a list and brief overview of some of the popular restaurants in various cities of Pakistan. The listing is not in any order and we do not specifically recommend any restaurant over the others. You may carryout your own research by visiting their websites or calling a restaurant before making your choice.
Islamabad being the capital city has a vast collection of restaurants serving variety of food suitable to different tastes and budgets. Many of these restaurants offer fine dining as well as take-away facilities.
Located in the picturesque Margala Hills in the near vicinity of Islamabad, Monal is one of the most popular restaurants in Islamabad-Rawalpindi Urban Area. The restaurant provides fine dining facility from its seating areas locate at vintage points from where you can have spectacular view of Islamabad City and Margala Hills. The place is usually very busy during the weekends and there may be long wait time unless you book in advance and reach on time. The restaurant serves BBQ, local cuisine, Asian food, and has vegetarian options within affordable pricing.
Located at School Road, F-6 Markaz, Islamabad Chaaye Khana is a café with an elaborate menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The prices are reasonable and the food is good. This place serves great omelets, sandwiches, burgers and soups. Coffee and tea are great here as is the informal environment.
Located at Jinnah Market, Islamabad Qishmisch offers barbeque and Pakistani cuisine. The restaurant has vegetarian options and is open for late night supper.
Located inside Islamabad Marriot Hotel on Agha Khan Road, Islamabad the restaurant offers fine dining with a vast menu from Thai and Asian cuisines. The ambiance is great and the music is good. It may, however, be kept in mind that all this comes at a price which is comparatively higher than average meal prices in Islamabad.
If you are a sushi lover or fond of Japanese food Sakura is your best choice. Located inside Islamabad Marriot Hotel the restaurant offers fine dining and a variety of sushi and Japanese dishes. The restaurant is wheel chair accessible and the overall environment is great. The prices are of course higher than the average meal prices in the city.
If you are fond of Chinese food then Mei Kong is the choicest place for you. The food here is great and the prices are affordable. The overall environment and ambiance is good.
For those into steaks and oven roasted meats, Texas Steak House located in Sadar Bazaar Rawalpindi should figure out high on list of choices. The place makes authentic American steak with stir fried vegetables and gravies in different styles and tastes. The overall seating environment and décor is quite nice and imaginative. Their prices are reasonable.
Karachi is the port city of Pakistan and has a truly cosmopolitan culture. Karachi has a large collection of food places offering all sorts of food. Some of the major restaurants in Karachi are as follows:
Located on the rooftop of Pearl Continental Hotel at Ziauddin Ahmed Road, Karachi, Sakura is one of the finest restaurants when it comes to fine dining. The restaurant offers Sushi and Japanese foods like tempura, sashimi, and soups in an environment with beautiful view of Karachi City. The restaurant has an open kitchen style so you can see your food being actually prepared by the chefs. A must try if you happen to be in Karachi and are fond of Japanese food.
Located on 10th Commercial Zone, Zamzama, Karachi, Okra offers a wide variety of Mediterranean and European dishes in an environment with great ambiance but slightly high pitched music. The seating space is limited so you have to book in advance. The food is somewhat expensive here and servings are small. The waiting staff is smartly turned out, has great attitude and are usually alert to diner’s needs.
Located in Block 4 Clifton, Karachi, Café Aylanto is a high end restaurant with continental dishes prepared and presented nicely by their chefs and well trained and courteous staff. The restaurant has been furnished in a modern theme and then overall ambiance is visually appealing with comfortable seating. The food here is pricey rather expensive.
Located in the area of Clifton Boat Basin, Karachi, BBQ Tonight is the best choice for Pakistani cuisine, and barbecued meats, mutton chops and lamb ribs. Their prices are reasonable, service is fast and the food is great and always served fresh by highly trained waiters who their job and are very courteous.
Lahore truly is the city of restaurants and food joints. Lahore has the highest ration of food places per capita than any other city in Pakistan and that’s what makes Lahore a favorite city with foodies. It’s hard to give a complete run down of restaurants in Lahore in a small article like this. Here we make a brief mention of some of the most favorite restaurants of Lahore.
Located inside Lahore City’s popular food street inside the walled city, Haveli is one of the best choices for Pakistani cuisine, barbecue and spicy delicacies. Seating is located on top two floors of a freshly renovated 18th century building. You can have a beautiful view of Badshahi Mosque and surrounding city from the rooftop of Haveli. The food is great and reasonably priced. So if you are looking for quality Pakistani food in a great environment Haveli should be on the list of your choices.
Located in the famous M.M. Alam Road business district of Lahore, Café Zouk is very popular amongst diners in Lahore. Café Zouk offers elaborate menu items spanning Thai, Asian and Italian dishes in an environment that though little tightly packed has great ambiance and is welcoming at once. The music is little loud but selection is usually nice. Their staff is well trained, courteous and attentive. Their prices are bit high especially considering that their servings are small sized.
With multiple branches located all over Lahore, Bundu Khan is a popular choice for hotel goers in Lahore for Pakistani cuisine especially curries, barbeque and ‘parathas. Their prices are highly affordable and staff is very courteous and usually attentive to your needs. In busy hours the wait time between ordering and food being actually served may be little irritating. Bundu Khan should be high on your list of priority for spicy food.
Peshawar is famous for mutton BBQ and grilled meats, mouthwatering chapli kababs. Some of the traditional teahouses located in and around Peshawar Qissa Khawani Bazaar are also very popular. Some of the popular restaurants in Peshawar are as follows:
Located close to Namak Mandi, Peshawar Charasi Tikka Shop is one of the oldest and reputed BBQ joint in Peshawar. The place is popular for lamb BBQ, grilled lamb meat, lamb chops, and karahi in addition to freshly baked bread and Peshawari Tea. The usual wait time between ordering and food being served on the table is approximately one hour. The wait would, however, be worth it as the food they serve is authentic, original and fresh.
Located inside the famous Pearl Continental Hotel Peshawar, Tai Pan serves Thai and Asian food in a fine dining environment that has been set in an elegant and spacious style. The food is great and the staff is well trained and courteous. The low decibel background music flushes well with the overall ambiance and décor.
Quetta is famous for lamb sajji cooked over open style coal fire and smoke. Sajji is the signature dish of Baluchistan Province of Pakistan and is very popular all over Pakistan. But the best sajji is made in Quetta which is obviously understandable as sajji originated from Baluchistan. Besides, there are a number of restaurants in Quetta catering to different tastes and budgets.
Lehri Sajji House located in town center Quetta is most famous in Baluchistan for its lamb sajji. So if you happen to be in Quetta and like to try sajji, Lehri Sajji House is the place to go. The food here is bit pricey but served fresh.
If you are the type who likes continental food or would like to try Italian food in Quetta, Saigon is the way to go. Located in Shahbaz Town, Phase 3, the place is small and there are parking issues during busy hours. However, food is served fresh and overall ambiance is appealing. Booking in advance may be good to avoid wait time in busy hours of lunch and dinner.