Cultural Dining in Karachi: The 10 Best Restaurants & Eateries
One of Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan cities, cultured and business-minded Karachi provides a glimpse into modern Pakistan. The city’s mix of Middle Eastern, Asian and Western influences defines its increasingly sophisticated restaurant scene. From traditional to international, here’s an updated guide to Karachi’s best cultural restaurants. Click here to read the original article.
Desi Cuisine is one of the best places in the city to try traditional Pakistani food in a simple, welcoming environment. With its open kitchen, diners can watch the chefs cooking up authentic dishes like rich nihari, perfectly spiced qorma, and meaty paya which can be served with fresh naan or taftan. The restaurant also offers an excellent selection of desserts like shahi tukra, a traditional bread pudding spiced with saffron and cardamom. Desi’s spacious, two-storey interior is decorated with colorful decor, and the air-conditioning provides relief from the heat in the hot summer months.
Widely agreed upon to be the ‘best bistro in Karachi’, Café Flo offers fine French dining in an elegant setting. Founded in the early 1990s by the daughter of a French countess, this bistro-style restaurant has since become a Karachi institution. The menu features classic continental dishes like French onion soup, crepes, foie gras, steak dijonnaise, and Lobster Thermidor, along with more creative dishes. Tucked amidst the busy streets of Karachi, the restaurant’s outdoor seating area is particularly lovely. Café Flo also offers a much-loved bunch featuring dishes like potato gratin, eggs Benedict, and Lox bagels with capers and salmon.
Lal Qila Restaurant Karachi is a buffet-style restaurant inspired by the cuisine of the Mughal Era. Consistent with the royal theme, the restaurant is designed to look like a castle, with the main seating area set outside under awnings which provide refreshing shade. Diners can also enjoy their meals indoors, where there’s a special play area for children. The buffet offers a selection of kababs, tandoori, tikka, nihari salads, and other traditional Pakistani dishes, and the food offered at the buffet is changed regularly. The restaurant also frequently hosts special events and musical performances which add to its already lively atmosphere.
Kolachi is a relatively new seaside restaurant that is quickly becoming a favorite on the city’s food scene. The menu takes advantage of the nearby Arabian Sea to create hearty seafood platters and grilled fish dishes. Aside from seafood, the menu offers a mix of Lebanese, Chinese, Pakistani, and BBQ options. And while the food is excellent, but the seaside views are the restaurant’s main draw. With wooden accents and carefully placed lighting, this restaurant is particularly atmospheric at night when the Karachi shore is illuminated.
Opened in 1999, Okra is known as one of the city’s most stylish restaurants and the best place to enjoy exceptional Mediterranean cuisine. The setting is simple and intimate, encouraging diners to take their time and savor their meals. Committed to using seasonal ingredients, Okra’s menu changes regularly with typical dishes including lamb shank with saffron risotto, and red snapper with black olive and sun-dried tomato salsa. The restaurant is also known for its excellent selection of breads, with a separate bread menu devoted to rye walnut baguettes, croissants, and olive tapenade breads.
Oishi Sushi is slowly turning Karachi locals into Japanese food fans with its excellent selection of sushi and sashimi. The restaurant uses only high-quality imported fish, which diners can watch the chefs expertly prepare at the restaurant’s sushi bar. In addition to Japanese staples like yakitori and gyoza, the menu offers a few Korean and Chinese dishes, including a Korean grill which is brought to the table. The restaurant’s decor draws inspiration from the menu, with Japanese artwork, warm wooden accents and colorful paper lanterns.
Fuchsia offers a contemporary twist on traditional Thai cuisine in an elegant setting. The restaurant’s innovative menu reflects head chef Kelvin Loke’s experience working alongside several Michelin-starred masters. The dishes are served in small tapas portions, allowing diners to share many plates; menu highlights include stir-fried squid seasoned with curry and coriander leaf, and flame-grilled, soya-marinated beef and chili dip with roasted ground rice. The restaurant’s deep crimson-colored decor reflects the rich flavors of its dishes, all of which are prepared using traditional methods including homemade sauces and pastes.
La Mamma serves some of Karachi’s best Italian cuisine, with a menu that highlights both old world and contemporary Italian flavors. The restaurant’s large buffet offers a choice of salads, pastas, pizza, fish, meat, and vegetarian options, or meals can be ordered a la carte from the menu. Try the osso bucco d’agnello, traditional lamb shank served with spaghetti aglio, or one of the made-to-order pizzas which are baked in a brick pizza oven which creates a crispy, thin crust. Located in the Sheraton Hotel, the restaurant offers seating in comfortable booths, more formal tables or at the bar.
One of Karachi’s few Chinese restaurants, China Kitchen offers an extensive menu that incorporates dishes from many different regions of China. From their signature sweet chili chicken to Cantonese-style stuffed crab claws, the restaurant’s dishes are prepared to sophisticated, fine dining standards. The setting is as elegant as the meals, with an interior decorated with Chinese murals, dark woods and Asian pottery. The set dinner menu changes every week, and all the sauces are made in-house. One of the restaurant’s owners lived in China for more than six years, and uses his experiences with the country’s diverse cuisine as inspiration for the restaurant.
Biryani of the Seas is a popular eatery that specializes in simple yet delicious seafood dishes. This laid-back roadside restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, but the best spot to eat is outside, enjoying your meal along with lively crowds of locals and watching the street traffic. The restaurant’s extensive menu changes regularly, with typical dishes including biryani, dossa, fried and BBQ seafood, and even a few international dishes like pizza and burgers. The Chinese-style seafood dishes, such as prawn chow mein and fish schezuan, are particular favorites among regulars.