Found at street level in Islamabad’s luxurious Serena hotel, Rakaposhi Cafè & Patisserie is the ideal place to while away some time in an elegant setting. The red-dominated venue boasts a sensual design, with spot lighting, marble floors and a number of unique, large pillars coated with reflective copper foils, and enticing seating on the outdoor lawn. Besides coffee and other hot and cold beverages, the cafe serves delicious snacks such as typically Asian samosas, tongue-tingling fried pastries offered with a variety of flavourful fillings, or the signature Serena Club sandwich, layered with fried egg, grilled chicken, turkey bacon and cheddar cheese. For those with a sweet tooth, the patisserie has a rich gamut of tempting delicacies, made from scratch in-house.
Rakaposhi, Ramna 5, Khayaban-e-Suhrawardy, Islamabad, Pakistan, +9251111133133
It might be daunting to make a pick from the many, many options on restaurant Khiva‘s menu, but any of the courses on offer, drawn from the culinary traditions of Pakistan and other Asian cuisines, are sure to please the diner’s palate. Choose from Pashtun specialties such as the delicious grilled thin minced Peshawari beef or lamb egg chops; a range of succulent meats barbecued the Afghan way; lamb or chicken stewed in a karahi or a handi, two local pieces of kitchenware; and a wealth of other equally delicious dishes, including a gamut of enticing soups and salads. Enjoy the lavish meal in Khiva’s tranquil, intimate setting, in a welcoming venue characterized by a number of beautiful carpets hanging on the walls, rather than lying on the floor.
Italian food is quite popular in Islamabad, and Siena Ristorante serves some of the best Italian fare in town. Named after the picturesque city in Tuscany, the restaurant offers many of Italy’s most acclaimed specialties. Start with bruschettas or a fritto misto of calamari and prawns, and proceed with some oven-baked lasagna or pasta alla carbonara before moving on to one of the juicy steaks on the menu. There are several dining rooms, each themed around a particular Italian city, but nothing beats the Venice-inspired pool: docked on the water are a few gondolas equipped with small tables, and at the centre of the pool floats a small platform with one romantic table for two which can be reached through a bridge reminiscent of Venice’s Ponte di Rialto. Maybe a little tacky, but that’s what makes it fun.
Themed cafè 1969 brings its visitors back to the glorious 1960s, a prosperous period that saw exceptional growth for Islamabad and the whole of Pakistan. The ample space is characterised by bright colours, an elaborately decorated roof from which a glass chandelier with floral motifs hangs, furnishings typical of the 1960s and old newspaper clippings featured as prints both on the walls and the table mats. 1969 also flaunts a large outdoor space where guests are welcome to have their tasty meal while enjoying the fresh air. Offering simple but authentic Pakistani and continental fare, 1969 is a food haunt like no other in Islamabad.
1969, Shakarparian, Islamabad, Pakistan, +92512607263