Karachi is one of the fastest growing cities in South Asia, with a booming economy and an increasing affluence which is fueling the growth of the city’s restaurant scene. The culinary establishments of Karachi now combine a wide range of world cuisines with authentic Pakistani food, as is evident from these ten restaurants, which embody the best of international culture and gastronomy.
Offering authentic Pakistani cuisine at affordable prices, Desi Cuisine is one of the best places to go for traditional food in Karachi. The name Desi refers to the restaurants’ emphasis on the traditional aspects of South Asian cuisine, which it does to perfection. Particular highlights of their menu include their scrumptious grilled fish, gently crisped behari boti, spicy dhaga and behari kebabs and succulent seekh kebab & grilled prawns as well as classic Desi dishes such as pani poori and nihari beef. The authenticity extends to the interiors of the restaurant, and the convivial atmosphere which allows patrons to enjoy the best of Pakistani cuisine in a laid back and no frills environment.
For a taste of French fine dining in Karachi, visit Café Flo. This hidden gem is nestled amidst the bustling streets of Karachi and is committed to offering the best of French cuisine and gastronomy. First opened by the daughter of a French countess, Café Flo has built up a reputation as the ‘best bistro in Karachi’ and continues to offer a haven of peace and Gallic sophistication for Pakistan’s Francophiles. Dishes such as smoked salmon served with avocado purée, herbed butter chicken on a bed of Leek fondant and grilled fresh tuna steak with a light coriander and fresh herb pesto make a visit to Café Flo an unmissable Karachi experience.
Café Flo, D82/1, Block 4, Clifton (Off 26th Street), Karachi, +92 21 35830018
A combination of the cultural and the culinary, Lal Qila Restaurant Karachi specializes in resurrecting the cuisine of the Mughal Era, offering patrons a ‘mock Mughal’ dining experience which evokes the palatial luxury of a Mughal Emperor’s table. The themed restaurant experience provides outdoor dining in castle-like surroundings which bring out ‘the legendary grandeur of a splendid and noble past’. The cuisine meanwhile is a combination of Mughlai, Tandoori, Barbecue and Traditional Pakistani, all of which can be enjoyed from Lal Qila’s extensive buffet service. The restaurant regularly introduces new dishes and holds special events and performances that see the Mughal style courtyard transformed into a Mughal musical venue.
A seaside restaurant which allows diners to enjoy the fruits of the Arabian Sea, Kolachi is a new addition to the Karachi food scene which has rapidly made a name for itself. Led by Chef Noor, the Kolachi kitchen produces a range of Pakistani classics as well as several continental European styled dishes and some stunning seafood platters. Dishes such as the spicy barbecued Hunzai Kabab, or the Kolachi Karahi, which apparently tastes just like an authentic Karahi should taste, combine with a range of grilled fish dishes to make this a sumptuous dining experience. The seaside location is a major part of the restaurant’s appeal of course, and it truly comes alive at night as the spectacular lights of the Karachi shore are turned on.
The best place in Karachi for Mediterranean fine dining, Okra brings a touch of class and elegance to the city’s restaurant scene. Located on Zamzama, Okra opened its doors in 1999 and has excelled at offering first class Mediterranean classics ever since, gaining a reputation as one of the most stylish and contemporary restaurants in Karachi. Okra’s commitment to fresh cuisine and culinary innovation is evident in an extensive menu which changes throughout the day, as well as throughout the year, and in their dedication to using seasonal ingredients. Specialties on the menu include ricotta and spinach ravioli, braised lamb rack with herbs de Provence, Cote d’Azur style scallops on croutons and their many delectable desserts.
Okra, 12-C, 10h Zamzama Commercial Lane, Ph-V, DHA, Karachi, +92 21 35866616
The finest Japanese restaurant in Karachi and one of the most popular spots in the city, Oishi Sushi is the best place to experience a slice of Japanese culture in Pakistan. The first class sushi and sashimi are the main attraction of Oishi Sushi and are slowly but surely converting Karachi foodies to the joys of Japanese cuisine. Alongside these mainstays, Oishi Sushi also produces exceptional yakitori, gyoza and other classic Japanese dishes which are very hard to find elsewhere in the city, as well as several Korean staples and some original sushi combinations like the fiery Dragon Maki.
A worthwhile addition to the international dining scene in Karachi, Fuchsia offers the best of modern Thai cuisine in an upscale and sophisticated environment. Located in Karachi’s Zamzama district, Fuchsia prides itself on producing artistic takes on well-known Thai classics, presenting everything in a tapas style which is designed for sharing. Head chef Kelvin Loke has worked alongside several Michelin starred heavyweights and this is evident in the attention to detail and refinement in Fuchsia’s menu, as well as its innovative and playful attitude towards Thai flavors and ingredients. Dishes such as steamed sea bass with chili and ginger crust with lemon balm, toffee glazed crispy banana fritters with vanilla sauce and Thai tea ice cream are both delicious and endlessly surprising.
The best Italian restaurant in Karachi, and one of the best in Pakistan, La Mamma is the best place to be for anyone seeking gourmet Italian style cuisine in the city. Located in the Sheraton Hotel, this restaurant offers fine dining comfort food, with an extensive range of pastas, pizzas, risottos and other Italian classics on the menu. The grilled steaks are a particular highlight of the menu, whilst ossobuco, pollo and gnocchi are the restaurant’s signature dishes. The traditional cuisine, combined with an interior which evokes traditional Italian haunts, make this an authentically Italian experience in the heart of Pakistan.
La Mamma, Sheraton Karachi Hotel, Karachi, +92 21 35633333
Karachi may not be known for its extensive array of Chinese restaurants, but China Kitchen more than makes up for its lack of local rivals with its comprehensive menu of dishes from throughout China. This is the best place to experience the incredible wealth of culinary delights which make up Chinese food, from the scintillating spice of Szechuanese food to delectable Cantonese dim sum and unique inventions such as shredded beef strips in a sticky sauce served on a nest of crispy noodles.
For a more rustic and authentic take on local cuisine, visit Biryani of the Seas, located near Clifton Bridge. This popular seafood stall offers some of the best seafood dishes in the city, with the atmosphere of a convivial roadside haunt. Specialty dishes include prawn biryani, prawn makhni handi and goan crab curry, which are all served in the restaurant’s typical no-fuss manner. The restaurant provides both indoor and outdoor seating, but for the full experience diners should opt for the latter to enjoy the friendly atmosphere which is so typical of Karachi’s thriving restaurant scene.