In contrast to the burgeoning dining scene in Pakistan’s
capital, Islamabad, Peshawar is slightly lagging behind. However, there are sophisticated restaurants serving flavorful, traditional food to explore here. We list the 10 best places to dine in Peshawar.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
There are not many restaurants around the world that can juggle seven different but equally tantalising international cuisines under the same roof, but Celesté does just that. Unsurprisingly, the magnificent seven include some of the world’s most popular and appreciated styles, plus a few exquisite local types: Italian, Mongolian, Thai, Mughlai, Lebanese, Japanese and Mexican are the options that Celesté’s customers can craft their meal from. Besides the excellent and ever so diverse food, Celesté stands out in Peshawar as one of the restaurants in town most suited for a family dinner, due to its comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.
Celesté, Old Jamrud Rd, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 91 584 343 45
Barbecued meats are a big part of Pakistani cooking, and Habibi is one of the most popular choices in Peshawar for an over-the-top, finger-licking barbecue bash, and at a good price. The Habibi Special Bar-B-Q Platter, the house’s flagship offering, brings to the table kabli pulao (rice pilaf with lamb, cabbage, cauliflower and various nuts), malai tikka (skewered chicken prepared with yogurt, cheese, cardamom and cumin) and, of course, the roasted meats: chicken and beef kebab, chicken thighs and mutton ribs. The rest of the menu is packed with many inviting dishes, from the special selection of fish-based bites to the ‘Mughlai Delights’, and don’t overlook their delicious curries.
Habibi Restaurant & Bar BQ, Jamrud Rd W, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 051 4448555
Pakistani cooking is a complex and elaborate range of dishes, spices and flavors with mixed influences from the Middle East, the Far East and neighbouring India. Explore all the exotic nuances of such a rich culinary culture at restaurant Shiraz, a veritable centerpiece in Peshawar’s dining scene. Shiraz is a failsafe choice to enjoy the highlights of Pakistan’s and Afghanistan‘s gastronomy, prepared according to traditional, delicious recipes that have been in local families for years. Among the many tempting courses on offer, be sure to try the barbecued chicken, the national dish of Pakistan.
Shiraz Restaurant, Tahkal, Peshawar, Pakistan.
Cafe, Restaurant, Indian, $$$
Café Crunch is the dining miracle of food entrepreneur Sadia Bilour, a mother of two who, a few years ago, decided to open a cafe in Peshawar’s University Town. Originally, Café Crunch was one outlet in a chain of cafes called Masoom’s Café. But Bilour’s efforts and skills transformed the spot in such a homely and popular food destination among Peshawarites that she was eventually able to claim her own special place in the city. Café Crunch is particularly recommended to those with a sweet tooth; mouthwatering cakes, pastries, cookies and all sorts of other sweets come out fresh from the oven every day.
Cafe Crunch, University Town, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 91 5701061
Restaurant Layalina, in the Shelton Hotel, produces delectable dishes inspired by traditional Peshawari food, with influences from other Asian countries. There is also a selection of Italy’s irresistible pizzas and pasta. However, what is most striking about Shelton’s Layalina is its delightful ambience; the venue is full of wooden floors and beautiful pieces of decor that create an elegant yet intimate atmosphere. Ask to be seated in one of the 12 dining rooms, or try the charming outdoor area for a relaxing night out in Peshawar.
Layalina, Shelton Greens Hotel, Saddar (Cantt) Bazar, Saddar Rd, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 91 527 0183
Darvesh is an unpretentious little spot in Peshawar serving authentic, traditional Pakistani staples. The rich menu includes rices, soups, salads and the unmissable Pakistani meats, both barbecued and not, with a special selection of exquisite dishes prepared with the mutton meat that is so common in Pakistan. Darvesh takes particular pride in its nans, the flatbreads baked in the tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven typical of Southern Asia. Try the cheese, garlic, mint, spicy, beef or chicken nans for a real treat.
Darvesh, 32-A/2 Old Jamrud Rd, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 91 5703017
Three different branches in the city and a 50-year history of feeding Peshawar’s residents are part of Namak Mandi‘s reputation as a go-to for authentic Pakistani staples. Try the hot tikka karahi, a portion of chicken, lamb or mutton meat cooked in a karahi, a utensil similar to the Chinese wok, and characterized by the strong, spicy flavour of capsicum pepper. Or tuck into the chapli kebab, a top favorite among Peshawarites and available in beef or chicken meat. Its unique taste comes from typically Pakistani ingredients such as the pomegranate and dry coriander seeds added to the succulent meat.
Namak Mandi, Jahangirpura, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan, +92 051 5522167
Tai Pan and Marco Polo
The Pearl Continental Hotel is one of the most exclusive hotels in Peshawar, more commonly referred to by the locals as simply “the PC”. The hotel comprises two excellent restaurants that rise distinctly above the average quality of many of Peshawar’s dining spots. The Tai Pan restaurant serves some of the best Chinese food in town, in a charming setting inspired by traditional Chinese decor. Try one of their tasty soups or the pan fried noodles. On the other hand, the Marco Polo restaurant is a nice choice for those looking to enjoy fine continental food, although local specialties are also listed on the menu. In addition to a range of courses, both restaurants offer daily specials prepared with the freshest ingredients the season has to offer.
Pearl Continental Hotel, Khyber Road, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 (91) 111 505 505
Years ago, Chief Burgers pioneered fast food in Peshawar. For the first time, Peshawarites tasted a range of delicious burgers, rolls and pizzas in a fast food outlet, and loved the experience. Indeed, Chief Burgers’ snacks (the menu also includes a tempting selection of sizzling steaks and fried chicken bites) have been so consistently good, and the service so invariably satisfying, that it is one of the busiest dining spots in Peshawar. It is particularly popular with the city’s university students, who love the combination of tasty food and cheap prices.
Chief Burgers, Jahangir Abad, Peshawar, Pakistan, +92 91 5844788