Their speciality is their organic chicken karahi
Restaurants in Pakistan are very different from others around the world.
Yes, you will find fine dining places with aesthetic ambience and top-notch food.
But the true taste of Pakistani cuisine lies in small Dhaba type restaurants that have been there for ages.
They serve authentic Pakistani food, and you will never find these places empty.
Let’s look at the top restaurants in Pakistan that are worth a try!
The list starts with Lahore’s famous food street that is home to many traditional restaurants. If you are taking a tour of Lahore, you must visit Andaaz Restaurant.
The fine dining experience is coupled with a beautiful view of the Badshahi Masjid, highlighting the culture of Lahore.
The buildings are enriched in history and tales of Lahore which can you see from the rooftop of Andaaz.
Another Andaaz Restaurant is in Islamabad. It is located in Saidpur Village where you can enjoy the sight of Margalla Hills in a festive ambience.
Butt Karahi needs no introduction as it has been one of the most popular restaurants in Lahore for years.
Their speciality is their organic chicken karahi which is made in Desi ghee and served fresh.
It is situated in the famous Lakshmi Chowk, Lahore, which is home to many other legendary eateries.
Amritsari Hareesa is a traditional dish of ground wheat mixed with meat and heavily seasoned.
You can find the finest Amritsari Hareesa at a restaurant called Amratsari Harisa in Lahore on Nisbat Road where the whole city comes to enjoy.
It is not nearly as fancy, but that has definitely never stopped Lahoris before.
That is the beauty of restaurants in Pakistan. They are small and compact. You might prefer takeout or eating in your car, but it’s the food that makes the experience so unique.
Phajja Siri Paye
Paye is another traditional dish in Pakistan which is in a soup-like form made by hooves of a cow or goat served with naan.
In Lahore, you can find the most savoury paye at Fazal e Haq Restaurant, also known as Phajja Siri Paye, located in Shahi Mohallah Walled City.
Now that you know about the top places for karahi, hareesa and paye, the list does not end here.
Nihari, a common dish in Pakistan, has always been a part of the list of favourite Pakistani foods.
If you have not yet tried it, you must visit the famous Waris Nihari in Lahore.
Their nihari has the perfect blend of spices with garam masala sprinkled right before serving.
Most of these restaurants are located in or near Gawalmandi, which is the old food street of Lahore.
Mahreen Ghafoor, a food expert, shares her feelings about these restaurants in Pakistan.
She says: “People from all around the world come here to have a taste of the flavours and spices that are derived from the timeless, traditional recipes of our ancestors.”
There is nothing a delicious halwa puri can’t fix on a Sunday morning. That too if you are visiting the iconic Capri.
It is situated in Liberty Market Gulberg III, Lahore. It has been a top place for breakfast for many years.
Their nashta platter consists of chana masala, halwa and two puris with achaar (pickle), which is enough for one person. And all this for $1!
They have a decent sitting area, but many people prefer to sit in their cars and enjoy their breakfast in peace.
Aqsa Tahir shares her experience at Capri: “I was shocked to see how a small eatery had a continuous overflow of customers. Perhaps, that’s the thing about Pakistani restaurants.”
Salt’n Pepper Village
Salt’n Pepper Village in Lahore and Karachi is a childhood favourite of Pakistanis with a variety of Desi food and scrumptious desserts.
It has a bazaar type ambience where food is cooked in front of you.
The chain of restaurants claims to revive traditional cuisine and old recipes.
Bundu Khan is an extensive chain of restaurants in Pakistan with a variation of cuisines from Chinese to Desi.
Their BBQ, handi and karahi with paratha are the most loved dishes from the menu.
In Lahore, Bundu Khan offers a special halwa puri nashta with a beautiful outdoor seating area. It is an excellent spot for an outing with friends or family.
Burgers and steaks never go out of taste and you can satisfy your cravings at Howdy in Johar Town, Lahore.
The restaurant offers a plethora of burgers and steaks all set in a casual environment.
They have a western-themed atmosphere where you get served by waiters dressed up as cowboys in giant hats and boots.
Restaurants in Pakistan are known for their Desi food, but if you are in the mood for Chinese food, Rice Bowl Lahore is a must go.
They offer food bowls with different combinations depending on your preference.
Top favourite items from their menu are kung pao chicken and cashew nut chicken.
Located in the beautiful Margalla Hills, Monal has become one of the top places in Islamabad.
Along with a variety of cuisines, here you can see the whole of Islamabad city!
Sunday brunches and fancy dinners at Monal have become a trend now.
It has a beautiful outlook, and you also have an opportunity to shop for souvenirs when you are there!
The very famous Savour Foods is situated in Blue Area, Islamabad. However, there are other branches in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
When it comes to pulao, Pakistanis knows that only Savour Foods can satisfy their tastebuds.
The pulao is served with Shami kebab which makes it a popular dish among the locals.
If you are visiting Islamabad and are in the mood of something traditional and light on the pocket, be sure to check this out.
Pakistan is home to a variety of Desi foods with countless traditional restaurants to choose from.
But if you are looking for Italian cuisine, Tuscany Courtyard in Islamabad should be on your list.
The restaurant has recently opened in Lahore as well.
It has a fancy ambience with an open courtyard setting as well making it perfect for your night out.
Khoka Khola is a modern Dhaba style eatery in Islamabad with a very limited, yet delicious menu.
Their butter chicken has become the talk of the town which is served with rice and tandoori roti.
The food is served in traditional steel thalis. Apart from the regular three dishes, their special dish varies every day.
You can enjoy your meal with a chilled lassi or creamy doodh patti, which is another delight in Pakistan.
Syeda Maryam Fatima from The Blush Works shared her experience:
“Khoka Khola is the perfect blend of fusion-Desi street food, above-par service and a vintage khoka ambience.”
Jalil Kabab House
Peshawar is known for its Pashtun-style cuisine which mainly includes meat dishes.
When talking about chapli kebab, Jalil Kabab House is unmatched.
Their delicious chapli kebabs are served with chopped onions, tomatoes and finished off with different spices and green chillies.
Jalil Kabab House is one of the most famous restaurants in Peshawar.
According to The Localist: “Around 1,000 people including tourists, politicians, students and celebrities, dine on chapli kabab there every day.”
Charsi Tikka is also one of the top places in Lahore known for namkeen gosht, tikka and other meat items.
It is an Afghan restaurant which is situated among other restaurants but for those wanting authentic tikka, this outlet is the one to go to.
The simple atmosphere adds to the traditional touch, and it makes an excellent place for a family outing.
Biryani is the nation’s most favourite dish no matter where you go.
Karachi is known for its biryani, and while you’re there, you must check out Madni Biryani for an authentic taste on the popular rice dish.
Their biryani has the perfect blend of spices, just how Pakistanis like it.
The place is famous all over the city because of its authentic biryani and super affordable prices.
Kolachi is a seaside restaurant in Karachi, known for its classic Pakistani and continental cuisine.
You can also find excellent seafood platters at this place as the fish is freshly caught from the sea.
At night, the view is magical as the lights on the shore illuminate, making it a wholesome experience.
In addition to food, the environment of the place is equally important as it gives visitors a break from their busy lives.
When it comes to fine dining, Karachi breaks all records with a great variety of different cuisines to choose from.
Okra is considered as the top place for Mediterranean fine dining as the restaurant has experimented with ingredients and recipes over the years in order to perfect the art of cooking.
Their restaurant has an aesthetic outlook, and along with the fancy food, it definitely deserves 5 stars.
Lal Qila Restaurant
The beautiful red brick building of Lal Qila will remind you of the Mughal Era and its culture.
It is gracefully decorated with items from the era that take you back to the 17th century.
Here, you can enjoy fine dining with Mughlai, Tandoori, BBQ and authentic Pakistani cuisine.
There are outlets in Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore.
Most of the restaurants in Pakistan have a unique story of their own. To your surprise, the smallest ones are the oldest ones and they have been closest to the hearts of Pakistanis.
Visiting these restaurants in Pakistan is a wholesome experience. The love and hard work Pakistanis put in their food is a depiction of the sentimental value it holds for them.
The restaurants are a symbol of heritage and history in Pakistan where their passion for food has been passed down generations.