Karachi is a bustling metropolis with a lot of diversity which translates into the vibrant food scene of the city. From roadside dhabas to upscale cafes, Karachi has a variety of delicious foods to offer for every price point.
Here is a list of all the iconic dishes that you must try while you’re in Karachi:
1. Bihari Tikkah at Meerath Kabab House
Nobody does bbq better than Karachitties. The succulent Bihari tikkas at Meerath Kebbab House are a life-altering experience, paired with crisp puri parathas and tangy immli ki chatni, this is a must go to! Drown it all with Pakola for the ultimate Karachi experience.
2. Dum Biryani from Allah wala Biryani Center (Gol Market, Nazimabad)
If you’re team alo, don’t miss out on the flagrant dum biryani with aloos at Allah wala Biryani Center.
3. Fish by Yadgar (Jamshed Road Near Central Jail)
Much like their name, their battered fried fish is also very Yaadgaar.
4. Katakat and Brain Masala from Noorani (Do darya)
Whether you like just brain masala or want to mix it up with gurday kaporay and turn into Katakat, Noorani makes the best platter.
5. Beef Fry Kabab by Waheed (Burns Road)
Waheed’s infamous fry kebab is minced beef fried in butter. Pro tip: try it with the special bread buns from the bakery around the corner, or get some sweet sheermal to complement the spicy delicacy.
6. Haleem from Mazedar Haleem (Burns Road)
One does not simply go to Karachi without eating some delicious Haleem. Though there are several great eateries to chose from, Mazedar Haleem is a clear contender. Their Biryani is also delectable.
7. Javed Nihari (Dastagir, F.B.Area)
With enough Scoville heat units to make you weep into your plate- this spicy curry is best paired with a sugary sheermal.
8. Nihari by Ghaffar Kabab House (DMS & Port Grand)
Speaking of Nihari, Ghaffar Kabab House also whips up a mean batch. Recommended with a batch of fresh sheermaals.
9. BBQ by Ghaffar Kabab House (DMS & Port Grand)
Karachi’s BBQ game is the strongest in the country. The mere options for bbq leave the simpleton Punjabi in me awestruck. Krachittes swear by the options available at Ghaffar Kebab House, I mean just look at that beauty *drolls*
10. Afghani Boti at Al-Asif (Sohrab Goth)
The Sohrab Goth neighborhood is the entry point into Karachi. Predominately populated by Pakhtuns, this neighborhood has some of the finest Afghan joints and dhabbas in the city, collectively called Al-Asif square. Bustling with truckers and drivers, this place errs on the side of cautionary in terms of safety. The food, however, is remarkable. If you can find the courage to venture this far, succulent Afghani Botis pieced together on a skewer with some charbi await you.
11. Namkeen Boti And Afghani Pulao by Al-harmain (Al-Asif square)
Located in the aforementioned Al-Asif square at Sohrab Goth, Al-harmain serves namkeen boti and Afghani pualo that is so remarkable you will feel like you’ve been transported to Kabul.
12. Peshawari Chapli Kabab by A-one (Shah Faisal)
Speaking of Pakhtun specialties in less risky neighborhoods, try the Peshawari Chapli Kabab’s by A-one. Karcahiites swear by this joint.
13. Chullu Kebabs from Chullu Subhani Cafe (Saddar)
This Iranian gem tucked in Sadar makess the most succulent grilled chicken and chullu kebabs served with buttery rice and fries. Posh eateries that are big on ambiance but serve lackluster food need to take a lesson on flavor from Chullu Subhani Cafe.
14. Balochi Tikka from Madina 2 (Super Highway)
The closest thing to a Balochi Tikkah is Tawa Chicken. This delicious highway cuisine is the love child of a karahi and a tikkah. Head over to Madina 2 to try this amazingness.
15. Karhai by Anwar Baloch (Malir)
In the mood for the best karahi in the city? Head over to Anwar Baloch in Malair.
16. Kali Mirch Chargha by Café Laziz
This one of a kind chargha is made with coarse black peppercorn and continues to win hearts even decades later.
17. Murgh Cholay by Ghousia near City Court
Open only for lunch, you’ll have the unique experience of dining with criminals in handcuffs, lawyers, and policemen at this roadside eatery. The flavor is so robust that this joint is quite famous with the locals.
18. Goan Crab Curry From Biryani of The Seas (Clifton)
Karachi is the hub of seafood and a source of export quality crabs. If you enjoy seafood you absolutely must go to Biryani of the Seas (BOTS). Their Goan Crab Curry is a unique blend of flavors. Your taste buds will dance with delight.
19. Jheenga Masala From Biryani of The Seas (Clifton)
BOTS giant jheengay in a spicy tomato and onion based sauce will leave you scraping the dish clean.
20. Yuan Tung Chinese Restaurant (Tariq Road)
For decades now, Yuan Tung has consistently served the very best desi Chinese (also known as Hakka Chinese) in the city. The decor is old school but their Manchurian will make you forget that.
21. Singaporean Rice by Kashif Foods (Near Rab Medical, Gulshan)
22. Hunter Beef Burger from Hanifia (multiple locations)
Hanifia’s hunter beef recipe is so popular with the locals that no list is complete without mentioning their extremely popular Hunter beef burgers. The beef melts in your mouth.
23. Super Bun Kabab at Pakistan Chowk
This roadside joint is a testimony to “jitna ghaleez, unta lazeez”. You can joke all you want about the origin of the meat in the shami kebabs, but the moment you taste this deliciousness, your eyes will widen with sheer joy. Apparently, this is one of the oldest bun kebab places in the city and the best. True story: I once took an American friend here who first yelled about how I was going to get him killed, and thereon proceeded to eat not one, not two, but five f***ing bun kebabs, and to date talks about how glorious they were.
24. Beef Burger by Khan Broast (Near Waterpump)
What’s not to love? Spicy beef patty, tangy chutney and chatpattay fries. Yum, yum, yum.
25. Cheese Loader by Bon Bistro (Maskan, Gulshan)
Cheese literally oozes out of the spicy chicken patty as you dig your teeth in. This desi fusion burger is hands down better than half the international chains out there.
26. Broast by Kundan (Naseerabad)
Old school desi broast with chat pattay fries and chutney don’t get any better than at Kundan.
27. Chicken Chatni Roll by Hot n Spicy (Khadda Market)
Roll parathas, kebab rolls, tikkah rolls have all been placed on the map by Karachi. This delicious street food, now enjoyed all over Pakistan, is quiet frankly still the best in the city that gave birth to it. Try the finger licking Hot ‘n’ Spicy version at Khadda Market. Guaranteed you will want a second.
28. Lachaydaar Parathay from Quetta Alamgir Hotel (Alamgir Road)
Garma garam chai-paratha is the quintessential Pakistani nashta. Carbs with a side of caffeine sound like a delightful start to the day. Alamgir serves the flakiest, lachaydaar paratha that quite honestly we could eat half a dozen of.
29. Passport Office Kachori with Alo ki Tarkari (Saddar, next to Masjid-e-Khizran)
Residents say this is the oldest Kachoori maker in the city. Many governments have come and gone, what has remained consistent throughout the years is the quality of these kachoris, served with alo tarkari and gajar ka achar.
30. Bombay Chaat House
Chaat it up when in Karachi. This iconic Chaat House in Bohri Bazaar has been serving the most divine chaats for over 40 years.
31. Regular and Cream Fruit Chat at Nursery (Shara-e-Faisal)
Be it the creamy version or the regular version, Nursery whips up some of the best fruit chats. Ab ap aa hi gaye hein to yahan ka laziz bun kabab bi check kerain.
32. Dahi Baray by Fresco (Burns Road)
Fresco kay chat patay dahi baray- haiiiiiiiii. Moun mein pani aagaya
33. Plaza ki Chaat
‘Cause there is never enough chaat that one can have.
34. Nashta at Boat Basin
Several nashta joints to choose from at Boat Basin, but Deera’s halwa puri deserves a special shout-out.
35. Gola Ganda at Dhoraji
Karachi adds many frills to gola gandas elevating them from simple snow cones to complicated desserts. The delicious gola gandas from Dhoraji will surely make your day.
36. Peshawari Ice Cream (Sadar)
The oldest creamery in the city, Peshawar Ice Cream Parlour has been operating in Empress Market since 1947. Their specialty- the Peshawri Ice Cream, is a subtle vanilla flavored ice-cream that is so popular that rivals have ubiquitously named their vanilla ice-creams Peshawri Ice-Cream. Try the original at Saddar.
37. Falooda from Baloch Ice Cream Parlour
No trip to Karachi is complete without having Karachi’s creamy, colorful falooda.
38. Rabri by Dehli Rabri House (Burns Road)
If you like dairy, you must try the creamy rabri at Dehli Rabri House. If you want to indulge in extreme decadence, try their Shahi Tukray topped with rabri.
39. Doodh Patti from a Dhaba
With the rising dhaba culture in Karachi and campaigns like Girls at Dhabas that have redefined public spaces for women, dhabas serving garma garm doodh patti and delicious parathas have erupted all over the city. For the ultimate chai experience, visit one of the many outdoor dhabas in the city decorated by truck art- a trend that we hope soon takes off in every city in Pakistan.
Let us know in the comments below, how many of these iconic food places have you been to in Karachi and which ones are your favorite. Happy eating!
Cover image via: dawn.com