Pakistan – it is a country of distinctive cuisine, steeped in spices that produce rich aromas, and unique flavors…
One of the paramount pleasures of the Pakistani people is cooking. We love feeding, sharing recipes and consuming food as through food we convey celebration and reflection, be it an occasion of simple happiness. Defining our identity and our lives, the cultural melting pot of this nation is undoubtedly the cuisine we offer. Sprinkled with love and homeliness, the flavors are nothing short of intense adoration and hospitality through which we color everyone in our color.
Talking about food in Pakistan is actually being a part of the longstanding friendly food rivalry between Karachi and Lahore. However, knowing what our federal capital – Islamabad has to offer, it is safe to say that Islamabad is not far behind. If you know the right places to hit, the majestic capital has wonders to offer.
It may not be as diverse as two of the largest metropolitan of Pakistan, but Islamabad is a representation of the federation. It is the home for various ethnically diverse communities. Being the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad caters to not just to the locals but also a significant number of diplomats who are stationed here. This undoubtedly makes it adventurous due to the assimilation of cultures and amalgamation of flavors especially when it comes to a range of restaurants.
Graana brings you a list of some of the top desi restaurants in Islamabad so that instead of driving up to the Margallas you can have a new experience in places you’ve never been. Prepare to be blown away.
Top Desi Restaurants in Islamabad
|1. Chatta’s||Plaza 1 N, Street 14, Tariq Market، F-10/2||$$||Good|
|2. Dilli Darwaza||Plot no, 8 Street 33, F-8/1||$$||Good|
|3. Khoka Khola||Beverly Centre, Jinnah Ave, F 6/1 Blue Area||$$||Excellent|
|4. Des Pardes||Saidpur Rd, Saidpur, Islamabad||$$||Good|
|5. Melody Food Park||Street 5, G-6/3, Markaz G-6, Islamabad||$||Average|
|6. Chikachino||F-7 Markaz||$$||Good|
|7. Bismillah Tikka and Chargha||Madina Market, Block 5, Street 21, F-8/2||$||Good|
|8. Kyber Dodai||Super Market, School Rd, F-6 Markaz||$$||Good|
|9. Tandoori||Khursheed Market، Street 30, F-10/1||$$$||Good|
|10. Hot n Chilli||F-10 Markaz F 10/3||$||Average|
|11. Qishmisch||Bhittai Rd, F-7 Markaz||$$||Good|
|12. Usmania Restaurant||West Jinnah Ave, Block D G 6/2 Blue Area||$||Average|
|13. Salt’ n Pepper||Plot No. 55, Shabbir Plaza, Blue Area، G 6/2||$||Average|
|14. Andaaz||Saidpur Village, Saidpur Road, Islamabad||$$$||Excellent|
|15. Haleem Ghar||Ginza Center, Ground Floor، Jinnah Ave, G 7/2 Blue Area||$||Average|
|16. Bar BQ Tonight||Sohrab Plaza, group floor, Block -32, Fazl-e-Haq Road, Embassy Rd, G 6/3 Blue Area,||$$||Average|
|17. The Monal||Pir Sohawa Rd, Islamabad||$$||Excellent|
|18. Savour Foods||Furtune Plaza, 72 E Jinnah Ave, G 7/2 Blue Area, Islamabad||$||Average|
|19. Khiva Revolving Restaurant||5th & 6th Floor, STS Mall Plaza, Civic Center, Phase 4 Bahria Town, Rawalpindi||$$||Average|
|20. Habibi Restaurant||Executive Center, Tipu Sultan Rd, I-8 Markaz||$$||Average|
|21. Charsi Tikka||Saidpur Village, Saidpur Road, Islamabad||$||Average|
|22. Chilman||Ramzan Plaza, Mangla Rd, G-9 Markaz||$$||Average|
|23. Tapas||Jahangir Market، Shop No.1-3, Street 5, Mangla Rd, G-9/2||$$||Good|
|24. La Montana||Margalla Hills, 9 KMs، Pir Sohawa Rd||$$||Good|
|25. Rewayat||Al Hameed Mall, Shop no 16,17, G 11 Markaz||$$||Good|
*Disclaimer* Reading this piece may make you intensely crave food. We only take responsibility to awaken the cravings. It is advised to munch on snacks while you read forward.
Stowed away in the corner of F-10/2 Islamabad, in the unfamiliar Tariq Market, this restaurant has succeeded in making a name for itself. Chattha’s is the go-to place if you’re craving the best desi cuisine especially halwa puri nashta, daal mahkni or palak paneer in town.
It successfully serves the locals with delicious Pakistani cuisine. Using the right proportions of desi ghee, Chattha’s menu starts by offering a piping hot Lahori nashtas. However, ending not just at nashta, the restaurant serves guaranteed flavor in all its dishes be it nihari, thali or karahi.
So guys, on a rainy winter morning if you’re craving to start your day off with the best nashta, Chattha’s is the place to go. If you’re worried about the bill, take a breather as this bill would be light on the pocket and affordable.
Their love for food is delivered through the food they serve.
Location: Plaza 1 N, Street 14, Tariq Market، F-10/2, Islamabad
Facebook page: Chatta’s
2. Dilli Darwaza
If the name already does not give it away, Dilli Darwaza is an eatery resting in F-8/1 that pays a tribute to the Mughal era by serving hot and sizzling dishes once famously prepared for the Mughlai Dastarkhawan.
Adorned with portraits of Mughal emperors and royal palaces, Dilli Darwaza is a famous restaurant in Islamabad, always crammed with customers returning back to satisfy their nihari craving, which is served with a warm and homely experience.
The unmistakable aroma of spices overwhelms anyone who steps in here, and thus it becomes hard to not return to a plate full of the desi spicy glory. The specialty of Dilli Darwaza is serving nihari, which for many is a champion for breakfast all year round.
This little eatery serves its customers the Mughali feast, all week with great hustle and bustle over the weekends.
If you’re lost in town and searching to feast on a glorious plate of this Mughlai treat, head over to Dilli Darwaza to satisfy your cravings.
Location: Plot no. 8 Street 33, F-8/1, Allah wali Market, Islamabad
Facebook page: Dilli Darwaza
3. Khoka Khola
Situated in the basement of the Beverly Centre, Khoka Khola opened its doors for food lovers with the representation of khokha. As soon as you enter this small eatery, immortal Bollywood classical music of the 1960s and 1970s (which will remind you of heartbreak) is what sets your mood along with dimmed lighting and a cozy ambiance.
A vogue version of a khokha, this casual place bring the old-school charm of khokhas back by serving authentic street food of Pakistan. Want to try food that stands out from the entire menu? Order the makhni karahi, biryani, papri chaat or their chicken cheese naan (which literally oozes melted cheese and is a sight to behold). Offering numerous dishes of local cuisine, this khokha makes every effort to ensure that their customer gets the real desi experience in a homely manner.
With guaranteed flavors, Khokha Khola offers top class service and is affordable.
If you want to have a good desi experience, don’t forget to visit this place.
Location: Beverly Centre, Jinnah Ave, F 6/1 Blue Area, Islamabad
Facebook page: Khoka Khola
4. Des Pardes, Saidpur Village
Cocooned in the rich culture and heritage of Saidpur village, Des Pardes sits right in the foothills of the Margallas, providing a gracious view of the magnificent hills.
This is a place that along with delicious food offers peace and serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of the city and the village that it is in.
Saidpur village, being a tourist attraction has over time managed to attract not just the locals but also the foreign tourists all round the clock. Who wouldn’t want to crash at a relaxing restaurant at the end of their exploration?
Serving a generous menu, the standout dishes of this restaurant’s menu are Tikka Boti and Reshmi Seekh Kababs. But the delicacies don’t just end there, as they offer famous items from Peshawar’s namak mandi such as Dumpukht and Namkeen lamb karahi.
The beauty of this place does not end there. It also offers breath-taking views of the village nearby that holds a significant historical value. With everything being up to the mark, this place is the most expensive restaurant on this list.
But every single penny spent here will be worth it.
Location: Saidpur Rd, Saidpur, Islamabad
Facebook page: Des Pardes,Saidpur Village
5. Melody Food Park
The Melody Food Park is a small food street located in the G-6 Markaz, right next to the Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB). An amalgamation of over 20 local restaurants, Melody Food Park offers desi food in the truest meaning.
Serving the traditional Pakistani cuisine with economical prices, some of the go-to restaurants in the Melody Food Park are Jahangir- serves the meanest chicken and mutton karahi with reshmi kebabs, grilled to perfection. Be it a winter’s night or summer’s, make sure to taste the karahi is you’re in town.
The next stop here is Rajput for Bihari kebabs with parathas. This eatery serves its promise of serving food of the best quality.
Even though it was set-up in 2002, this is still the go-to destination for local foodies in search of spicy food and some delicious nashta.
For some Melody Food Park may have lost its charm because of the overall look of the place, but if you’re a true desi at heart, you will find charm in eating the delicious food.
Location: Street 5, G-6/3, Markaz G-6, Islamabad
For a nation that wakes up only after having a cup of tea, any place that offers tea is the place to be. Located in Jinnah Super Market in the F-7 Markaz, this hyped café is open 24 hours to serve its customers and to satiate their chai cravings.
The marvels that this restaurant offers do not end at tea, as they serve 12 different varieties of tea along with tantalizing desi snacks.
Before it expanded, you’d had to be lucky if you found an empty table at this little eatery. With the peak timing of the rush building up after 7 p.m, this café is the go-to place with a bunch of old friends, ready to walk down the memory lane as the diverse background music is played by the café itself.
Location: Markaz F-7, Islamabad
Facebook page: Chikachino
7. Bismillah Tikka and Chargha
If there was an award for a place that offers the best quality of food with the very scrumptious seekh kabab karahi, it would’ve surely been handed out to Bismillah Tikka and Chargha, which is strategically located in the diminutive market in F-8.
This is the go-to place of not just the nearby residents or the shop keepers, but also for the students of caters to four universities located just right across the road.
If you’re a true desi at heart, you probably wouldn’t mind eating even while sitting on the floor (not that they don’t have chairs, they do have a proper set-up); but if you’re not defined as a true desi, you might flinch at the name only. However, once you visit this place, not only will the aroma of the food put you under their spell but you’ll also be blown away by the hygiene of the restaurant. This restaurant is a very open eatery that has a visible kitchen. Once, you see the ambiance of this area, all fears will surely diminish.
Location: Madina Market, Block 5 Street 21, F 8/2, Islamabad
Facebook page: Bismillah Tikka and Chargha
8. Khyber Dodai
In the city of burgers comes a break from the usual fast food cuisine. The taste of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is brought by the city’s very own Khyber Dodai.
Food lovers out there who aren’t afraid to explore flavors must head out to Khyber Dodai to have a taste of KP’s cuisine. It is tucked away on the third floor and the rooftop on the fourth floor above Shaheen Cosmetics in Super Market.
Welcoming with a colorful model of a truck to represents the mehnat it takes to climb up the four flights of stairs, these restaurants make the experience very desi. Offering the simple food from a vibrant province, this eatery promises to all those living far from their homes in the north some nostalgia.
The restaurant’s food is reminiscent of traditional home cooking. In the short while that it has been open, Khyber Dodai has also become popular with foreigners looking for a less spicy take on Pakistani food.
Designed to look like a traditional Pakhtun family’s dining room, this restaurant has a homely ambiance because of the panoramic windows adorned with ethnic embroidered blinds, with rubab music playing in the background.
Offering various types of tikkas, karahis along with a few specialties, including the famous Kublai pulao and chapli kebab, Khyber Dodai has succeeded in replicating the taste of homemade Peshawari cuisine.
Location: Super Market, School Rd, F-6 Markaz
Facebook page: Khyber Dodai
Tandoori is a place ruled not just by tradition but nostalgia as well. It has two branches in Islamabad only, which are located in F-10 and G8. The Tandoori restaurant is known for offering warm hospitality and, a crystal clear environment, but is of course driven by the mouth-watering desi food.
Designed to portray an old fashioned and traditional styled decor, Tandoori restaurant is the home of some of the best items present in the Pakistani desi cuisines in Islamabad. Serving deliriously good mutton and chicken options with rotis, Tandoori has for years attracted desi food lovers by the finger-licking good barbeque items.
Having taken the inspiration from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, this restaurant is especially renowned for its Palak paneer, mutton, and chicken karahi. The wonder of their menu does not only end at desi cuisine, as they offer a rich continental experience as well. But if you want to have the best desi experience, make sure to visit either of the branches of Tandoori to redefine desi-ness for you.
Location: Khursheed Market, Street 30, F-10/1
Facebook page: Tandoori
10. Hot and Chilli
Talking about impressing only through the offered menu, Hot and Chilli beat every restaurant by offering a vast menu that is known for offering different flavors of their specialty, roll parathas!
Situated in Blue Area, Hot and Chilli offers special dishes ranging from Chinese, Biryani, barbeque, extras, and beverages anyone would love to try. Their menu offers 200+ flavors of roll and parathas you never tasted in the twin cities before.
If you’re sitting in your office during the lunch hour, with serious desi cravings, Hot and Chilli is the ultimate answer to your calling. Eat it anywhere or anytime, their menu is always exciting and as delicious as promised.
Hot and Chilli restaurant promises to rescue you from the bland biryanis offered here and there. Want the ultimate spice ka jhatka? Pick up your phone and call if you can’t drive up there to order the ‘chilman biryani’.
Location: F 10/3 F-10, Islamabad
Facebook page: Hot and Chilli
Qishmisch- a unique name for a unique restaurant. In the array of restaurants, the capital city offers, this unique eatery with a traditional name promises to cater to the foodies in search for the authentic Pakistani cuisine and find a taste that satisfies and is a treat for the taste-buds of food lovers.
Being ideally situated in the Jinnah Super Market in Islamabad, the location makes it more accessible for the masses to visit this restaurant offering traditional dishes and its authentic tastes.
Welcomed by a friendly staff, as you make your way through this restaurant, you are surrounded by a gorgeously spacious decor with an interesting take on Urdu alphabets on the wall, adding uniqueness and traditional touch to the overall ambiance. This restaurant makes this restaurant well suited for posh private dinners with families or friends. The restaurant is not just popular among youngsters, many foreigners exploring the original Pakistani cuisine find their answer in the food this restaurant serves.
Not only is the eating experience enjoyable but along with the quality, food hygiene is something that makes the food lovers return to this restaurant. With an open and wonderful view of the lovely kitchen, at Qishmisch you see the food being prepared for you.
The aroma of a fresh blend of spices in the air, with a tantalizing taste on your tongue, make sure you visit this restaurant again and again if you’re looking to experience the authentic taste of the desi cuisine.
Location: Bhittai Rd, F-7 Markaz, Islamabad
Facebook page: Qishmisch
12. Usmania Restaurant
Usmania restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in the capital. It is also considered as one of the best restaurants in the Blue Area, Islamabad, which is a hub of desi restaurants.
If you are an Isloo kid, you must have dined here at least once in your life. The place is famous for its yummy BBQ and soft naans. And the best part? It’s very affordable and easy on the pocket.
Location: 13 West Jinnah Ave, Block D G 6/2 Blue Area, Islamabad.
Facebook page: Usmania Restaurant
13. Salt’n Pepper
Salt’n Pepper is a very famous restaurant situated in F-6 Islamabad. It is known for its calm environment and attentive staff. The place is also offering individual deals, apart from the regular deals. So, if you are someone who likes to treat him/herself now and then, then Salt n’ Pepper is your go-to place.
Location: Plot No. 55, Shabbir Plaza, Blue Area, G 6/2 F-6, Islamabad
Facebook page: Salt’n Pepper
If you are looking for a fine dining option with a touch of class then Andaaz is your place to go. It is considered to be one of the top fine dining restaurants in Islamabad. Andaaz restaurant is located in Saidpur village, Islamabad.
The ambiance of the place is to die for. The whole place gives you classy and vintage vibes. If you are someone who likes aesthetic stuff along with lip-smacking food, then Andaaz is your destination.
Location: Saidpur Village Rd, Saidpur, Islamabad.
15. Haleem Ghar
Piping hot haleem with fried onions, loads of chilies, chopped coriander, lemon and touch of masala…YUM!! Haleem Ghar has always been my go-to place to satisfy my haleem cravings. They are offering a huge selection of desi dishes along with haleem. Also, their special falooda is AH-MAZING. You can also add ice-cream of your choice, jellies, nuts, sprinkles, and sauces to your falooda as well. And the price of this heaven? Just Rs. 200!
Location: Ginza Center, Ground Floor، Jinnah Ave, G 7/2 Blue Area, Islamabad.
Facebook page: Haleem Ghar
16. Bar BQ Tonight
The name says all. The place is offering charcoaled meaty heaven for Islamabadis. The place has a huge variety of BBQ along with traditional Pakistani cuisine. If you want to try out the clean, hygienic and yummy buffet on a budget then do try out Bar BQ Tonight. Their desserts and Lahore fried are amazing too.
Location: Sohrab Plaza, group floor, Block -32, Fazl-e-Haq Road Embassy Rd, G 6/3 Blue Area, Islamabad.
Facebook page: Bar BQ Tonight
17. The Monal
I’m sure most of you already know about Monal. If you want to experience some extraordinary scenic views along with mouthwatering Pakistani cuisine then Monal should be on top. The place is situated in the Margalla hills. The weather is amazing, the ambiance is splendid and the food is lip-smacking. Don’t forget to try out their famous cheese naan and foot-long kabab served with different chutneys and raitas.
Location: 9KM Pir Sohawa Rd, Islamabad.
Facebook page: The Monal
18. Savour Foods
Need full filling and delicious meals on a budget? Think no more and head towards savour food. Savour foods are so common in the twin cities that people jokingly call it the national food of Pakistan.
The place serves famous murgh pulao along with yummy burgers and ice-creams. Their pulao kabab has a very distinctive taste, making it favorite of all. Their servings are huge and they even offer you free refills of rice. So next time when you are out of your budget, visit savor foods.
Location: Fortune Plaza, 72 E Jinnah Ave, G 7/2 Blue Area, Islamabad, Islamabad.
Facebook page: Savour Foods
19. Khiva Revolving Restaurant
Khiva is another big name of Islamabad. It is a cheap and amazing place where you can satisfy your taste buds in no time. The place has some amazing deals as well in which you can enjoy several savory and sweet dishes.
The outdoor sitting is Khiva is beautiful with its simple yet classy decor. Next time when the weather is gorgeous, try visiting the Khiva. Hopefully, you will not regret it.
Location: 1st Floor, 6 Bhittai Rd, F-7 Markaz F 7 Markaz Jinnah Super Market، Islamabad.
Facebook page: Khiva Revolving Restaurant
20. Habibi Restaurant
If you want to experience the fusion of Pakistani and Arabian culture by sitting in Islamabad, then you have to visit Habibi restaurant. The whole ambiance and décor will remind you of Arabia.
Habibi is famous because of its humongous and tasty BBQ platters and karahis. The food comes piping hot with the right amount of spices and ingredients. Fortunately, all these big thaals of BBQ won’t cost you much. An average meal would cost you around Rs.500.
Location: I-8 Markaz, Executive Center Islamabad.
Facebook page: Habibi Restaurant
21. Charsi Tikka
The famous BBQ place of Peshawar has opened its branch in the capital. This place is serving juiciest and most succulent BBQ dishes in town. The place is situated in Saidpur village and gives you very desi and eastern vibes. If you want to sit and relax and enjoy some comfort food then do pay a visit to this place.
Location: Saidpur Village Rd, Saidpur, Islamabad.
Chilman is another great option. The places serve amazing chutneys and biryani and oh…don’t forget their karahi and chicken tikka. The food is always fresh, the staff is courteous and the service time is usually on point.
Location: Ramzan Plaza, Mangla Rd, G-9 Markaz.
Facebook page: Chilman
Tapas is in the town for quite some time now. The food quality is consistent and the ambiance is nice and cozy. If you are a fan of thali then do not forget to order the Pakistani thali from tapas. It comes with a serving of tandoori chicken, Bihari chicken, chicken seekh kabab, kachoomar Salad, zeera raita, zeera rice, and paratha. The serving is huge and it can easily serve 2 to 3 people.
Location: Jahangir Market, Shop No.1-3, Street 5، Mangla Rd, G 9/2, Islamabad.
Facebook page: Tapas
24. La Montana
Last but not least, La Montana is another superb eatery situated in the gorgeous mountains of Margalla. The place offers fresh and yummy food for the masses. The atmosphere and ambiance of the place are amazing.
Location: Margalla Hills, 9 KMs، Pir Sohawa Rd, Islamabad.
Facebook page: La Montana
25. Rewayat Restaurant
Another great addition to the city is the Rewayat restaurant. It is situated in G11 Markaz near Tehzeeb bakery.
The ambiance of the place is the perfect depiction of Pakistani culture. The colorful and vibrant decor and truck art give it local vibes. The piping hot BBQ platters followed by hot rice and yummy chutney makes this place an excellent option to dine in. The place is perfect for people who want to try a big BBQ platter with karahis and chutney.
Location: Al Hameed Mall, Shop no 16,17 G 11 Markaz Islamabad
Facebook page: Rewayat Restaurant
Pakistan, even after 70 years is a country with wonders waiting to be discovered, explored and experienced. Be it a Pakistani or a foreigner, the desi culinary experience offered promises to tantalize the mind and body by awakening your taste buds.
Hungry much? This was our list of some of the best restaurants in Islamabad. These places are considered some of the best places to eat in Islamabad. Give them a try and do let us know about your dining experience. We would like to hear your food reviews.
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