Food & Restaurants in Islamabad
At first glance the visitor may feel that Islamabad offers little to excite the taste-buds, however beneath the surface there is a thriving restaurant scene. There are many typical dhabbas (small restaurants) which offer traditional food. Many of the better restaurants are away from the main markets of F6 and F7. Most do not serve alcohol, but some allow you to bring your own. Call ahead to ask.
For ease of use restaurants are organised by sector:
- Majlis, Hill Road (northern end, on the F6-3 side), a trendy place with good Lebanese food. A place where you will find the movers and shakers of the city and a large portion of the Arabic diplomatic community. The food is pretty good (although some would argue that the Lebanese Cafe in F10 is more authentic), and the setting just right. Though those visiting on a tight budget can choose to avoid it, it sure is worth a stop. It also delivers.Al Ghaazal HOTEl I10 Markaz REHMAT PLAZA ISLAMABAD
- Mango Tree / Nana's Kitchen, 2 Hill Road F6/3 (old UN Club building), 051 2279313. lunch & dinner. Tastefully understated refurbishment of the old UN club building. Mango Tree offers great Thai food, a delicate combination of fresh ingredients and authentic Thai flavours. A bit pricey - the owners play the old trick of slapping on 17% tax and 10% service to the bill, hence mains are about Rs 700 a pop. The upstairs balcony is particularly pleasant.
Downstairs Nana's kitchen serves up a decent lunch and dinner menu with Brunch on Sundays. And their cupcakes are famous in Islamabad. The decor is tastefully done in soft tones and is accented by a large beautifully built fireplace.
- Table Talk, Khosar Market, 051 227-1927. lunch and dinner. understated, home-cooked, well presented Asian and European food, in a small, cosy inside-outside restaurant with London Books (shop) next door. The place is aimed squarely at the expat market, and priced with this in mind. Owner also runs Riffy's restaurant in Chak Sharzad - call for details.
- Khiva offers a Central Asia Cuisine. It has indoor and outdoor seating. Address: House no.64, Main Margalla Road, F-6/3, Islamabad
- Nandos, F6 super market, south side. lunch and dinner. recently opened branch of the popular chicken chain mains Rs 300.
- Cafe Khaas, No. 1, Street 2, F-6/3. Cafe Khaas, is an extension of Khaas Art Gallery. A lunch only place that is normally packed, though expensive has great food. They also boast one of the finest art collections in Islamabad. Look for "Mouse" or the manager, and you will be given personal attention. Make sure you get a suggestion for what is best, and work your way through the limited, but exquisite menu. At the lunch hour, this place is filled with yet more, movers and shakers of Islamabad, from the business men, to politicians, models and expats. The place is always kicking for the sophisticated lunch.
- Luna Caprese, 34 School Road, F-6/3 (look for a house with L C on the gates), . Famous for being the site of a bomb attack in 2008, offers acceptable Italian dining with an extensive menu covering, pastas, seafood and meat. Wine and beer available at a price (Rs 600 for a glass of red). Nice garden out back. pricey.
- Cafe Melange House 6, Street 41, F-6/1. Eat in, take away or delivery. Pizza is some of the best in Islamabad. 023 136 352 643
- Espresso Lounge, F-7 Markaz (Jinnah Super), Behind Shell Petrol pump and standard Chartered Bank. Best Cafe of the town. Specialize in a variety of coffees, pastas, salads, sandwiches, desserts. 051-2652943
- Upper Deck, F-7 Markaz (Jinnah Super), above Gourmet Bakery, near north-west corner of Markaz. A very nice, up-market restaurant specializing in seafood. Popular with expats and well-off locals. Nice ambiance, a variety of well-prepared fish, fish & chips and a fish burger. Decent cheesecake and chocolate cake for dessert. Main courses Rs300 - Rs800.
- Namak Mandi, 51 Bhittai Road, F7/1 (Opposite to Telenor Head Office). Only for dinner. Set in a pleasant garden behind a large guest house. Pakistani food, traditional music playing, aimed firmly at expats. Service is slow but the food good. Drinks available at a price (Rs2,500 for a bottle of wine). There is a better restaurant with the same name in Rawalpindi
- Signature, 47a Bhittai Rd (opp. F7 markaz), 051 2651804-5. lunch & dinner.Opened in May 2011 and after a patchy start this place has found its feet. Tastefully decorated house restaurant offering an excellent choice in European dishes - try the Mediterranean chicken with olives, prunes & sun-dried tomatoes or the chocolate hazelnut timbale for dessert. The resident pianist adds to the occasion. Together with the Polo Lounge this is one of Islamabad's best restaurants. Can bring your own drinks. Recommended. mains from Rs600.
- Papa Sallis, . F-7 Markaz (Jinnah Super), Very well known place (Please ask any local shop for directions) for steaks and pizzas since 1991. Prices are quite high for Pakistani standards, but from a Western perspective still very cheap.
- Kitchen Cuisine / KC Grill, 81 Bhittai Rd (just off the southeast corner of Jinnah Super), 7/4 051 2655712. F. Adequate cafe restaurant with a nice terrace - serves European and Pakistani cuisine at reasonable prices (mains Rs 400). There is a popular bakery with really fresh and tasty bakery products downstairs, including chocolate fudge cakes, cheese cakes and low cholesterol items. Made to Order services are also available.
- Ye Olde Hangout, F-7 Markaz (Jinnah Super), behind Shell petrol station. A wonderful little coffee shop/sheesha bar. They serve a small selection of global and local food, and play sexy Bollywood and Egyptian videos. Posters of Jimi Hendrix, 50 Cent, Marilyn Manson and Angus Young are on the walls. One room is all men. Another for mixed couples and ladies only. No alcohol of course, but lots of cigarettes and a good tea selection.
- Civil Junction, F-7/3 markaz (Gol Market) offers good coffee and an interesting array of drinks and 'mocktails'. Light snacks are also offered along with coffee and drinks. The place offers occasional live music from upcoming local bands, making it a popular hangout with the youth of the city.
- Hot Spot, One of the few places that Islamabad can claim as theirs first. F-7/3 (Gol Market) also offers a great ice-cream place. Though the menu has now increased from just ice-cream to milkshakes, pies, sandwiches and plenty more, the place still has the feel of an ice-cream joint. With a unique, rather artistic decor, Hot Spot is a must visit for any first time traveler to Islamabad.
- Pizza Hut, F7 Markaz (near Saeed Book Bank), 051 111 241 241. Not the same as worldwide, but still better than a few.
- Clique Cafe, House 10-A, Street 13, Sector F-7/2, 051-2608965. 12 noon - 11PM. Opened in 2010 this place is still trying to establish itself. Its Euro-Russian menu and tasteful modern décor make it worth seeking out. Mains Rs. 500.
- Olive Garden, Street No.4, Goll Market, F7/3, 051-2610914. lunch until late.Set in the wealthy back streets of F7 the Olive Garden is popular with wealthy Pakistani's and is a great place to people watch on a weekend. Food is variable, but the setting is nice, with a fire pit in winter, and plenty of sheesha. Not part of the American chain. Rs. 500 for mains.
- Kabul Restaurant, F-7 Markaz (Jinnah Super), . 11AM-10PM. This large restaurant just off the markaz serves up tasty kebabs and Afghani specialties, and is usually very crowded with locals and expats at dinner time. Mains Rs 75-200.
- Seoul Club Korean Restaurant, House 21a, Street 55, F7/4, 03015063354.7-11PM. Hidden away in F7's back streets is this house-converted-to-restaurant run by a Korean women. Most other diners are Korean expats craving a taste of home. Most Korean favourites available, including dolsot bibimbap, and piles of Kimchi. No 'cook at your table' bulgolgi however. Moderately expensive. Alcohol available, but ask the price before ordering.
- China Town Restaurant, Street 55, F-8/4. A large and popular Chinese restaurant. It offers Sichuan Cuisine with Firepot as one of its specialities coupled with the modern blend where the waiters use PDAs to take orders. China Town enjoys a very loyal patronage from its customers. The restaurant is being re-located to a beautiful 8,000 sq ft building on Street 55, F-8/4. It features a professional kitchen in the basement, a beautiful lounge on ground floor, a fine dining hall on the first floor, and a roof top sitting with a fantastic view of Margallas.
- Dumpling Zhang Chinese Restaurant, 32a Street 55 F8/4 (opp. the Christian church (there is no sign outside, just a security guard)), 051 2853623. 7-10PM.Low key Chinese restaurant set in a suburban house, run by a Chinese family. Food is more authentically Chinese in comparison to the Pak-China food you get elsewhere in Islamabad, demonstrated by the fact that half your fellow diners will be from China. The potions are designed to share between 2 so remember to order half sizes. An added plus is that this place will serve you a cold beer with your food (Rs300 a bottle). Mains Rs300-700. Dumplings are especially good value at Rs300 for 30.
- Patio Lounge, House no. 1, street 17, F-8/3. Opened in May 2011 this place is still finding its feet. Tastefully furnished garden with wall mounted fans keeping down the summer heat. Menu is standard western fare, although the steaks are considerably better than average. Also serves Sheesha as a digestive.
- The House of Bombay, 18 Margalla Rd, 051 831 2705/6. F8/3. Opened July 2011 this place is establishing itself as the place to go for decent south Asian cuisine. What separates HoB from the rest is that everything is made fresh and has a real home cooked taste to it and the cooking oil is kept to a minimum. Mains Rs700. Can bring your own drinks.
- Tahzeeb, 35 Park Road, F8/1, 051 2856513. lunch & dinner, closed Mondays. Recently opened high-end restaurant serving European and Pakistani cuisine. Good food (try the caramelised steak) good service, a pleasant garden and local art on the walls makes this place worth seeking out. Has a clothing boutique upstairs also. Mains Rs500-800.
- LA balto Sheesha bar it has a very good offering flavours as well as snacks pizzas too.. a great place to visit
- 19th House 6-A, Street 69, F8/3. 0345-5236578 / 051-8356280/1. Another Chinese restaurant set in a house, this one with a Shezhuan flavour. The chef, Ami Qin speaks both English and French.
- Urban Lounge Street 21, F8/2. A new coffee house opened up in 2011, this joint caters mostly to youngsters with its fairly budgeted and western food. The desserts are definitely worth a try and with ample seating at indoor sheesha allowed, its more than 90% of the time occupied!
- McDonald's is situated in the south-west corner of the F-9 Park. It also has a drive through service. Very popular with families.
- Italian Oven, F10 Markaz, facing the Park, 051 2103133. Pleasant, locally orientated Italian restaurant - extensive menu covering pizzas, pasta, meat and seafood - and all done pretty well (except the pizzas). Nice views of the F9 park from the upstairs seating area. mains Rs 400.
- Lebanese Cafe, Tariq market f10/2 (just off street 14). Run by a Lebanese family, the cafe restaurant is the perfect excuse to delve in to the back streets of F10 - the setting is nothing fancy, but the food is excellent, and very good value. Home deliveries available. No sheesha however.
- Eclipse Cafe, 3a Street 65, F10/3 (right at the end of Street 65), 0300 5277638. Young hip hangout in the back streets of F10 - menu is simple but tasty, with many European favourites. Excellent rooftop sheesha bar. This is a popular place for Islamabad's young and wealthy. Open until late. mains Rs 350.
- Rock Bistro, Street 11a F10/2 (off Street 8), 051 2547764. Open until late.Worth visiting just to see the custom made building. Nestled in the suburban sprawl of F10 this place offers a varied menu covering many cuisines, and doing a pretty good job at most of them. One of the more memorable places to eat in the city and certainly worth seeking out. Mains Rs 450+.
- MJ's Specialities, MJ Plaza, Street 14, Tariq Market, F10/2 (from F10 Markaz take double road towards F11, last traffic lights turn right, then first right to street 14 and you are there), 051 2210371. 8AM-midnight. Specialist European style bakery, pizzeria and BBQ. Excellent food, specialty breads, cheesecakes, gelato ices. Outside lawn for BBQ.
- MJ's Coffeehouse, Street 14, Tariq Market, F10/2 (above MJ's Specialties), 051 2210371. 8AM-midnight. A little gem of a coffeehouse serving the best coffee this side of Gloria Jeans in F6. Serves proper coffee in tasteful surrounds, and a great collection of cakes to boot - just a shame its all the way out in F10 Espresso Rs90.
"Inkantray" (Incantare) a not-so-nice place for hangout with friends. Mostly for shisha. In basement of Pizza Hut.
- Masoom's Cafe, Shop 6-9, Hassan Arcade, F11 Markaz, 051 2228300.8AM-midnight. Restaurant, cafe, patisserie - modern decor, plasma screens, surprisingly good food and service - has a nice outdoor area for sheesha and snacks also. mains Rs.400- Rs.700.
- PappaSallis (Lord Trade Center, F11 Markaz). 051 210-1136. Recently opened (Feb 2011) sister branch of the longstanding Italian restaurant. Pakistani flavoured Italian food. Mains Rs600.
- Des Pardes A sister restaurant of the popular Pakistani eatery in Saidpur village. Someone has clearly spent some money on opening this place - set in a huge tent in E11 markaz. Excellent Pakistani food, but you may find it quiet on a weeknight.
- Blak Lounge, E11/3 Markaz, 051-2228463. Overly stylish sheesha lounge and cafe, very much the modern face of Pakistan and a place to go to meet the hip, young and rich.
- Homestyle Cafe / Funky Bake swish cafe in E11 markaz, has a great little made-to-order cupcake setup (Funky Bake) attached.
- Melody Food Park In Melody G-6 Markaz is a newly opened food area with variety of food to choose from with some nationally famous restaurant names having outlets there. Plenty of BBQ and traditional Pakistani food with a variety of fresh fruit juices to choose from.
- Rakaposhi, pastry shop at the Serena, has some of the best coffee and pastries in Pakistan. Worth a visit if you just want to relax or get some work done. The Serena also offers wireless internet, so, it is an ideal place to sit and get some work done if you like.
- Kamran Restaurant In Aabpara, G-6/1 is also a famous place for traditional Pakistani cuisine.
- Real French Bakehouse At back side of Melody food park shop 9 block 21 is one of the leading baker of Islamabad producing a variety of French and local products with its expert team in a hygienic way. Cell 051-2603390.
- Nirvana Cafe and Spa, popular spot with 'ladies who lunch', business meet and greets and devotees of the tuna sandwich. House 18, Street 90, G-6/4. The thai red curry is good.
- Khyber Afghan Restaurant, Street 55, G9/4. Pleasant local Afghan restaurant set in a small house, and a good excuse to explore the back streets of little-visited G9. Can eat well for under Rs. 500 per person.
- Tapas, Shop No. 1, Jehangir Market G-9/2, 051-2854455. 11AM-12PM.Quality fast food. Pathooras, burgers, french fries, shawarma, roll paratha, salads, pastas and soups.
- Sufi Restaurant
- Afghani Tikka House
- Tehzeeb Bakery
- Karachi Company. also known as G-9 Markaz is the most populous and busiest market in the whole city. Here you can find anything ranging from cars to ovens to clothes at the cheapest of prices. Some food outlets are only reserved to this place and one should not miss out the Afghani Chips or the Aloo wala Paratha sold here by street vendors. People here are generally very hospitable but since this is one of the more slightly dangerous localities, you should stay on your toes 24/7 here. Otherwise it is a very safe place with a famous Chicken Corn Soup vendor on the back side and just in front of it in the sector G-9/1 street 32 I&T centre market you can have the famous Afghani Tikkas.
- Masoom's cafe, Anique Arcade, I-8 Markaz, 051-3029922. Masoom's Cafe, right beside Bank Al-Habib, a small & pleasant cafe and pâtisserie, a place for lunch or a coffee rather than a dinner. And it also has a large variety of Hot Beverages.
- Habibi, Executive Center, I8 markaz, 051-4448222. Open until late. Upscale Afghan style BBQ restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating - look for the big red sign
- Hot Plate, Shop 8, City Arcade, I8 markaz, 051 4862331. lunch & dinner.Notionally Italian - in pleasant dark wood surroundings. Certainly I8's nicest looking restaurant. Serves a range of salads, pastas, steaks and sea food. Worth making the trip to I8 for. Mains Rs400-500.
- Haleem Ghar, I-8/1 Mughal Market, 051 4432606. Pakistani Cuisine Low Range.
- Red Onion Chain of Restaurants Blue Area, opposite the Saudi Pak Tower building stands one of the oldest restaurants in Islamabad. Established in 1991 with buy one, get one free pizza. Wide range of cuisines i.e. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Pakistani & Continental. Prices are moderate, ambiance is modern & service is friendly
- Lasania Restaurant, 66 West Junaid Plaza, Blue Area (Ph: 227-3200, 287-2200). This place is very nicely decorated and is also situated in a very nice location. They have a huge selection of BBQ, Pakistani and Chinese food items on the menu. Their food is not extremely spicy like most other places.
- Cinnamon, Beverley Center, Blue Area, 051 2206988. One of Islamabad's best European restaurants, serving a range of continental pastas, salads and meat dishes, as well as a range of refreshing mocktails. The décor is absolutely superb, with black and white motifs and photographs, and the service and quality of food equally good. The perfect place to have a quiet albeit slightly expensive dinner. [www]
- The Cave, Awan Arcade, Blue Area (near the eastern end of Jinnah Avenue, north (F6) side), 051-2270595. lunch & dinner. Curious restaurant in a basement with a plasticy cave theme going on. Food is acceptable, with large portions of European (steakhouse) and Pakistani food. More curious than the restaurant itself is the fact that this place tops the Tripadvisor listings for Islamabad. Mains around Rs400-500.
- Tehzeeb Bakers, F-6 Blue Area, Driving along the main road in blue area, with pizzas, bakery products, rich creamy milk ice creams etc. are available. A big range to choose from. Although it is a fairly big store, there are no eat-in arrangements. Right next to Tehzeeb Bakers is a place called Safilo, which offers a wide range of ice-creams, milkshakes and juices. They pride themselves in their cleanliness.
- Subway is a franchise of the international Subway and has two branches, one in Blue Area, and the other one in F11-Markaz. It offers subs and salad.
- Domino's Pizza, Block H, Blue Area, 051 111 366 466. Take away, dine in and free home delivery.
- Usmania Restaurant In Blue Area is also a famous place for traditional Pakistani cuisine.
- Bolan Saltish Afghani and Pakistani restaurant, known for its Khadda Sajji.
- Jahangir's, Masco Plaza, Blue Area is one of the most popular local restaurant chains. Its delicious local or 'desi' items and barbecue are a treat, garnering it lots of appreciation from food lovers. Known for their Pakistani and Indian specialties.
- Bar-B-Q Tonight (Bar-B-Q Tonight), Shorab Palaza,Block 32, FazlL-e-haq Road Islamabad. (on the G6 side of the Blue area, off A.K.M Fazl ul Haq road), 051-8317131, 051-8317132. 12-24. Popular new BBQ restaurant, with consistently good food and a varied menu of Pakistani favorites. Same owners as the branch in Karachi. Big rush on dinner timings. Price ranges from 300-700 per person. Free delivery available. 300+.
- Kanpai, Street 4, Diplomatic enclave (near Standard Chartered Bank). Expensive but not bad Japanese restaurant, and one of the few restaurants in the Diplomatic enclave outside of an Embassy and hence open-to-all. Serves a range of Bento boxes, tempura, noodles, sushi and sashimi, and in all fairness the food is fairly authentic (the owner/manager is Japanese). Can bring your own drinks also. set meals from Rs. 1,000.
- Cordon Rouge, Embassy Road, Diplomatic Enclave. Lunch & dinner. Something of a diplomatic enclave institution. Cordon Rouge serves up authentic French cuisine in softly lit surroundings. A bit pricey but decent food. Extensive wine list.
Saidpur Village / Margalla hills
- Des Pardes (In Saidpur village off the Margella Road), .lunch & dinner. A great choice for top notch Pakistani food - evenings are best when Saidpur is illuminated with subtle floodlighting, and you can relax on the terrace and admire the architecture. Can be very busy on weekends so reserving a table is recommended - the parking can be chaotic also. Mains Rs.400.
- Polo Lounge, Saidpur village, 051 282-1677. Decent fine dining restaurant, with a long established sister restaurant in Lahore. European menu, excellent steaks, professional chef, drinks available. The upstairs terrace is wonderful, if a bit chilly in winter. Reservations recommended. mains Rs.700+.
- Monal, Pir Sohawa (Road to Pir Sohawa starts from 7th Avenue at junction of F6 and F7), . Set at an altitude of 3900 ft on Margalla Hills, Monal offers a spectacular view of the city. It is the largest restaurant in Pakistan in terms of seating capacity
- Chicken Shack - in Pir Sohawa about 5 km past Monal a simple BBQ place with great views to the north and south. Mains about Rs300.
- Kinara, Jinnah Road, Bani Gala (On the southern bank of Rawal Lake. From Rawal Chowk take Park Road, after 2km turn left following signs for Bani Gala, follow this road for about 1km.). A lovely setting on the southern banks of Rawal Lake, and offering great sunset views over the water. Its all outdoor and set in a garden, with a few gazebos to shade you from the sun. Food is BBQ & standard Pakistani, and good value also. You may want to bring a map if its your first visit as its a little tricky to find.
- Red Onion Near the dam on the southern end of the lake. Standard food but a nice setting on the lakeside, with views across the water to Islamabad.
- Lake View Park Restaurant is the only place to eat on the northern part of the lake. Which is a shame as the place is over 1 km from the waters edge and the food is overpriced for what you get.