While there are many restaurants in Islamabad that offer exquisite menus, here are the best eats that can be found in the city that complement the festive season.
Ever since the opening of a famous fast food chain in Islamabad a few years ago, the need for new ventures in the culinary world was recognized by entrepreneurs in the city. Since then, a plethora of cafes and restaurants have sprung up in different corners, revolutionizing the capital and reviving the city from its long state of slumber. Islamabad is gradually on its way to becoming the hub of business minds focused on the food and hospitality sector. While the city is a long way from both Karachi and Lahore in this sector, the new eateries are merely a glimpse of what we see the city could be like in the coming years.
Today, Islamabad has some delicious hidden gems scattered across the city that offer a wide variety of cuisines catering to a diverse audience. With winter being a festive season, the people of this part of Pakistan are always looking to celebrate good food. Even though there are many restaurants in Islamabad that offer exquisite menus, our focus is on the best eats that complement the festive season.
Here is the ultimate guide to winter eats in Islamabad…
Shahi Tukra and Karak Chai from Nukar Pe Tukar
Winter is incomplete in Islamabad without a mandatory stop at the dhabba-style cafe, Nukar Pe Tukar. Located in F-7 Markaz, it is the go-to spot for a strong cup of karak chai and shahi tukray to warm the soul in the chill of winter. Their extensive menu features desi items like gulab jamuns, jalebis, pakoras, aloo paratha, papri chaat, bhel puri, samosa platter and much more.
The outdoor seating at the cafe is an added plus, allowing the customers to enjoy nostalgic desi tunes and beautiful fairy lights for an after-hours hangout. The bistro is open late, till 3:00 AM, and will set you back PKR 99 for a cup of Karak Chai and PKR 199 for a single serving of Shahi Tukra. Nukar Pe Tukar is great for large crowds.
The Mexican Chateaubriand Medium Rare Beef Steak from Steaks by CFU
Tucked away in F-7, Steaks by CFU is the Islamabad chapter of the coveted eatery from Karachi. For those seeking fine dining to satiate the soul, this is the perfect place. The best dish on the menu is the Mexican Chateaubriand Beef steak in medium rare. The meat is soft, tender and melts in the mouth. They have a variety of cuts to choose from and three flavours to suit your fancy.
The steakhouse also has a variety of sides and salads to accompany the main course, including buttered balsamic mushrooms with cheddar cheese, parmesan truffle roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables with honey and balsamic glaze, creamed spinach, kimchi and cucumber pickle. Among them, the roasted potato and creamed spinach are definite crowd pleasers.
Fair warning: Steaks by CFU is a pricey spot to eat, there is no outdoor sitting, requires prior reservation and will damage the pocket by at least PKR 3600 per head.
Sunday Brunch and the Almond Chocolate Croissant from Loafology
Located in the heart of Islamabad, Blue Area, Loafology is Islambad’s favourite eatery. It offers a great selection of bakery and breakfast items and nothing tastes as good as an almond chocolate croissant in winter, with hot cup of joe on the side. The pastry is warm, buttery and has just enough chocolate to alleviate its richness while the almonds lend texture. Additionally, Loafology is a great place to have Sunday brunch in cold winter mornings. Their menu includes a variety of organic omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toasts and more. However, the star on the brunch menu is the Smoked Norwegian Salmon with poached eggs in a sourdough bread under the ‘Breakfast in Bread’ section. The almond chocolate croissant and the Breakfast in Bread will set you back PKR 625 and PKR 1250 respectively.
Loafology is a great place for conversation and to enjoy the winter season from within a cozy warm interior. It has a variety of healthy options, including a Keto menu to choose from as well. Some of their offerings include a wide selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, coffees, and bakery items.
The Lamb Burger from Rustic
Rustic, located in E-7, offers cozy seating and lamb burgers with a side of sweet potato fries done right. The burger is soft and juicy with a whooping 250 grams of meat and creamy spinach. It has been paired with homemade sesame seed buns. Their menu also has a beef option which is delicious and a chicken option, which is not particularly a strong contender. Other items include steaks such as the Tomahawk, Fillet Mignon, Chicken Roulade, a selection of sandwiches and fries.
While the eatery is definitely one of the top ones in Islamabad, it is not good for large crowds of people owing to their limited sitting capacity, selective menu and hefty prices. A single lamb burger with sides will set you back PKR 1350. Furthermore, it is a no-go for vegetarians or chicken-lovers. However, for a meat-lover, it is paradise.
Carrot Walnut Cake from Mocca
Mocca offers a variety of desserts and savoury items on their menu and is popularly recognized as a top coffee spot. However, the Carrot Walnut Cake is one of the most delicious offerings on their menu for the winter season. It is low-fat and makes for the perfect afternoon dessert with tea or coffee. A single slice costs PKR 415 and is worth every penny. Other offerings on the menu include a scrumptious Sunday brunch and delightful banana walnut cake. Located both in the Beverly Centre and Kohsar Market, Mocca is great for quick afternoon and evening hangouts. It is a great spot for health-conscious customers as it offers a range of salads, sandwiches and low-fat, low-carb desserts on the menu.