When you’re stuck in a cubicle from nine in the morning to five in the evening listening to Tariq complain about how his wife couldn’t get her hands on the new Elan lawn prints, you’re bound to crave for a stress breaker. Arei yaar koi chai pila do! Is the only thing that comes to mind when you crash on the sofa after along, boring, tiresome day at work and that is why Karachi , in a new era of restaurant revolution, is now, bustling with coffee and tea joints, up-scale and small neighborhood cafes and the best edition to food joints: street style take-aways and cafes. So, for those who love to enjoy a cup of tea and a scrumptious snack as they catch up with friends in the evening here’s a list of the some of the best food places to try with your bhai log for some ‘sutta and chill’.
For The Love of Coffee–FLOC
Location: Zamzama Area DHA Phase 5
This restaurant is the perfect place if you want the authentic coffee experience. The menu is mainly contemporary western style, and has a lot of healthy options and yummy salads. Boasting themselves as the introducers of “nitro” coffee in Pakistan, this café is known for its cozy ambiance, the wide array of caffeinated drinks it serves in hot and cold, even flavored brews and their breakfast. Their menu is a little limited so if you’re looking for some serious pait pooja, you might find that the sandwiches, tacos and steaks are too light. Limited it might be but it very diverse with a fusion of middle eastern, European and continental flavors. Rest assured the ambiance, nitro brews for those who are truly the caffeine addicts, the lemon blueberry cheesecake, The KETO options and coconut and almond milk lattes for the lactose intolerant are delicious enough on their own to draw a large crowd. The place is quite but not silent and I had a pleasant experience catching up with my friends.
The eatery is not too pricey compared to other restaurants in the vicinity and has a distinctive menu where you can choose from steaks, meatballs, omelets (breakfast is served all day), butter basted salmon, KETO rice and tacos. If you’re in the mood for delightful, flavor loaded, hearty food with an excellent cup of coffee, this is your place.
Location: Phase 6 DHA
Who doesn’t love Espresso? Anyone who has tried their coffee and waffles would not dare deny that Espresso’s caffeine brews are a salve to the soul after a tiring day. Although not famous for their pasta, their sandwiches have never disappointed and always impressed. The stars of the savory menu are definitely the Wasabi Roast Beef Sandwich, Grilled Chicken Ciabatta and the Herb Grilled Fish. That’s right; you’ve got beef, chicken and fish to choose from in a café’s menu which makes the place a delightful choice for a nice evening.
You can enjoy a scrumptious meal and chat freely in the amiable environment with the aroma of roast coffee wafting in the air. For dessert, you have to try the waffles because they’re some of the best I’ve had. The crunchy waffle, with a scoop of ice cream and the aromatic, bitter, creamy cappuccino is the perfect comfort food on a night out with friends while you rant about the workload your boss has put on you. The prices are comparable to other café’s of the same stature and offering the same menu, but Espresso’s coffee brews set them apart from their contemporaries and make the money spent worth it. Since the motive is to have a relaxing evening, this eatery will not disappoint you. (you can even enjoy a good coffee date)The ambiance is friendly, open and you can see a lot of other people chilling with their gangs which offers a nice reprieve from the monotonous mood in the office.
Location: 5th Commercial Street Phase 6 DHA
With its motto of “Peeyu magar pyar sei” Chai Wala is one of the many café al frescos that have brought a twist to the traditional dhaba style chai and snack joints found throughout Pakistan’s largest city. There is a modern, funky twist in the food, ambiance and the colorful, truck art merchandise that the modern dhaba sells. Sticking true to its name, their specialty is tea and parathas (something the traditional chai walas always sell). There are around 21 different varieties of paratha and different dips so you have a mouth watering array to choose from. Their best sellers are the Zafran chai, Elaichi chai and the Kashmiri chai. For the weight watchers there are many different kahwas (Suleymani, Peshawari, Pudeena) and artisanal teas to choose from like the Black Arctic Fire ( a fruity, spicy blend) and Tulsi Cinnamon Kapow (cinnamon, honeybush, fennel and cardamom infused).
Chai Wala offers a sort of desi take on the evening snack spots that café’s like Espresso provide. With chairs set out in the open, people enjoy the weather, the bustle of the city, the crowd’s laughter and board games brought along with them. The beautifully painted tables lost their appeal when we bit into the crispy parathas that were the definition of desi food on point. The chicken and cheese paratha, qeema paratha, chicken achar and qeema achar paratha were the crowd’s favorites. And that is not all, once we had thoroughly enjoyed our spicy, greasy, crispy parathas with sour cream and green chutney, we had the delight of munching on nutella paratha and meetha paratha for dessert. That’s the beauty of Chai Wala, they have whole heartedly embraced that paratha cannot go wrong with any flavor or topping. Paratha zindabad! The place serves breakfast style anda paratha too, so if you have a craving for eggs in the evening, go ahead, and devour that anda paratha with achar and elaichi chai.
Light on the wallet and serving fresh food, the only inconvenience is the outdoor seating when the weather is too hot or humid, but after a light shower this place is perfect for an evening filled with laughter, desi khana and chai.
Fibbi Tea and Talk
Location: Saba Avenue
Serving the same type of desi goodness as Chai Wala, Fibbi tea is another great spot to have a good cup of tea with a paratha or a cup of coffee with a light snack when you’re too tired to cook at home. The place is usually packed in the evening, but they have indoor and outdoor seating. Fibbi boasts about its special patti which is found nowhere else in the world. They might be right about that because their devotion to our nation’s love for tea is visible when the steaming cup of Fibbi zaffrani chai arrives on the table. As soon as you take a sip, you start to see the world through the warm fuzziness of a rose-gold, creamy brown haze of the impeccable, perfect tasting chai. Perfect concoction in a cup? A chai lover’s dream? Hell yeah!
A good combination with the chai is the chicken chutney roll and the aloo BBQ chicken paratha. The menu isn’t only limited to parathas and chai, there is pasta, burgers, sandwiches and even soup to heal your soul, but the specialty is chai and desi food. So next time you have a “chai pani ka mood hai yaar”, try this place and you’ll definitely have a good time.
Our nation has been bound by the captivating taste and comfort of chai: this is a fact. Chai to us is ambrosia and that is what Chotu Chaiwala has embraced. A smoker friendly, bustling, dhaba cum young people’s favorite hangout spot, Chotu Chaiwala is the right place if you’re looking for s pot to play a game of cards or luddo with the gang and enjoy a karak cup of tea and the love offered by paratha.
Their doodh patti is a soul comforter in the winter and coupled with the maple syrup paratha can dispel all depression from your life as you relish in its yummy goodness. Though the parathas offered at Chotu’s tend to be a little doughy at times, if you ask the servers explicitly that you want your paratha extra crispy they usually oblige. The pizza paratha is a delight but the real winner was the hunter beef and chicken achaari paratha (the chicken stuffing was a little less). For those who love shakes along with their main course, Chotu’s has many options to satisfy your cravings, too. After our pleasant paratha party, we had Chotu’s kehwas and were not disappointed. Chotu’s ambiance sets it apart from its contemporaries as it’s more popular with the youth than as a family spot and for the groups that love late game nights, Chotu’s provides the place and the mazeidar khana. So, next the squad gets together for shugal, hit up Chotu’s for some chai and paratha.