Karachi is a melting pot of cultures. It is the hub of all things Pakistan. The fast paced life of this metropolitan may seem too much to handle for the newbies, but once you get the hang of it, you are in for a wonderful ride with this city of lights. Karachi is a force to reckon with. Someone famously said that you will hate Karachi if you are there for a few days, but you will fall in love if you stay for 40. Here is a list of 15 most loved Karachi food items that have become its trademark. Read and mark your favorites to enjoy next time you visit Karachi.

The Cuisine Culture of Karachifood culture, pakistani food, desi food

This City by the Sea has a population of 14.91 million people who hail from all parts of Pakistan including Punjab, Kashmir, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Karachi is home to immigrants from Afghanistan as well. In addition to diverse ethnicities, various religious sects such as Aga Khani and Bohri Muslims, the Parsees, the Hindus and the Christians make up for a huge chunk of population. Since Karachi is home to many ethnicities from all over Pakistan, it exhibits a diverse culture which can’t be attributed to one class or creed. From people’s clothing, to their food, and their traditions, everything comes together in harmony when you step out on a street in Karachi.

Karachi saw a huge number of Urdu speaking immigrants pouring in from India and Bengal after the fall of dhaka. Then in the 1980s, a massive influx of Afghan immigrants landed in Karachi to escape war in their country. Karachi exhibits a diverse culture of south asia, the west, middle east, and central asia. This variance and diversity has produced a unique Karachiite culture of its own which gives Karach the status of an international metropolis.

Karachi accepts everyone with open arms. It doesn’t judge, or ask questions. There is only one rule of surviving in Karachi: No matter who you are or where you come from, you gotta hustle.

Must-have Karachi Food Items According to a Die-hard Foodie

The cultural openness and diversity can be seen in Karachi’s food. People of Karachi are adventurous eaters, and eating is one of their favorite hobbies. People here have a matured palate that savors everything from fast food and continental to desi food on the roadside cafes. Karachiites love trying new food, they experiment with spices, and have a penchant for spicy food.  People from all over Pakistan come to Karachi to experience the food, and they surely don’t leave disappointed. Some even say that the lack of hygiene is compensated by the full flavored cuisine Karachi has to offer.

Bihari Tikka from Meerath Kabab HouseBihari Tikka, meat dishes, Meerath Kabab House

Meerath Kabab House is a name that doesn’t need an introduction in Karachi. With branches all over Karachi including areas like Clifton and Nazimabad, this eatery opened up initially in Clifton and became hugely popular for their parathas and barbecue, especially for their bihari tikka. Meerath Kabab House, as the name suggests, specializes in all kinds of kebabs that include their special dhaga kabab, makhan kabab fry, gola kabab, reshmi kabab, malai boti, bihari boti and more.

Dum Biryani from Allah Wala Biryani Center (Gol Market, Nazimabad)Dum Biryani, Allah Wala Biryani Center, Nazimabad Karachi

Situated in the prime location of Gol Market in Nazimabad, Dum Biryani from Allah Wala Biryani Center is a must try when you visit Karachi. They make the dum biryani in chicken, mutton, and beef as per the requirement of the customers. Their rates are economical as well, and they regularly offer special deals on bulk quantities. Their regular beef biryani with drink and raita costs only Rs. 320. In addition to dum biryani, they offer rolls, broast, burgers, sandwiches, desserts, and drinks as well.

Related: Have You Tried These 10 Different Types of Biryani?

Fish from Yadgar (Jamshed Road Near Central Jail)Yadgar, Jamshed road, sea food

Winter calls for fried fish. Yadgar fish offers a wide variety of fish that include mushka fish, white paplet fish, finger fish, dandiya fish, hera fish, and more. Their taste is famous all over Pakistan, and people flock to Jamshed Road only for their fish. Apart from their fish, they also sell chargha, fresh salad, chicken nuggets, fries, various soups and fish nuggets. Their specialty is dhotar fish, dandiya fish, and surmai fish.

Related: Mirchi 360 Islamabad Open for Dine-In

Katakat and Brain Masala from Noorani (Do darya)Katakat and Brain Masala, Noorani, do darya

Noorani is famous for their brain masala and katakat. Their newest branch has just opened at Do Darya. Noorani is one of the oldest names when it comes to eateries in Karachi. They were established in the 1970s. Noorani are the ones who made katakat a household name in Karachi. They are very economical and offer a wide range of items that include everything from fish, to barbecue and more.

Haleem from Mazedar Haleem (Burns Road)Haleem, chicken dish, burns road

Started as a humble stall of haleem, Mazedar Haleem now boasts a chain of restaurants with a retail business on the side. They are a truly inspirational story of realizing the Karachiite dream. If there is any dish that can be called Karachi’s trademark, it would be Mazedar Haleem’s beef haleem. From aroma to color and texture, Mazedar Haleem’s haleem ticks all the boxes. In addition to haleem, they also offer biryani, pizza, barbecue items, nihari and more.

Javed Nihari (Dastagir, F.B.Area)Javed Nihari, mutton dishes, mutton karahi

Javed Nihari is a household name in Karachi. Keeping their line of products minimal so that their quality is not affected, Javed Nihari’s main product is nihari itself. They have two types of nihari available, which are regular nihari and maghaz nihari. They also sell desserts and roti, naan, and sheermal so that the customers can enjoy a complete meal from one place. Their nihari has the most authentic flavor,as they follow a traditional recipe which is many years old.

BBQ by Ghaffar Kabab House (DMS & Port Grand)BBQ, Ghaffar Kabab House, port grand Karachi

Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar Kabab house is another eatery which is centralized around the love of kebabs. They have a complete menu with many tantalizing dishes such as beef nihari, nalli nihari, chicken karahi, chicken tikka, chicken malai boti, beef fried kabab, beef bihari boti and more. Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar Kabab house also offers fast food which include a variety of burgers and wraps that you can eat on the go. They put seasonal fish on their menu as well, and their dessert menu consists of suji ka halwa.

Related: Best Dine-in Restaurants in Lahore

Afghani Boti from Al-Harmain (Sohrab Goth)Afghani Boti, Al-Harmain, beef

Though sohrab goth has a shady reputation of being the hub of drugs and weapons, the food available there gives a softer edge to its claim-to-fame. Sohrab goth is home to hundreds of afghan refugees who came to Pakistan in search of a better future. And who can cook afghani boti better than the afghans themselves, right? If you want to experience the most authentic taste of afghani boti, you should visit Al Harmain.

Murgh Cholay from Ghousia Near City CourtMurgh Cholay, breakfast in Karachi, Ghousia Murgh Cholay

Ghousia Murgh Cholay is a favorite of many as a breakfast or brunch item. Karachi has a bumbling culture of brunches and breakfasts on the weekends. And what is better than a hearty plate of murgh cholay with hot naan on a sunday afternoon? In addition to murgh cholay, Ghousia offers other brunch items such as paye, suji halwa, potato curry and more. If brunches are your thing, you should head to Ghousia near City Court.

Flamingo’s ChaatFlamingo’s Chaat, chat, pappri

No mention of Karachi’s special food can be complete without Flamingo’s chana chaat. Located in defence, Flamingo is the IT chat spot for the desi food lovers in the city. Their chana chaat is truly unique with chatkharay daar imli ki chutney, green chutney, and tomato chutney. The chaat also consists of crispy papdi and zesty onions which takes the flavor to whole another level. Many eateries have tried to replicate the taste, but none has come close to the quality and taste Flamingo provides.

Hunter Beef Burger from Hanifia (multiple locations)Hunter Beef Burger, Hanifia, beef food in Karachi

Hanifia meat master is not a new phenomenon in Karachi. It has been around for decades, and has been delivering food of remarkable quality at economical rates. Meat is their speciality, and they make exceptional good hunter beef items that includes hunter beef burgers as well. They make hunter chicken as well. They offer a wide range of food items that include broasted fish, broasted and stuffed chicken, and various brugers.

Beef Burger from Khan Broast (Near Water Pump)Beef Burger, Beef dishes, desi food

All Karchiites have at least once in their life tasted a Khan Broast food item, because they are the go-to eatery for millions in Karachi. Located in Federal B Area near Water Pump, Khan broast offers the juiciest beef burger in town, and that too, at reasonable rates. If you don’t want to spend a hefty amount of money on a beef burger, then skip going to Hardees and McDonalds and choose Khan Broast!

Chicken Chatni Roll by Hot n Spicy (Khadda Market)Chicken Chatni Roll, chicken roll, chicken dishes

Hot n Spicy is a national household name since it has its branches in Islamabad/Rawalpindi as well. They have the best rolls and wraps in Pakistan. Rooting their food fusion cooking, Hot n Spicy’s rolls are a great blend of desi and fast food flavors. In chicken chutney roll, various options such as chicken cheese chutney, green chutney, and barbecue options are available. They also offer chicken and mutton karahi on the menu.

Dahi Baray by Fresco (Burns Road)Dahi Baray, Foodies, Fresco

Located on Aaram Bagh Burns Road, Fresco Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in town. In addition to delectable bakery items, Fresco offers yummy dahi baray and other street food items as well. The bakery offers strict SOPs to fight the coronavirus, so their bakers and chefs are all vaccinated. Fresco;s dahi baray are as per the taste of Krachiites, who like it spicy, Their baras are made from scratch and they only use the freshest ingredients.

Nashta at Boat BasinNashta , Pakistani food, Foodies

If you want to experience Karachi to its fullest, go for a nashta to Boat Basin on a sunday. The sight is spectacular. The area is teaming with people chatting and having a great time. A great many restaurants and small eateries offer both desi and continental breakfast items that range from omelets and coffees to naan paye and niharis. The seating is comfortable with charpoys and chairs, but if you want to get the best seating place, come early! Alsom don’t forget to try the lassi.

One may hate Karachi because of a number of things including lack of proper hygiene, traffic, noise, pollution, and the weather. But you will always love it for its food, for the company, and for the acceptance it offers. Bilal Tanveer writes in The Scatter Here is Too Great that, “You see, my son, a city is all about how you look at it…We must learn to see it in many ways, so that when one of the ways of looking hurts us, we can take refuge in another way of looking. You must always love the city.”

What is your favorite food of Karachi? Do you have an interesting story about it? Share with us in the comments section below.