ISLAMABAD: Islamabad’s reputation as the most expensive city in Pakistan also includes its food, with most restaurants and even roadside food stalls charging up to 40 percent more than other major cities like Lahore and Karachi.
But if you look hard enough, you can also find some of the capital city’s most delicious bites for under Rs250 ($1.5).
From on-brand offerings of burgers to classic cart snacks like samosas and on-the-go sweets to beat the heat, Arab News visited the most iconic food spots and sampled some great eats for under Rs250. Be sure to try them out this Eid Al-Adha!
Fried to perfection in a vat of hot oil, Bengali’s samosas are golden and crunchy and filled with savory minced beef or herby, spicy potatoes. With a plate of five available for only Rs120, the roadside Bengali Samosa joint in the upscale F6 sector has remained a fan favorite for decades, earning it the title of Islamabad’s best spot for budget eats.
Nagina Burger Point
What do you get when you combine a fast cooked egg with a smashed shami kebab, crispy cabbage, and secret condiments inside a toasted bun? A day-long line of customers. With a unique combination of textures — cold cabbage, a freshly made egg and a juicy kebab squished between a crispy, toasted bun — Nagina has been offering a crowd-pleasing take on Pakistan’s own ‘anda shami’ burger for at least the last decade. Burgers start at Rs120 rupees a piece.
What could be unique about french fries, you might ask? Well, in Islamabad, the fries – commonly known as ‘Afghani chips’ – are wavy, limp and have been served with a heavy dose of chaat masala and garlic mint chutney at markets around the city for the last two decades. They get their name from the early Afghan settlers in the city who sold them on street corners and we can bet you won’t find anything similar in other cities such as Lahore or Karachi, much better known for their food scenes. Plates of this Islamabad institution start at Rs50 for the smallest size and go up to Rs200 or more.
A tuck shop attached to a gas station in the upmarket F-7 sector has for 15 years been churning out strawberry, blackcurrant, lime, mint and green apple slushies for Islamabad’s residents. You can get yours too — for just Rs120 a glass.
Just a stone’s throw away from the bustling Karachi Company in G-9 sector is Islamabad’s most iconic grab-and-go burger shop: Saddam Corner. The joint’s signature Afghani burger has become an Islamabad institution: sausages (either beef or chicken), French fries, cabbage, onions, chilli tomato chutney and mint chutney inside Afghani bread. The burger, which is more like a wrap, starts at Rs170.
Taimoori Roll Paratha
The question “where can you get the best paratha roll in the capital?” is usually answered with three letters: TRP! Taimoori Roll Paratha, or TRP as it is popularly called, in Islamabad’s F-10 sector, is the go-to place for paratha rolls, which combine delicious marinated barbequed meat and chutneys inside flaky, soft parathas. TRP estimates they sell over 400 rolls a day, with prices starting at Rs170. The chicken cheese garlic mayo paratha roll is to die for!
Mashallah Chaat in one of Islamabad’s main shopping areas, the Super Market, has hands down been serving the best samosa chaat in the city for the past 14 years. The first layer is two potato samosas bursting with filling and the second is piping-hot chickpeas. A crunch of cabbage and onions is sprinkled on top, and a drizzle of the joint’s signature mint and tamarind chutney finishes the job. At Rs120, the snack is possibly Islamabad’s best cheap meal for both its price and taste.