If you take a quick glance upon Karachi’s food scene, you will realise that maybe finding healthier food options is easier in the city than finding places that offer vegetarian food. No, having sweet potato fries on the menu doesn’t count. One should be able to have a full vegetarian meal that is delicious and filling – bonus if a menu has more than one dish that is meatless.
If you are a meat lover and are rolling your eyes at this, know this: A recent study claims that Pakistan recorded the second highest increase in the no. of vegetarians in a year. First was Nigeria, and we were followed by Indonesia, Phillipines and Germany.
Now, if there is a substantial number of people who are opting for a more vegetable-based diet, shouldn’t commercially available food options in Karachi catch up?
We did a quick survey and found some options. Note: This is not an exhaustive list and we will keep adding things as we find, so if you have a vegetarian friend, tell them. We got you!
CAFES – MAIN COURSES
1- VEGETABLE THAALI – NAWAB DYNASTY
Legend has it that the minute somebody posts on a food group asking for vegetarian options to have in Karachi, at least 10 people will appear tagging Nawab Dynasty in the comments and for good reason. They actually do have quite a few vegetarian options in the menu. If you are really hungry, just opt for the vegetarian thaali – which has daal, masala aloo, papar, paneer masala, mix sabzi and gulab jamuns. Desi and vegetarian. That’s truly the best combination, innit.
2- KALE & QUINOA SALAD, OPEN FACED VEGGIE SANDWICH – EVERGREEN
Evergreen when it opened, really did a solid one for all the clean eaters out there. I am not a clean eater but did I go to Evergreen and fall in love with the food? Yes I did. With their salad bar, that allows you to customise a bowl and their trio of hummus that every food instagrammer has up on their feed by now – anybody looking for veg options, will feel right at home at Evergreen.
Oh and they have an open faced grilled veggie sandwich too if you don’t want to salad. Also, this glorious grain bowl!
3- ZUCCHINI TACOS – TACOCAT
Love tacos but don’t want meat? Tacocat has a vegetarian option! Actually now they have two. The zucchini tacos with their guac and cheese is great. Crunchy with the much needed burst of flavours that is essential to any taco. The other one is Mo’s mushroom taco – mushrooms sautéed with herbs, pico and fried garlic. This has a slight tangy kick to it but see if this floats your boat.
4- QUINOA BURGER – GARDEN BISTRO
Garden Bistro is a new entrant in the clean eating category. While clean eating by default doesn’t mean vegetarian, you are more likely to find veg options in a space that claims to offer healthy food than in one that doesn’t. We think it’s also probably the first place that does a proper vegetarian burger. This is their quinoa burger and we thought it was pretty good.
5- MAC N CHEESE JACKET POTATO – BABAMOO
Jacket potatoes, topped with your favourite sauces, mac n cheese & slims. It’s a party for one and we don’t mind having no one else over. Just because of the fact that you can select your own toppings, there is really no bad way to have this potato. We opted for a spicy, saucy version. If you are into something like this, then go for it!
6- PESTO PASTA W/ BROCOLLI, SPINACH & MUSHROOMS – AMICHI
We love love love amichi. It lets you customise your pastas and pizzas but you already knew that. Our favourite pasta is actually vegetarian. I go for their fettuccine, in basil pesto sauce with mushrooms, broccoli and baby spinach added as toppings. Oh and grated mozzarella. You can also get ricotta, feta or parmesan if you want. Honestly, this dish is a 10. You won’t even miss meat (if you are not a vegetarian and having this).
7- WHIPPED RICOTTA & MUSHROOMS PIZZA – EASY
This is one of the first thing I loved at Easy. That crispy pizza crust at the edges, the cheese and sauce, the whipped ricotta and mushrooms – this makes for a really satisfying pizza. Sometimes, they are inconsistent but if you catch them at a good day – this makes for one hell of a meal. Worth giving it a shot!
8- DAAL CHAAWAL THAALI – SANIYA’S KITCHEN
Saniya’s KItchen is originally known for their khou suey but they recently launched a desi menu and thankfully, they have an entire thaali that has no meat. You get daal chaawal topped with crispy onions, fried bhindi and papar. It tastes delicious and the options to pick on different things in the thaali will keep you from feeling bored.
9- 3 STEP WOK WITH TOFU – CHOP CHOP WOK
Chop Chop Wok is a much frequented place in Karachi and is known to be consistent with their food. If you are a vegetarian and find your friends always dragging you to CCW, know that you can get their 3 step wok customised to include tofu instead of chicken, beef and prawn etc. They also have stir fried veggies in their starter menu so that could be an option too.
10- VARIOUS ITEMS – CAFEELA
Cafeela is that one place where you won’t find a lot of people checking in when they go but it has definitely made a space for itself with their diverse menu. From palak paneer to karela and from bhindi to kadi pakora – these guys do a brilliant job at making desi vegetarian dishes. There is nothing like home cooked food but Cafeela comes a close second. We don’t have a picture to entice you with but just trust on this!
Oh and don’t forget their shahi tukray. Craving it as I type this at 4am. smh.
11– VARIOUS ITEMS – MIRCHILI
Mirchili is another favourite for people who want to eat out without having to choose between limited vegetarian options in the menu. The various types of gol gappas, chaat, dosas and other south asian snacks will definitely guarantee a fun time. Best way to eat anything at Mirchili is to order a spread! It’s not as pricey as eating out a cafe so that’s a bonus.
12- CREAM CHEESE WONTONS & VEG CHOW MEIN – GOLDEN DRAGON
Ah yes, everyone’s favourite home delivery option. You order a main course for one and what gets delivered is enough to feed at least 3 people. They have a separate, albeit small vegetarian section. You get vegetarian manchurian, chowmein etc. Also, these cream cheese wontons in their appetisers might actually be good too!
CAFES – SNACKS & APPETIZERS
13- SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP – KOEL CAFE
I am probably wrong but I like to think this is one of the best selling items at Cafe Koel. The spinach and artichoke dip will save you from an otherwise boring menu.
14- ALFREDO MUSHROOM FRITES – NO LIES FRIES
Alfredo Mushrooms Frites – I mean. Heart eyes emoji.
Honestly, street food needs no introduction so here are out top picks:
15- CHANNA CHAAT – FLAMINGO
16- HALWA POORI – CAFE CLIFTON
17- DAAL ANDA BUN KEBAB
Overall, we feel like these are solid things to order but this is an area where restaurants can improve what they have on offer. These options are not even half as much as what a meat lover would find in the city and that can be improved.
What else do you think needs to be up on this list? Tell us! 🙂