Apart from food, what’s the one thing that really gets you out of the house for a good time? The ambiance, of course. A restaurant with a great atmosphere and setting really makes all the difference. After a long, tiring day at work you just don’t want any more noise (both mental and literal), and are looking for a place with that not only serves great food, but leaves you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

This just reminds me of old Bollywood movies from the ’80s, when they show a first date scene where the hero takes the leading lady to a quaint place with a white tablecloths and checked red and white runners. The restaurant has very simple tables and chairs and absolutely no hint of aesthetic anywhere inside the restaurant. Yeah, that’s a big no.

The need for an eatery to be fashionable as well is a concept that is spreading rapidly in Pakistan as people are beginning to understand the relation between the two. Every owner and/ or chef has a story to tell, and this is invariably incorporated somehow into their sense of decor and setting. In fact there are some very trendy places in Islamabad that are sure to make you want to stay for just a bit longer. If you haven’t been around the capital lately, allow me to be your guide:

Mocca Coffee

Minimalist is the word here. Mocca Coffee is like a white bride that doesn’t need jhumkas and false lashes to look beautiful and fashionable.

With white interior and cutlery, the cafe charms you with its perfect lighting. (Damn, I want those lamps in my room!).

If you haven’t been here yet, I have a one-word incentive for you: macaroons! Oh, the macaroons. Those pink and green gooey bites of happiness have made a special place in my heart.. (err, stomach).

Mocca Culture trip

The Loft

I remember going to The Loft in a very bad mood. It was one of those days when you keep imploding in rage and everything and everyone gets on your nerves. And lo and behold this place managed to surprise me with it’s very soothing ambiance.

The newspaper wall adjacent to the wooden stairs lead you inside, where you see a nice seating area with white and yellow chairs. A huge vintage clock and elegant lights welcome you in.

I wouldn’t call their food their excellent, but they have ample servings. Two things I can recommend however are their French toast and sandwiches – really good!

the loft

Espresso Lounge (no ‘x’)

I’m so going to judge you if you call it “eXpresso”! Well, you can’t really blame people for calling it that because it has a confusing logo. What confuses them is the ‘x’  from espresso express. Coincidentally, I’ve always been here when it’s raining.

With both an excellent indoors seating area and an equally classy outdoor one, Espresso Lounge is among my favorite places in the city. To their credit, they’ve managed to put together some very clashing styles to make combinations that work and turn out to be surprisingly chic – artistic, even. You’re not going to see a giant black and white striped wall filled with huge clocks and newspaper fabric chairs working so well together anywhere else.

That’s not even the best part. This tasteful and fashionable eatery has amazing food. I’m daydreaming about their steak and bread pudding … while staring sadly at a box of digestive biscuits on my table.


Cannoli by Cafe Soul

A small place with great taste (quite literally). When you enter Cannoli, you’re likely to feel the essence of Italian design and music. With their blue and white chairs and a prominent bookshelf, the place looks very European indeed.

Their food is exceptional. I’m not a big fan of beef burgers (don’t look at me like that!), but their Shroom Burger is one of their most ordered items, and I have to say, I’m a fan as well. As for desserts – their Frasiers and Creme Anglaise should be on your ‘must have’ list.


The Little Eatery

This quaint little spot (yes, it is little), is the perfect place for a yummy breakfast, and has a modern French setting to boot! The floral chairs and bow windows depict a very European sensibility. Even the cutlery is quite English.

The Little Eatery is known mainly for it’s breakfast menu and great burgers, but don’t forget to try their Fruit Teas and variety of smoothies as well. 

The Little Eatery

While we’re talking about interiors and decor, as a final thought, I’d like to say that a basic problem for foodies like me at many places is eating from tiny tables and very tall chairs. If you’re in the business and reading this – please take note.

There’s our list. Did we miss any fashionable place out? What’s your favorite chic spot in the capital? Let us know below.