Karachi, Pakistan bleg

Guidebooks on Karachi, at least in English, are rather hard to come by.  So what should I see and do, and where should I eat?  I thank you all in advice for your usual sage counsel.

Comments

Get a driver. Make sure you don't depend on taxi's at any point. Arranged drivers will take you to wherever and wait till you're done.

Kolachi for food
French beach, 30kms out but interesting
Clifton, upmarket area.

Btw, Vice did a brilliant special on Karachi a couple of years back before things calmed down. Not sure if you'd risk it but it would be interesting to see what those areas are like now.

https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/the-vice-guide-to-karachi-full-length/55db85d32b68305332db7176

Dhobi ghat is a must see for a libertarian minded person. Been a while since I was there so verify it is still going.

Download an app called Careem to get around, it was bought by Uber recently which will also work well. Lonely Planet Pakistan has a section on Khi but a bit out of date.

BarBq Tonight Karachi is an institution. Must go: https://bbqtonight.com/locations-menu/

You want to go to the one in Clifton

I second the BBQ Tonight suggestion

Based on the video (I've sadly never been), Noorani Kabab House seems a nice fit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB7yVBBYTUI

Just wing it. You're a smart guy who traveled the world many times over.

I grew up in Karachi. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I'll do my best or put you in touch with those you know.
Cheers & have fun!

what should I see and do, and where should I eat?

Not a local but will offer my suggestions.

Clifton beach, Empress market, Frere Hall, the Mohatta Palace museum and the Quaid E Azam (M A Jinnah) mausoleum are the usual tourist destinations. Port Grand is a mall by the sea with a lot of eating options where lots of families hang out.

If you want the more authentic street food experience, this is a decent overview :

https://migrationology.com/pakistani-street-food-karachi/

And these guys offer tours:
https://www.traveljanab.com/tours/local-s-favourite-street-food-tour-54867

A guide to museums:
https://theculturetrip.com/asia/pakistan/articles/the-best-museums-in-karachi-pakistan/

Cafe Lazeez - Burns Road - Famous for Kat-a-kat (minced organ stew)

Recommend reading "Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City" by Laurent Gayer - This book will help you appreciate the ethnic make up of the city (past and present)

A Karachi tidbit you might be interested in

https://twitter.com/shrikanth_krish/status/1165420731603271680

Agree, definitely go to BBQ tonight, you will be the only non-local there, just make sure you sit on the top floor (open roof deck) if it is not too cold

Cold!? Haha, it is hot as hell here right now.

Bbq tonight is certainly one of the most iconic restaurants of Karachi, but, foodwise, it is substandard.

Hang out with some tax collectors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5OYdonzQGQ

(seriously)

and BBQ Tonight for sure. Great place.

I've never been to Karachi but reminds me I've been meaning to send this youtube channel your way. Always thought you'd like it.

He seems to have good Karachi tips. Lots of other amazing videos on his channel--surprisingly rewarding vicarious travel.

The Food Ranger in Karachi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a8jui8oYX0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQvKj2rU5Gk

I haven't done this myself, but I've heard great reviews from a lot of people: https://supersavari.com/

Also check Mohatta Palace, maybe catch a performance at the Arts Council or NAPA (National Academy of Performing Arts).

Also the Itwaar (Sunday) market. It used to be really good and you could find a lot of interesting stuff, but has deteriorated overall. But still interesting and worthwhile.

T2F: http://www.t2f.biz/

Please do not go anywhere Itwaar market; it is an absolute mess with everyone shoving everyone else around, and not to mention the hoarde of flies.

Your best bet is to read the recently published Karachi novel "The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack", and reach out to the author HM Naqvi who lives in the city and really knows where to eat:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Works-Abdullah-Cossack/dp/1611856302/ref=sr_1_3?qid=1568641298&refinements=p_27%3AH.M.+Naqvi&s=books&sr=1-3

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/07/books/review/cheer-up-mr-widdicombe-evan-james-selected-works-of-abdullah-the-cossack-h-q-namvi-theres-a-word-for-that-sloane-tanen.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/18/selected-works-abdullah-cossack-hm-naqvi-review

Missed seeing your Karachi belg earlier... if not too late, a visit to the mangroves is a must (albeit difficult to arrange).

5-star hotel restaurant food is mediocre at best. Better local desi food is easily available at the many places -- Tandoori Hut at Boating Basin is a good local street side option, or the more upscale BBQ Tonight, both offering an extensive local menu besides BBQ tikka and botis. For desi fine-dining, only The East End comes to mind, with a variety of dishes ethnic to Karachi. A bunch of 'chat' options also, from Mirchi Li (at various malls), to Chatkhary and others are worth visiting. Some specific must-have Karachi foods are nihari, py (goot hooves), haleem, brain masala and ka-ta-kat (various parts of goat), most available at Boat Basin. What else does Karachi do better, food-wise, than other cities here? Kabab rolls, try the chicken-garlic-mayo-cheese version. Hanifia hunter beef, ask for the tongue. Pan (beetel leaf), skip the sweet with coconut filling 'meetha' and try the 'saada khusbo' for a direct flavor hit.

Besides food, see if your hosts let you explore parts of the city where tourists don't get to. Old neighborhoods such as Khara-dar (Sea water gate) or Meetha-dar (Fresh/sweet water gate), or former slums(?) such as the Orangi Town. Defence and Clifton don't have much charm, to see the real "life" of Karachi, drive through Bhadarabad, PECHS or Gulshan.

Super Savari Express put together a great food tour through the old parts of the city, showing you the historic buildings. Worth doing, they even organize private tours.

Finally, the Karachi you will get to see depends a lot on who your hosts are and where they think it's safe to go to.

Mangroves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=835ZEByueOU
City by the Sea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GEatGl0zIE
BBQ Tonight
The East End: https://www.facebook.com/the.east.end.karachi

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