Chaaye Khana: Good Food Over Weird Vibes
Garlic Mushroom on Toast is a dish served popularly at Chaaye Khana. This was my only motivation to visit the place. This and the café’s proximity to my office. So yes, over-the-top, fancy toast and an elevator’s trip are the two things that repeatedly take me back to this place.
In a Nutshell:
- A welcome escape from the summer heat
- Dark and gloomy though
- All-day breakfast
- Tuesdays for the ladies (free tea w your meal)
- Sit on the centrally-placed sofas
- Family friendly
On my first visit there, it was a hot day. Still, somehow, the cool, dimly-lit place wasn’t welcoming at first sight. There’s a certain amount of deception in dark and cold places that makes you nervous. The famous mushroom on toast with a Tuesday Special free chaaye (tea) for women (I’m a woman) couldn’t fix this feeling.
Perhaps it’s the architectural design. There are various blind spots, which for some couples are a delight, but for someone who adores open spaces and lighter color palettes, and is generally alone, the whole experience was daunting. Small windows with thick blinds are a must against the merciless sun, but this coupled with corner tables, in turn juxtaposed to small inner walls creates a peculiar ambiance that I am clearly not a fan of.
But don’t be alarmed! The whole of Lahore and now Islamabad has given rave reviews to Chaaye Khana, and the growing chain that it has become. My colleagues’ stubborn persistence keeps me going back to it as well.
I think it’s the food here that allows me to become a pushover. Chaaye Khana’s flavorsome varieties offer the best comfort-food options. From French toast to aaloo ka paratha, the restaurant does everything right. Everything is cooked to perfection, no matter which cuisine. Their tempura prawns appeal as much to the taste palettes of seafood lovers and their spicy crispy-brown pakoras appeal to the desi palette.
Over the last few months, I have grown to like this spot, but I have still long ways to go before coming to terms with just how gloomy it can feel. It dawns on you when you walk in, but somehow the food compensates for it. The food takes over all your sense, it really does. The sandwiches and burgers are ever so soft that the meat just melts right through. There’s always a generous serving of fries, now who wouldn’t love that? I haven’t tried their desserts as yet, primarily because I’ve been repeatedly told that their savories are better.
But what stands out the most, are their beverages. I’ve almost always seen people beyond appeased with whatever they’re sipping; be it a mixed chaaye or Mint Magic. In addition to cold drinks, the caffeine is always strong enough in their chaaye and coffee to awaken you from a deep slumber.
If you are a patriarchy-fighting woman (who isn’t one), drop by on Tuesdays for free chaaye on your order of…anything, really. Now, who wouldn’t want that? I’ll let you in on a little secret, the centrally-placed sofas are the most comfortable, and they give you an illusion of openness.
This highly recommended cafe is located on MM Alam Road which inhabits one of the most sought-out eateries in Lahore. It’s fair to wonder how this place stands the competition, but the minute you delve into your main course at Chaaye Khana, it becomes abundantly clear.