Mall 1: Good Food, Great Street Style
One of the many malls on Main Boulevard, Mall 1 is perhaps the busiest. You never get car parking there, and you always run into someone you know. However, the mall is a relatively recent addition to Lahore’s social scene. A few years ago, this place was well known because of Mocca Café. Now, Mall 1 has about a dozen restaurants and houses several high-end clothing outlets housed within the expansive Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) retail space. I remember the time when there was only an ill-placed dental clinic there, built in the fashion of an English cottage. But now, there are three four more restaurants around this central landmark.
Mall 1 is the ultimate destination for food, shopping, and entertainment in the city. It also serves as the ideal vantage point for people watching, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The mall is located at a corner street on Main Boulevard, just ahead of Readings. The street on which it is located connects directly to MM Alam Road. All the ground floor space is occupied by eateries that spill onto the street side. This almost makes it feel like Kohsar Market. On busy days, like the weekend, it is next to impossible to get a table outside. However, this is perhaps one of the few places in Lahore which has a seating arrangement in the open like this, and it is totally worth it to get a table outside in good weather. In the winters, each restaurant has outdoor heating to keep their customers warm.
The restaurants located here are eatery-style. One of them is actually called “The Little Eatery”. They have interesting stories attached to them, such as B.Y.O.B; a burger-steak joint which started on a little farm in Ex-Park View Phase 8 DHA. The Burning Giraffe, which takes the prize for the most interesting name in the vicinity. The logo is adorned with the image of a smoking giraffe which is stupidly funny but totally works. Little known fact: the Burning Giraffe is actually a famous Spanish painting that depicts the personal struggle set within the larger human struggle.
Next to it is Mocca Café, where you arguably get the best coffee in Lahore. Mocca has my favorite outdoor rooftop seating space in the vicinity, and a wide variety of lattes, and desserts, apart from savory dishes. Their carrot cake is a winner, and you should definitely not go away without trying it. This place is a favorite for meetings and working lunches.
Espresso is well known for their food in Lahore and is one of the oldest cafes in the city. Their coffee, as well as their chilled drinks like margaritas, are quite famous. I simply LOVE The Pantry’s sandwiches and salads. Their flatbread pizzas are a must-try as well and they give really good value for money. The Wok has an intriguing décor. From your table outside, you can see a Chinese woman painted in the basement. I found the picture very intriguing and inviting. It serves Chinese as well as Thai cuisine. The restaurant occupies three floors, including a section each in the basement and on the first floor. They also have the cutest balcony seating area. It’s covered so you can even enjoy the outdoorsy feels of Mall 1 on rainy days. The Balcony and The Brasserie also share this outdoor seating area.
On the inside, the mall has a separate food court as well. The seating area is in a naturally illuminated courtyard. A great place to sit and chill after a tiring shopping spree. Khaadi, Al-Karam, and Crocs also have outlets in Mall 1.
Somewhat surprisingly, a large part of the first floor is dedicated entirely to Laser Tag. This area is indicated by Star Wars figurines (in all their Storm-trooping Yoda glory) that line the corridor leading up to it. The entire store is Star Wars themed and called Funholics. It charges PKR 600 per person and PKR 1000 for two people. This gets you rental laser guns and laser-sensitive gear. You are given access to an obstacle course, where you can compete with your friends or absolute strangers in a sci-fi style battle.
Across the street, there are some more restaurants, including The Second Cup, Little Eatery, and Eataly. There is also Café Beirut, which has a pretty outdoor and rooftop seating area. The place has some solid Arab street food feels with neon-colored signs and bonfires.
In a space of a block and a half, Mall 1 and the contiguous area offer more than ten choices for places to eat at as well as high fashion clothing stores. This goes perfectly with the fancy feel of the neighborhood. If you want to dress well and have a fun night with friends, Mall 1 is definitely one of the top places to hang in Lahore.