Quetta Alamgir Hotel: Quintessentially Karachi
There are several small dhabas in the Bahadurabad area, run mostly by people from the Pakhtun community. They are some of the friendliest people in this city, with a strong work ethic and warm demeanors. One of the most renowned dhabas here is the Quetta Alamgir Hotel, and I’m a regular there.
Moving past Alamgir Road towards Bahadurabad, one comes across a flurry of their signature green chainaks(teapots) and the steam rising from a large tawa, as they slap on multiple parathas for their customers. It can be seen packed to the brim with patrons 24/7, especially at night when even the outdoor seating is completely occupied.
Quetta Alamgir Hotel serves up an amazing karrak chai as well as kehwa, suleimani chai, and doodh patti. I have been having my morning chai there for years now and can attest to the taste and quality. The hotel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nothing too fancy, they stick to local staples such as anday, parathay, daal, sabzi, kaleji, and of course, tandoor ki roti. They also serve cake rusk or biscuits for those who enjoy accompaniments with their tea. The pricing is on the low end since this isn’t a DHA dhaba. Meals cost between Rs 100-150 and a cup of chai is priced between Rs 15-30.
Most customers visit Quetta Alamgir Hotel either for breakfast or for a late-night hang out with friends. So it remains operational round the clock. During the day it is occupied by laborers and office workers, and at night it is visited by teens, bachelors, and families.
The indoor space is simple and sparse, save a few wooden tables and benches. This doesn’t really factor in because the targeted demographic is people from a lower-income bracket. The service speed is great for those visiting for a mid-day lunch or snack, and the food quality is perfect for any fan of desi food. The food is served in steel plates, while the tea comes in tiny transparent cups and saucers.
The waiters are friendly and respectful, while the cashier is known for his sense of humor as he makes conversation with every visitor. However, on nights when the dhaba is packed with people it can be a hassle trying to grab the attention of the overworked staff. There have been times when I’ve visited Quetta Alamgir Hotel and failed to find a single seat.
I’d recommend that everyone should visit Quetta Alamgir Hotel for the karrak chai if nothing else. Dhabas are an essential part of the Karachi experience, from the way the chai is poured to the way that it is served- it’s almost theatrical.
It is a pity, though, that even in today’s day and age one can see very few women in such public spaces, and the dhaba is always dominated by men. I hope for a day where women in Pakistan can also enjoy the dhaba experience without it having to be a political statement.