City Hangouts – Cafe Darakhshan

Karachi is a city of migrants. They have been migrating here since British invested in a modern port, some even before that. These migrants made their mark in different professions and help build modern Karachi. Zoroastrians and farmers from Yazd have been settling in subcontinent for centuries. While a lot of them headed for Mumbai, some of them identified business opportunity in rapidly growing Karachi and settled here. Along with other professions, they made their mark on restaurant business in Karachi just like they did that in Mumbai. They were entrepreneurial bunch and they adapted to local preference of milk tea along with regular Irani cuisine and tea. Most of these cafes were in old town where they became gathering place for writers, politicians, students and travelers. People tell me that there were more than 100 Irani Cafes at one point of time in Karachi. You can count surviving cafes on fingertips now.

Cafe Darakhsan is one of few surviving Irani Cafes. Situated at a popular spot, near the intersection of Bunder road and Elphinstone Street, it offers a convenient location for a stopover snack or a proper meal. Most of the Irani Cafes were established at the intersection of the streets, increasing their visibility to the traffic. Cafe Darakhshan is not. It is tucked between Bambino Cinema and Cafe Pehalvi, another Irani cafe which actually is at the intersection of both roads. However a closer look at the wall which separates both cafes reveal that there was an arch which was removed. Both cafes were perhaps established as one and were divided into two at later stage.

The entrance with a large wooden panel sets the vintage tone and once you enter inside you will notice a lot of bentwood chairs. There is a family section which is upstairs but it does not cover the whole area thus giving ground floor advantage of high ceiling. The family section sadly has new chairs and tables though it gives a fantastic view of the cafe. The menu still contains authentic Irani dishes but over time it has given way to more popular Pakistani Dishes such as Biryani and Karahi. Their chullu kebab is a far cry from what you will find in Yazd, the city from which most of the Irani Cafes hail. I could not meet the owners but it seems that Cafe Darakhshan has survived due to the active involvement of younger generation of the owner.

Sunday is perhaps the best time to visit it but it starts late. You can find parking on main bunder road close to couple of newspaper stalls where you can find Urdu Digests and popular fiction.



Categories: City Hangouts

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One Comment on “City Hangouts – Cafe Darakhshan”

  1. Muhammad Fraz Ismail
    September 28, 2018 at 12:28 pm #


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