Biting into a scrumptious burger is something every foodie cherishes; even the snooty critics who may publicly pretend to frown at its juicy goodness. It is however important to realize that all food lovers prefer their burgers made a certain way; from the type of meat, veg, bread and cheese to the intricate combination and layers of condiments.
The port city of Karachi has seen somewhat of a burger boom. Consumers seem to be craving and raving at all the options to choose from everywhere you look. And it’s not just the consumers either; the trend has allowed for aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs to ensure the mushrooming of a variety of different restaurants and takeaways in the city.
Wanting to make sense of it all from a consumer perspective, we categorized the “Karachi burger scene” into three broad categories to try and do justice to what is shaping up to be a true culinary transformation.
The Quick Fix Burgers
In this category we have some old timers; a few new kids on the block and of course, the international fast food chains that over the years have made their way into the Pakistani market. The classic Bun Kebab is always a hot item when searching for a quick fix; offerings from Tipu Burger and Bholu provide us with a relatively clean street-food experience with a punch full of flavor. Mr. Burger still shines bright on the horizon, offering the nostalgic taste of a 4oz. peppered beef patty topped with their secret sauce; OH SO GOOD!
More recently, the burger market has seen the rise of three new burger demi-gods; Big Thick Burgerz, The Burger Shack and Burger Inc. Started by food-loving entrepreneurs, these three joints have developed somewhat of a cult following amongst fans resulting in frequent arguments on social media regarding which is best. We feel none is better than the other, but rather it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.
All three have minor differences which make each experience worthwhile; when extremely hungry go for the flame-grilled Big Thick Burger, when craving something greasy and smoky be sure to hit up The Burger Shack, otherwise a Grand Tribeca from Burger Inc. should do just fine.
With so much local goodness to choose from one would think the McDonalds and Burger Kings of the world could never stand a chance in Karachi. Yet we continue to see the expansion of franchises such as Fatburger, Hardee’s and Johnny Rockets; such is the power of this Karachi burger craze.
Nothing against the burgers in this category, The Pretenders comprise of burger joints out there that are making an effort, but are not yet up to the mark in terms of either service or consistent quality of food. However, they are part of this industry and should be supported.
In this category we have Obeez Burger, Burger Factory and Burger lab as the new arrivals. Again we see three food-loving entrepreneurs that have made an effort to try and break into the market. We have seen some good branding, marketing and interesting menus however it appears the finished products still require a considerable amount of work. Burger Lab has come back stronger as they seem to have taken onboard customer feedback and put their initial hiccups to rest. The Burger Factory has an interesting theme in Marvel Characters but unfortunately cannot deliver on taste. Their burgers taste like a shami kebab sandwich yet it is neither a bun kebab nor can it be classified as a burger. What is it really? Lastly, we have the old timer in Mash-N-Bangers. This place has been around for a long time so it must have a loyal customer base. However, they have failed to improve on quality over the years – a quality that was always par at best.
The Bourgeois is a category reserved for those that go that extra mile; where better ingredients are used and gourmet concoctions are created. We have chosen three places whose burgers are a testament to this category and are different in their own right. As a result, the following are a must try:
First we have Pantry, where we find The Pantry Burger in its many manifestations. The succulent beef patty can be made with a variety of different forms, from Blue Cheese and Balsamic with a peppery layer of rocket, to The California with Avocado and grilled peppers. When looking for a juicy cheese burger that always hits the spot be sure to check out the ‘Old School’ at Xander’s. Somewhat of a minimalist café, Xander’s offers a simple burger that drips with all the good stuff and offers the right amount of beef to bun ratio. Both burgers are modern in their creation yet offer a classic feel that comes together to make for a really great experience.
Lastly, we have the most expensive and probably most daring burger available in Pakistan today. Okra, arguably the finest restaurant in Karachi, serves a burger one simply must try for the audacious combination of ingredients alone. The burger is served with well-constructed layers of delicious ground beef, blue cheese, rocket and Foie Gras which are then topped with truffle oil and gravy. It may be a bit of a mess to eat but packs an explosion of flavors in every bite. It may burn a hole in your pocket, but we suggest saving up to give it a try at least once.
With all these options to choose from, if you’re in Karachi definitely try some of these places and if you’re a burger lover that happens to be in the region, drop by the beautiful city of lights to get a little taste of burger heaven!
In this article, the term Burger refers to something the writer firmly believes in. That, “burgers are made with beef. There are no chicken burgers, just chicken sandwiches!”