This restaurant was recomended by the hotel. Its in the shopping district. well known, attached to a sweet shop and one flight up.
It looked a bit shady at first. There was a heavy flower motif everywhere, heavy drapery that was all drawn in the middle of the day and cafe style tables. The place was packed with local men. The only table with women was one with 3 teenage girls in school outfits that looked out of place (and me). Everyone looked at us strangely being the only foreigners there.
We asked the waiter to serve us a sampling of Kashmiri food. This is all served family style in big plates to share. The first thing he broght out was a delicious naan bread with nuts and fruit on top. Then came 3 meat dishes, 2 were gushtaba (spam-like balls- nice at first bite but weird consistency) and one lamb dish that was superb. He gave us one vegetable dish which was spinach that I believe was cooked in meat gravy- this was delicious. And white rice, of course. The portions were quite large.
After the meal we were served Kehwa which is a delicate tea made with cinammon and sliced almonds. The kettle it was made in is called a Samovar, beautiful copper vessel with an interior compartment accessed from the side, where hot coals are kept to warm the tea.
Favorite Dish: The spinach dish was by far my favourite, although if you are a strict vegetarian I would inquire about its preparation, it tasted meaty.
I found the food here to be quite delicately flavoured, not spicy, but quite tasty.
Stick to bottled water!
When my wife and I were staying at the houseboat in Srinagar, we had a taste of Kashmiri food. The food is somewhat spicy (but still OK), and consist of dishes such as mutton, chicken, stewed vegetables, curries etc.
The freshwater carp fishes found in the rivers of Kashmir are a local delicacy, and you should try it when you are there. The fish is tasty, but the main problem is that it has lots of bones so be careful.
I shall put this tip on the top of the list of my Kashmir Restaurant page as it brought me instant nostalgia after 34 years of my first visit in 1977. The Lal Chowk was totally different then, it was wide, with many food joints on the street. There were many Skewer shops serving delicious Lamb Boti Kebabs. But this time , I found only one after walking for almost half a kilometer on the street. Many new restaurants , hotels, shops have come up there. The street looks crowded with many shops and fewer tourists. Prices are also astronomical.
The Kebab shop was serving @Rs.20/- ( US$0.40) per skewer , which is still very reasonable with that heavenly taste. It is made in front of you with charcoal fire, tastes excellent. I shall strongly recommend you to try this , when you are at Srinagar. You may have it with Chapati or straight from plate to palate! Let me assure you, you will never regret your decision!
Favorite Dish: Mutton Skewer ( Boti Kebab) with Chapati, what else.
Since, I visited Kashmir after 33 years, I wanted to try out two main dishes again I savored 33 years back. One was the exotic meatball dish called Gustaba and the second was lamb meat Skewer at Lal Chowk, Srinagar. On the day of arrival at Srinagar, I expressed my desire to taste Gustaba to Mr.G.M.Khandey, General Manager of Hotel Grand Mumtaz, he gladly accepted to treat us with Gustaba on our return from Pahalgam next night. And lo , he kept his promise , he treated us with a plate of the saffron & yogurt flavoured Gustaba, next night. Gustaba is a very traditional Kashmiri dish made with minced lamb meat marinated with yogurt and with added flavour of saffron. There is another variety of Gustaba, I now don't recall the name but it was dry and very sweet smelling spicy. This Gustaba was dipped in gravy ( see picture) and tasted heavenly. Apart from Gustaba we also tasted Mirch Ghosht ( Chilli meat, but Kashmiri Chilli is not hot but flavoured, don't worry, it will not blow you out!). It was also excellent!
Favorite Dish: Gustaba and Mirch Ghosht ( Chilli meat) , both tasted heavenly!
Ahdoos has been long reknown in Srinagar for their Kashmiri food. They are one of the few places that offer a full Kashmiri Wazwan, a type of buffet, where upto seven non vegetarian delicacies are served sequentially along with a selection of Kashmiri breads and followed by desserts and Qahwa (Kashmiri Saffron Tea).
This is one place, even the locals, ranging from the hotel manager to the street urchin will recommend you to visit if you're looking for great Kashmiri Cuisine. The decor is decent by Indian standards and the non vegetarian good is excellent. The Vegetarian food is standard and good. Try Rishta, Gushtaba, Seekh Kababs. Their portions are very large, for example to finish their Rishta will require 2-3 people, so be careful while ordering. Service is good and at the end if you ask, they will provide complimentary Kashmiri tea called Qahwa served in a copper samovar. It is delicious. My wife finished the entire jug by herself.
They both offer an impressive variety of Mughalai meat entrees but also some for the vegies, which is what I covered. Everyone's favorite seems to be Mughal Darbar but here is a breakdown:
On Residency Road. Relatively spicier food with huge portions and reasonable prices. Larger menu than Ahdoos. Mostly busy with locals and tourists. Clean, low light interiors with a 'visited' feel but could improve on table settings. Try the tandoori paneer tikka masala; you have not tried anything like this before! The restaurant downstairs is for everyone, the same one on the second floor is for hotel guests only. Good, fresh bakery with all the local popular stuff.
Just a few yards away from Mughal Darbar, easily reached by foot at Lal Chowk. This by far has a much more classy, upscale feel with a very clean wood panel interior and carpeting. Yet prices are just like Mughal Darbar. More mild and subtle flavors to suit all taste buds. Try their delicate kah wah (saffron tea), cool firni (rice almond pudding), or nadur yakhni (lotus root veg. which melts in the mouth). Since it is upscale you see kind of less locals. Its bakery on the ground floor seems to have a slightly bigger variety. Definitely try their walnut crumble squares!
My verdict: Tough but if I had to keep going I'd visit Ahdoos more, certainly for the bakery.
P.S. The popular Shamyana and Top Hat are overpriced tourist spots for what they offer, which is not much. Give them a miss.
Both Nathu's and Punjabi Rasoi (there are 2-3 Punjabi Rasoi's) on the Boulevard are perenially filled by domestic tourists. I think mainly because they both offer only vegetarian food and most Indian travelers prefer not to step into a place that offers any meat. That has lead to a noisy dining experience with zero ambiance; Nathu even has a loudspeaker to blare out your order number for crying out loud. Prices are kind of lower but then so are the portions. If you are good with crowds -- enter, otherwise give them a miss.
As far as standard vegetarian fast foods go, this one is pretty alright. Fast service, hot food, clean, and well lit - it is hard to ask for more. Prices are reasonable. It is only 3 stores off the main Boulevard road, near Hotel Shah Abbas. It does attract tourists at peak hours but not nearly as bad as Nathu's or the Punjabi Rasois on the main street ahead.
traditional kahwa (tea) + biscuits/cakes and other snacks, are served (very generously) at every house if you visit a local.