Lunch & Dinner
The buffet dinner at the Lalit (the erstwhile palace of the Maharaja of Kashmir) just off the Boulevard is the best high-end option.
The view at the Taj Vivanta is to die for. Unfortunately their excellent Chinese restaurant – the Jade Garden – only serves dinner.
Ahdoos at Residency Road is recommended (especially off season when freshness of food may be an issue at other places).
Stream and Shamyana on the Boulevard are popular but struggle to maintain a consistently high standard.
Linz Cafe on the Residency Road has wholesome kashmiri/indian food and loads of ambience.
The slightly posey menu at The 14th Avenue overlooking the Jehlum near the SPS Museum at Rajbagh is offset by the location and friendly service. Plus they have free wifi if you ask nicely. The new 14th Avenue Cafe at Parraypora is recommended.
Try a slice of their Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert.
You can't get friendlier service than Kathi Junction at the Sara City Mall. Plus there is always something going on – book launches, live music shows and the like.
The original Karim's has opened a franchise at the erstwhile Mehfil restaurant at Polo View.
The quality of the food & the service at 7c's Fine n Dine at the Sangarmaal Complex has vastly improved of late. Seating availability can be something of a lottery and the name remains unredeemably clunky.
The Jade Dragon at the Taj Vivanta is the best place for Chinese food.
Tip: Evenings only.
Lhasa on the Boulevard is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Kashmir.
Tip: Lhasa is excellent for Chinese/Indian food home delivery.
Alka Salka near the General Post Office and Knife and Fork at Regal Chowk are conveniently located.
Tikka stalls (mutton, chicken & fish) at Makai Point on the Boulevard are very popular nowadays.
Imran Cafeteria and other stalls in Khanyar serve good grilled mutton tikka. The skewers are served on a lavassa with a platter of six or seven dips/chutneys.
The original Mummy Please near Amira Kadal have the best grilled chicken. They also serve grilled mutton tikkas with chutney platter a la Khanyar.
Tip: Best as take-away.
Old-timers and regular visitors to the valley swear by Ahdoos at Residency Road. Tea and kababs at Ahdoos are a time-honored tradition. The chicken patty and chutney are simply magnifico.
Tip: Ahdoos refers to the restaurant, not the bakery shop.
Creme, the bakery shop at Ahdoo’s is worth a try in its new avatar.
Cafe Coffee Day adjacent to Burn Hall School and
Coffea Arabica at the Broadway Hotel are good places for coffee in Kashmir. Cafe Coffee Day has opened new outlets at Kashmir University and Nishat.
The food at Coffea Arabica is excellent though pricey. The ambience is a huge plus.
Fast Food Chains
KFC and McDonald's have not yet set up shop in Kashmir, so either Bangs
or ChicKing will have to do. I prefer the food at the former.
Modern Sweets at Karan Nagar has the freshest burgers in Srinagar probably because their buns are oven-fresh.
Best as takeaway. However the service is excruciatingly slow.
Amigo's opposite Amar Singh College, earlier recommended for oven- fresh pizza and pasta, has upscaled itself to a family-style restaurant.
Smokin' Joes has a popular pizza home delivery service in Kashmir. Amigo's and Bangs also offer pizza delivery.
Always confirm hourly/daily offers before ordering.
Cakes and Pastries
Fresh western-style bakery items are available at Jee Enn Sons on the Maulana Azad Road.
Sultan Bakers at Dalgate bake an excellent cheesecake.
Creme at Ahdoos, La Delice, a French-style bakery on the Boulevard and the Just Baked bakery at Rawalpora are new entries on the list.
Catherine Wheels served with thick maple syrup in an old-world setting at Hotel Highlands Park are alone worth the journey to Gulmarg. Nothing else comes close.
The fact that Gulmarg is one of the most beautiful tourist spots in Asia helps.
If you insist on pure vegetarian food, Krishna Dhaba opposite Cafe Coffee Day at Durganag is the best option.
It is probably the only place in Kashmir where three people can have a full meal for a couple of hundred bucks.
Recommended even for non-vegetarians.
The veg-only Mahatta’s Cafe on the Bund near the G.P.O oozes old world charm. Plus they have pretty good ice cream.
Nathu's on the Boulevard is an Indian-style eatery that serves passable varieties of a wide range of foods – thali, dosa, sweets, bakery etc.
Nathu's Rasoi near the Main Bus Stand in Pahalgam serves the best South Indian food in Kashmir.
Cafe Log Inn in Pahalgam scores high on food and ambience but the staff is surprisingly rude.
Grillz near Nagin Club
and Mealz at Karan Nagar are good shwarma joints. They also offer local home delivery.
Gulf Royal on the Bypass Crossing at Rawalpora is also recommended.
Try fresh cheese pakoras at the food court outside Nishat Garden.
The afore-mentioned Cafe Coffee Day at Durganag has a summer chaat joint – Go Chaatz.
Try their 'Rocket kulfi'.
Maharaja Sweets opposite Amar Singh Club in Sonwar and Shakti Sweets are popular Indian-style sweet shops in Srinagar.
Little Hut off the Zero Bridge is still my favourite place for ice cream.
Other ice cream joints are a middling Baskin Robbins stall at the Sangarmaal Complex, and the aforementioned Hat Trick and Amigo's .
You still cant get a decent hot chocolate fudge anywhere in Kashmir. Maybe at Mahatta’s Cafe.
Try a Honey Fig cone. Awesome!
The houseboat-styled Food Court may be worth a visit for the ambience at the restored Zero Bridge.
Cafe Peerzoo on the banks of the Jehlum behind the General Post Office used to be a kind of finishing school for trainees at the Institute of Hotel Management. The food was prepared and served by the students and the quality varied from sublime to passable. These days it is just another government-run facility and the food roulette is history.
Worth a visit for the location.