Dining out in Bangladesh is a treat for foodies. The capital offers plenty of restaurants that cater to all tastes, though prices can be steep for the ordinary traveler. Local cuisine is largely influenced by Bengali and Indian traditions, but does have its own distinctive taste and Bangladeshis seem to instinctively combine fragrant and flavorsome spices to keep their recipes tantalizingly good. Rice and fish are staples and milk-based sweets are often sold in shops and bazaars throughout the country. Biryani, a rice dish with a wide range of regional variations, is also a favorite in Bangladesh. Locals love egg, beef, or mutton biryani.
Bars and Pubbing in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a Muslim country, so alcohol is taboo, making nightlife is practically non-existent, except in international clubs and occasional bars in Dhaka and tourist towns like Teknaf and Cox’s Bazar. Upscale hotels often have good bars, and there are expat clubs exclusive to members. Some joints you can try include La Diplomat (House number 2, Road 20, Dhaka) and The Dip, which is a typical smoke-filled Bengali bar.
Those who need a caffeine fix should try the highly recommended North End Coffee (Kha-47-1 Pragati Sarani, Shahzadpur, North Badda), which is said to serve the best coffee in Bangladesh. Cafés serving all kinds of hot tea, icy drinks and pastries are scattered throughout the city and are a good alternative to the thumping club scene elsewhere.
Saint Martins Island and Cox’s Bazar in the southeast are about the only places outside of Dhaka that stay open late. You can sip fresh raw sugarcane juice or coconut water and chug down beers and cocktails in the evenings.
Dining and Cuisine in Bangladesh
The restaurant scene in Dhaka caters to all tastes and budgets. If you are feeling adventurous, Old Dhaka is the place to go for cheap Bangladeshi food. For international dishes, head to upscale neighborhoods such as Gulshan and Banani, which are home to all kinds of restaurants serving Indian, Chinese, Greek, Thai, Mexican, and even Vietnamese. Buffet style dining is also common, with fixed price menus that are budget friendly. Vegetarians may have a bit of trouble finding vegan meals, but some Indian joints may do the trick.
In the Old Dhaka and central Dhaka areas, a couple of hotels and a few cafés are worth checking out. The restaurant on the ground floor of Hotel Al-Razzaque (29/1 North South Rd, Nazira Bazar) is popular with businessmen and Bangladeshi families, but the menu is varied and unpredictable. Be sure to arrive early as it gets packed. Jharna Grill (107 Kazi Nazrul Islam Ave., Dhaka) in Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel is known for its seafood, while Cafe Jheel (Old Dhaka) offers sumptuous local dishes. If you are craving for a platter of good old Bangladeshi biryani, stop by Hajjee Beryani (Nazira Bazar, Dhaka). Be ready for a long line of hungry customers, as this popular shop has an eccentric tradition of serving only at certain times and cooking limited amounts of the sought after dish.
Upscale Gulshan and Banani are known for their elite restaurants and well-known international cuisine, as well as cafés serving exotic drinks. Heritage (House 10, Road 109. Gulshan-2) is a popular local restaurant run by celebrity chef, Tommy Miah for unique Bangla-fusion food. A handful of pizzerias and Italian-inspired restaurants also dot the Gulshan circle, including Spaghetti Jazz (Gulshan-2), La Forchetta (House 10, Road 53, Gulshan-2), and Bella Italia (Glushan-2, Eastern Bank Limited Building). Oh Calcutta (House 49, Road 11, Banani) is a vegan-friendly Indian restaurant specializing in Bengali dishes. If you are craving burritos and enchiladas, visit El Toro (House 1A, Road 138, Gulshan).