I have been going to Saidpur since it was first started as a tourist destination and more importantly as a place for residents and visitors of Islamabad to hang out. Nestled in the lap of the green Margalla hills that run the length of the capital city, Saidpur is the brainchild of Kamran Lashari whose creativity and aesthetics have left a mark on several key spots in Lahore and Isloo. A number of restaurants have now sprung up there with many doing extremely well and more importantly offering a one stop destination for avid food lovers to sample different cuisines at one of the most scenic places in Islamabad.
Polo Lounge whose parent restaurant in at the Lahore Polo Club offers the same great food though some friends may disagree with this observation. The setting though not in a polo club is equally attractive and done up in equestrian rusticity...only drawback of the view from the terrace is of restaurants opposite, one wishes that mountain views could have been incorporated but may be it could not because of housing constraints at the back. The village of Saidpur itself has received tremendous support with this development. Other notable restaurants are Khewa and Lahore Chatkhara both offering delicious samples of ethnic food. Taking the stone steps up from another restaurant whose name i have forgotten!! (but which also offers bar b que and ethnic food and the staple shisha served on charpais covered with bright covers! you come to HotSpot, Islamabad's icecream delight joint. Done up with brightly colored film posters thank God of Lollywood stars and other quirky parapharnelia that is also sold on the premises, you can sit on the stone and wooden benches and enjoy the best strawberry frozen yogurt or caramel crunch. Their molten chocolate and brownie with vanilla is equally scrumptious as are their calorie laden but delicious milkshakes made from any of the dozens of ice creams on offer. For the more adventurous is a stone path going up to a shrine of a local pir (saint). You are practically sitting quarter way up a mountain with thick trees and vegetation. The Capital Development Authority CDA has also made efforts to preserve a Hindu temple and has made a small museum on the premises that chronicles some historical facts and events. A must see place for anyone visiting Islamabad that has unfairly been called sterile by even Pakistanis. The city might not be culturally rich like Lahore but it has its own charm and immense scenic beauty. Even with lots more traffic than a few years back, islamabad offers a relaxed atmosphere.
Saidpur also hosts a few shops, of which Taneez selling silverware is a great place to pick some really stunning and creative pieces.