A center of pilgrimage and religious learning, Iran’s second most populous city isn’t renowned for a thriving cafe culture. Nevertheless, Mashhad is a metropolis of many faces, and its visitors from far-flung fields and broad demographics combine to create a lively if idiosyncratic sense of cosmopolitanism. Here we feature some of the finest cafes and tea-houses which exemplify Mashhad’s diverse urbanity.
With soft lighting, a red brick interior, and wooden furnishings, Café Nabat is thoughtfully designed and exudes professionalism. Seemingly more European than Iranian, Nabat is a hit with young locals and students, and a great place to strike up a conversation about anything from the arts to politics to Mashhad’s underground rap scene. The menu features a good range of teas, coffees, and cakes, and rather exceptionally, a full continental breakfast (no ham).
Address: Salman-e Farsi, Mashhad, Iran
Retro Café has the cozy, après-ski vibe of a mountain chalet, with wooden beams, rustic furniture, and red brick walls. This dimly lit establishment draws in an artsy and international crowd, and is perhaps the closest thing to a bar you’ll find in Mashhad. An excellent range of coffees and fruity milkshakes, as well as late opening times (usually until midnight), make Retro Café a fine spot to spend an evening with friends or working from your laptop.
Address: 79-81 Piroozi Boulevard,Mashhad, Iran, +98 513 509 8085
Hezardastan Traditional Teahouse
With its carpeted platforms on which to recline, traditional instruments and live music, and calligraphy-laden walls, Hezardastan will tastefully cater to the Oriental fantasies of many a tourist. Doubling up as a restaurant, the underground tea-house offers a pleasant ambiance and standard Iranian fare, as well as copious cups of piping hot Persian chai.
Address: Jannat Street, Mashhad, Iran, +98 511 222 2943
Café Kook is another characterful, modern-style coffee shop, replete with trendy furnishings and atmospheric lighting. They boast a fine range of coffees, often decorated with intricate latte art, but the food menu is where Kook comes into its own. You can sample some of the most delicious cakes in the city (the Nutella and biscuit cake is a particular treat for those with a sweet tooth), or indulge in a chicken pasta dish.
Address: Zanbagh Street, just off Khayam 10 Street, Mashhad
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