bustling capital city of Tehran is an intriguing mix of ancient and modern culture, with a dining scene to match. From traditional Persian fare or the Iranian national dish chelo kabab
, to globally inspired food, this city has a restaurant to cater for all tastes. Here are 10 of the best restaurants in Tehran.
Bix is part of one of Tehran’s most successful and well-known restaurant companies, Monsoon Group, and was established as a local counterpart to the increasingly trendy Californian cuisine. With refreshing and light dishes such as grilled salmon, avocado and crème fraiche on crispy potato pancakes, or grilled jumbo shrimp with lemon cilantro pasta, the restaurant provides a welcome dining option during Tehran’s scorching summer months. Its interior is equally fresh and modern with vibrant, red sofa-style seating complemented by grey marble floors, a pristine stainless steel bar area and contemporary lighting. Outside, Bix features a pretty courtyard area with white raffia furniture and huge parasols, perfect for an evening al fresco meal.
Gandhi Shopping Centre, Gandhi Street, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 8878 8272
Café Shemroon is a quiet little eatery set in tranquil and charming surroundings that is known in Tehran for its fantastic breakfasts; some visitors even say it has the best cakes in the capital city. The café serves a breakfast buffet daily, but guests can also enjoy a coffee or tea with a slice of carrot cake, a refreshing ginger lemonade or iced tea and a filling burger or lasagne in its picturesque gardens. Shemroon is located within the grounds of the Iranian Art Garden Museum, a lovely space of approximately one hectare featuring beautiful old trees, fountains and waterways and examples of ancient Iranian architecture. In fact, the café itself often exhibits works by local artists.
Fereshteh Street, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 2239 4001
Tamasha, another component of the Monsoon Group, has a dish for everyone’s tastes with its comprehensive menu full of international dishes such as teriyaki chicken, crispy shrimp and pineapple tortilla, or grilled trout with lemon-cilantro butter and mashed potatoes. Or, go local with a kebab like the joujeh kebab – grilled chicken often marinated in onion, lemon juice and saffron – or the kabab barg, marinated in olive oil, onions, garlic, saffron, salt and black pepper. The restaurant décor is splendid with high, ornately-decorated ceilings, marble floors and vibrant artwork.
Milad-e-Noor Shopping Centre, Shahrak Gharb, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 8808 54489
Named after the beautiful mountain range that embraces the northern edge of the city, Alborz opened in 1967, and has become known throughout Tehran as one of its premier destinations for quality kebab dishes. With its buzzing and lively atmosphere, the popular restaurant is often full of life. In addition to kebabs, Alborz also serves barbecue food, steak and some seafood dishes. A must-try is Iran’s national dish, the chelow kabab – served with steamed basmati or Persian rice infused with saffron.
North Sohrevardi, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 8876 1907
Restaurant, Iraqi, $$$
To enjoy modern Persian cuisine in stylish surroundings, look no further than Divan. The restaurant interior is dominated by a bold black and white theme with cool turquoise accents, as well as colorful Persian artwork and beautiful, contemporary lighting – and above all, stunning views of the breath-taking Alborz Mountains in the distance. Dine on a starter of crispy beef piroshkis – a baked or fried stuffed bun – with barberries and herbs, followed by an entrée of crispy duck house stew with walnuts, pomegranate molasses and orange marmalade. Alternatively, try one of Divan’s recommended dishes, such as its oven-roasted quail in a lemon marinade served with couscous.
Sam Centre, Fereshteh Street, Fayazi Boulevard, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 2265 3853
Leon is a group of Italian restaurants with three locations across Tehran, though its beautiful branch at the Sam Center is certainly something to write home about. It has a romantic yet chic ambiance typified by its upscale design and beautifully presented dishes. The contemporary restaurant group began life back in the mid-1960s but underwent a revamp in 2010 and now boasts of exquisite surroundings and an updated menu full of authentic Italian dishes. Start with an appetizer of beef carpaccio with lemon, olive oil and parmesan or a fresh and simple caprese salad of mozzarella, tomato and basil followed by a creamy carbonara pasta with bacon, garlic and parmesan.
Sam Centre, Fereshteh Street, Fayazi Boulevard, Tehran, Iran, +98 2265 3841
Terrace is the sister restaurant to Bix, and, like its sibling, also serves up tantalizing Californian cuisine. As a small and intimate two-storey restaurant with an open-air terrace area, Terrace is is a difficult venue to find. When you do locate it, it definitely makes the search worthwhile with its elegant yet modern cream interiors and contemporary seating. Popular with native Tehranis, Terrace boasts of a chic and smart ambiance and and delicious menu, including starters such as squid fritti in a marinara sauce with lemon-caper aioli, entrees such as steak and brie with creamy sautéed mushrooms and fresh basil, and desserts including panna cotta with a mango coulis.
61 East Maryam Street, Elayieh, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 2201 0519
Founded in 1998, Monsoon has been a staple of the capital city’s dining scene for over 15 years, and in its long operation has become popular with Tehrani diners looking for fresh and contemporary Asian cuisine of a consistently high quality. Boasting impeccable service and a menu encompassing all Pacific Rim cuisines, Monsoon’s ability to provide an exceptional dining experience ensures that guests come back time and time again. As an appetizer, why not try the baby shrimp and avocado salad with mixed greens and a miso vinaigrette, followed by the cashew chicken with red chili, garlic and pineapple. Alternatively, try a lighter bite of nigiri sushi available with salmon, prawn or crab, followed by an interesting dessert of mango spring rolls with coconut ice cream.
No. 8, Gandhi Shopping Centre, Gandhi Street, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 8879 1982
Offering traditional Persian cuisine in a cozy and inviting atmosphere, Gilane is based in the heart of downtown Tehran. The small restaurant is a little on the expensive side of the city’s dining scene but well worth the price, and its popularity with both locals and visitors means that reservations for dinner are a must. The restaurant gets its name from the Gilan province in northern Iran – a region with a rich culinary history from which the restaurant gets much of its menu inspiration. The cuisine is authentic, delicious and wholesome, and visitors to Gilane highly recommend its kebab torsh – a beef kebab dish marinated in crushed walnuts, pomegranate molasses, parsley, garlic and olive oil – and the sabi polo, a dish made from rice, finely chopped herbs and fish.
Bolvar-e-Saba, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 2204 1434
Restaurant, French, European
Based within the Raamtin Hotel, Bistango was established in April of 2004 to provide Tehran’s diners with an upscale international dining experience. Serving international cuisine made by a talented and equally international team that includes Canadian executive chef Larry Greenwood, the restaurant is divided into two dining rooms – a classically decorated main dining hall and Bistango Blue, a private dining room for parties of up to 20 guests. Its global menu features appetizers such as leek and potato soup or spinach and mixed fruit salad with a ginger dressing, as well as entrees including beef short ribs with a mushroom risotto and a demi-glace sauce.
Raamtin Hotel, Valy-e-Asr Avenue, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 8855 4409