Watch out for: the herbal teas
Iran’s 3rd city claims bragging rights to some of the country’s finest Islamic architecture, and its locals are rightly proud of its rich history. Here we review 10 great cafés and coffeehouses inEsfahan that will help you soak up all that the city has to offer.
Si-o-Seh Bridge Teahouse is the last remaining riverside teahouse along the Zayandeh. The river itself is regrettably going the same way as its teahouses, gradually drying up. The teahouse – located on the north side of the eponymous 33-arched bridge – is a terrific venue to meet locals, sip piping hot tea, and subject your lungs to some fruity Iranian shisha smoke (known is Persian as qalyan). Practice your wistful glances as you inevitably join Esfahanis in lamenting the demise of this erstwhile social and commercial hub.
Watch out for: the riverside views
A stone’s throw from Imam Square and Chehelsotoon Palace is the unassuming exterior of Sibil Coffee, widely regarded as the home of the best coffee in town. Sibil (which translates to moustache) is short on seating, but offers an excellent selection of cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, and hot chocolates to take away. Also on the menu are juices, smoothies, and a crowd-favourite: non-alcoholic mojitos.
Watch out for: the non-alcoholic mojitos
Address: Ostandari Street,near Posht Matbakh Alley, Esfahan, Iran, +98 31 3222 7855
With every inch of the walls and ceiling covered in photographs, paintings, lamps, and other intriguing knick knacks, Azadegan teahouse seems like veritable cave of wonders. Characterful old men make up the regular clientele, and reliably regale tourists with amusing anecdotes and a whirlwind history of Esfahan, all whilst puffing away on a shisha pipe. Their doogh (an Iranian yoghurt drink) is excellent, although this isn’t a venue for non-smokers.
Watch out for: the doogh
Time Café is a quirky, modern-style coffee shop with exceptionally friendly staff and reasonable prices. Popular with tourists and local creative types, the café has rotating exhibits of artworks and a fine selection of teas, coffees, cakes, and juices. Located in the east of the city, a little north of Marnan Bridge, this cosy café deserves your business if you’re in that neck of the woods.
Watch out for: the rotating art exhibitions
Address: Khayyam Street, Esfahan, Iran
The Qeysarieh Teahouse, situated on the north side of Imam Square adjacent to the passage to the bazaar, offers cheap tea and shisha with fantastic views of the square. Whilst the inside is cluttered with pots, photographs, and colourful ornaments, the terrace provides a more serene platform from which to enjoy the impressive vista. Worth frequenting at different times of the day to observe the changing moods of Iran’s biggest square.
Watch out for: the views of Imam Square