The 10 Best Cafés And Coffee Houses In Tehran

Photo of Shaahin Pishbin
9 February 2017

Café culture is thriving in Iran, nowhere more so than on the backstreets of its capital. The hundreds of modern style cafés dotted around Tehran provide a vibrant sense of cosmopolitanism, often juxtaposed with more traditional elements of city life. As well as a caffeine fix, coffee shops in Tehran offer young Iranians a space for open discussion, creative collaboration, and meeting new people. Here we review 10 of the best cafés in town.

Imam Komeini Mosque, Tehran | © David Stanley/Flickr

Lamiz Coffee

Cafe, Middle Eastern
Map View
Lamiz Coffee, Tajrish Square branch
Lamiz Coffee, Tajrish Square branch | © Tehran Cafes/Flickr
The ever-expanding Lamiz is perhaps Iran’s premier coffee shop chain, now with five branches in Tehran. Lamiz prides itself on its premium grade coffee beans imported from farms around the world, and its laid-back but professional atmosphere. A favourite with young middle class Iranians, foreign students, and tourists, the two Tajrish branches are especially popular (one on Tajrish Square, and the other on the top floor of Ghaem Shopping Centre). They also boast what must be the best carrot cake in the entire Middle East.

Gol Rezaieh Café

Gol Rezaieh Café, located in central Tehran just opposite the Glass and Ceramics Museum, is full of character and history, as one of the oldest coffee shops in the city. Established over 70 years ago, it has a longstanding reputation as a hub of intellectual discussion and excellent coffee. Like many of Tehran’s cafés, due to Iran’s 20th century attitudes towards indoor smoking (and most other vices being officially prohibited), you can expect a thick cloud of smoke hanging over the clientele, as they no doubt discuss the latest political and literary developments. Worth visiting if you’re in the bazaar area.

Traditional Teahouse, Tajrish Bazaar

Go down the third alley on the right off the main drag of the Tajrish bazaar and you will discover a delightful two storey traditional teahouse on the left. The top floor of the wooden-structured building provides carpeted platforms on which to recline, sip tea, and eat a traditional Iranian omelette if you are so inclined. It overlooks the central downstairs area, which is reserved for shisha-smoking (men only). Few teahouses can match the elegant simplicity of this establishment, the walls of which are adorned with fantastic Shia-themed paintings depicting the tragic events of Muharram.

Address: Tajrish Bazaar, Tajrish, Tehran, Iran

Café Shemroon, Iranian Art Garden Museum

Cafe, Middle Eastern
Map View
Within the grounds of the Iranian Art Garden Museum in Elahieh, you can find Café Shemroon, one of Tehran’s most picturesque and popular cafés. Renowned for its breakfast buffet in particular, Shemroon offers its customers an excellent selection of teas, coffees, cakes, and western foods such as lasagne or burgers. Sit inside or outside, after enjoying a walk around the gardens which, amongst other things, feature models of the most famous architectural structures from around the country.

Café Naderi

Café Naderi is famous citywide as the erstwhile intellectual hangout for the A-list literati of mid-20th century Iran. Leading modernist writers and thinkers such as Sadeq Hedayat, Simin Daneshvar, and Jalal Al-e Ahmad could be found sipping tea and exchanging notes here during the 1940s and 1950s. Located on Jomhuri Street, these days Naderi is more of a tourist attraction, and feels more old-fashioned than quaint. Still, it does an excellent Turkish coffee, and the characterful old waiters (who no doubt remember the café’s heyday) ensure a memorable experience.

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art Café

The concrete, modernist home of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see when visiting the capital. The museum, built in the 1970s, contains a more than impressive collection of works by artists including Picasso, Dalí, Monet, Bacon, and Warhol. The ground-floor café is the perfect venue to talk art and high culture with locals and tourists alike, or as a quiet spot read or simply people-watch.

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art | © MRG90/Wikicommons

Cinema Café, Bagh-e Ferdos

More popular than the Cinema Museum with which is shares its grounds, the Cinema Café in Bagh-e Ferdos offers a quiet space to enjoy a fine selection of teas, coffees, milkshakes, and sandwiches. Larger than most Tehrani cafés (which are notoriously cramped), the Cinema Café has both indoor and outside seating and a reliable WiFi connection, making it an ideal place to spend an afternoon working. Often frequented by foreign students, it’s unsurprisingly a little pricier than most alternatives.

Address: Bagh-e Ferdos, Valiasr Street, Tehran, Iran

Elysee Restaurant-Café, Tandis shopping centre, Tajrish

Restaurant, Middle Eastern
Map View
The Elysee Restaurant-Café is on the top floor of the Tandis shopping centre, which lies adjacent to Tajrish Square. The menu is not particularly extraordinary, offering a modest range of international dishes at above average prices, but the café’s unique-selling-point is the spectacular view of the city it provides. Looking out over the Imamzadeh Saleh from the balcony at sunset, you will forget any initial reservations you had about the shiny décor and mauve upholstery.

Gandhi Street Cafés

Gandhi Street in north Tehran has an entire enclave dedicated to housing some of the trendiest cafés in the capital. If you’re keen to meet Iranian hipsters and creative-types, and enjoy a fine blend of caffeinated goodness, spending afternoon or evening in the cafés of Gandhi shopping centre is probably your safest bet. Look out for Café Godot and Café de France in particular, for their Parisian-intellectual vibe.

Chaykhune, Enqelab Square

An altogether alternative tea-drinking experience can be found in one of the city’s many workingmen’s chaykhunes, or traditional teahouses. Rough round the edges and with some brutal strip lighting, the underground teahouse on Enqelab Square exemplifies such establishments. The tea is practically free, you’ll be expected to smoke a shisha pipe, and with its boisterous atmosphere, it is perhaps the closest thing Iran has to a pub. Unfortunately, women are strictly prohibited from this type of venue, so be prepared for a testosterone-heavy atmosphere.

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