Iran’s spiritual capital is awash with hungry pilgrims looking to sample the array of culinary delights Mashhad has to offer. Whilst traditional Iranian fare dominates the restaurant scene, international options are available to those in-the-know, as well as a smattering of fast food outlets. Here we review 10 of the best places to eat when visiting the Shia heart of Iran.
Hezardestan Traditional Teahouse is one of Mashhad’s most picturesque dining settings, located centrally in the Jannat Mall. Offering a modest menu of traditional Iranian food (their aubergine stew comes particularly recommended), Hezardestan is tastefully decorated with tiled floors, Persian carpets and cultural trinkets. Its walls are adorned with calligraphy and murals depicting scenes from the Persian Shahnameh, or Book of Kings. Live music is also performed most nights.
Address: Jannat Street, Mashhad, Iran, +98 511 222 2943
Pesaran-e Karim is a bustling yet classy restaurant with two branches in the center of Mashhad. Pesaran is almost always full to the brim and noisy, a testament to its popularity with the locals for its authentic Iranian grub. A great venue for meat-lovers in particular, the mahicheh (lamb shank with saffron) is their signature dish, best enjoyed alongside a delicious baghali polo (herbed rice with broad beans).
Address: 22nd Farhad St., Sajjad Blvd. (Khayyam Blvd.), and Alton Tower (Daneshgah Blvd.), Mashhad, Iran, +98 051 853 0014
Located in west Mashhad, a few blocks north of Kuh Sangi Park, is Grill House Pizzeria, home to some of the best pizzas in Mashhad. With its plastic tablecloths and in-and-out philosophy, Grill House doesn’t make for the most aesthetically engaging restaurant experience, but its pizzas and friendly staff will have you coming back for more. Classic Iranian-style pizzas (crispy bases and heavy on the sauce) are the order of the day, every day. A very affordable alternative to the starchy staples of Mashhad’s gastronomic scene.
Address: Abouzar Ghaffari Boulevard, Mashhad, Iran
The glitzy interior of Moein Darbari Restaurant, vaguely reminiscent of the mirrored tile work of the nearby shrine, doesn’t seem to hurt its popularity with a clientele who come for the hearty food with a home-cooked feel. The kebabs are crowd-favorites, particularly the shishlik, and the staff are amiable and speedy.
Address: Nofel Lowshatow 16, Mashhad, Iran, +98 51 3878 3777
With its redbrick interior and tasteful mood lighting, Café Nabat has a decidedly European feel to it, offering a counterpoint to the city’s predominantly traditional orientation. Nabat serves a more than adequate range of teas, coffees, and cakes, but the highlight has to be its continental breakfast, complete with croissants, fried eggs, and chips. Popular with students and young Iranians, Café Nabat is a great venue to witness another face of Mashhad.
Address: Salman-e Farsi, Mashhad, Iran
Not far from Ferdowsi Square, Ace Burger is one of the top fast food joints in town. Clean, professional, and actually speedy (which is not always a given with Iranian fast food), Ace Burger offers its customers a number of delightfully greasy options. Despite its name, the fried chicken is the most popular piece on the menu, although the cheeseburgers aren’t too shabby either.
Address: Ghazi Tabatabaei Street, Mashhad, Iran, +98 51 3726 1050