When a restaurant has only one item on the menu and people line up around the block to eat it, you know they make that one item to absolute perfection. Dizi Sara starts you off with a variety of pickled vegetables, yogurt, salad, fresh bread, and a pitcher of doogh (a yogurt drink) before delivering one dizi per person. This stew of lamb, potatoes, and legumes is cooked in a clay pot, with the liquid eaten separately. To finish, sweet, sticky bamieh and hot tea are served, to throw you right into a food coma. While enjoying this divine meal, take time to enjoy the mosaics and paintings in this traditional restaurant.
Tucked in the heart of Yazd’s winding alleyways, the charming Silk Road Hotel is a restored traditional house. The serene courtyard is an excellent place to stop for lunch, perhaps before or after you visit Jameh Mosque, which is just footsteps away. Although international dishes feature on the menu, we recommend trying the specialties of the city, such as shuli, a tasty vegetarian soup of white beets and celery, and the camel stew with potatoes. Follow your meal with some tea and meet a few fellow travelers as you plan your next sightseeing venture.
There are no chairs in this restaurant, but as long as you can tolerate sitting on the traditional Iranian daybeds to eat, you’ll be OK. One of the most beautiful in Esfahan, this colorful restaurant is located upstairs, just past Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and has recreated a Qajar-style atmosphere with stained glass windows and wooden shutters. It is just as popular with locals as it is with tourists. Grab a table outside if it’s not too crowded, and then head downstairs to the tiny Cafe Espadana to enjoy a tea or coffee in the shady courtyard.
Traditional Banquet Hall, Naghsh-e-jahan Sq, Esfahan, +98 31 1221 9068
Unless you’re a vegetarian, don’t even think about leaving Esfahan without trying their famed beryani, minced lamb or mutton with spices and almond slivers cooked in a small, flat pan and served over hot flatbread. Beryani Azam, which specializes in this one dish, is where all the locals go, which is always a good sign.
Beryani Azam, Kamal Esmaeel St., Esfahan, +98 31 1212 5730
A must-stop on your walk through Kerman’s Grand Bazaar is Vakil Teahouse, a restored bathhouse. The lively ambiance, vaulted halls, and live music may turn a short stop for tea into a leisurely meal followed by some hookah. A great place to taste Kerman’s specialty dish, bozghormeh (a stew made with mutton), it’s also the best place to try the city’s famous minced date and walnut-filled cookie, kolompeh, and noodle dessert, faloodeh, which is somewhat different from its better known Shirazi counterpart.
Vakil Teahouse, Bazaar-e Ganjalikhan, Vakil Bazaar, Kerman +98 34 1222 5989