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You’ve certainly heard of how delicious Iranian food can be, but knowing where to go for authentic Iranian cuisine in Tehran, a city of nearly 10 million people, can get tricky. Below are some of our favorite spots in the capital that contribute to the famed reputation of Iranian cuisine. Noosh-e jaan!
Below the Hesabi museum in Fereshteh is a hole in a wall with no name, composed of a room with gas cookers and mismatched tables and chairs. No one here speaks English, but that shouldn’t be a problem because only one dish is served: ‘omlet.’ Iranian omelette is simmered in generous coatings of butter and tomato puree and served with fresh barbari bread and strong tea. Traditionally, this cafeteria would have been open only to men, but nowadays women occupy most of the seats. The place serves breakfast only, so it’s best to arrive before 11 a.m.
Beginning of Shahid Darbandi St, Fereshteh
From Akbari crossroads, walk up Darbandi toward Tajrish square and the location is immediately on your left (before Shahr-e Ketab Fereshteh bookstore)
Dizi, also called ‘Abgoosht’, is a unique Iranian stew of lamb chunks thickened with chickpeas, potatoes, tomatoes, turmeric and dried lime. Once the stew is cooked, the solids are separated from the broth and are mashed. The mashed solids and broth are served together but in separate dishes, along with flatbread, onions and greens. Dizi Iranshahr specializes in this dish only, serving one of the city’s finest. Waiting in the queue outside can take hours, especially on Fridays. The traditional decor, replete with ‘ghaveh khoune’ paintings and tiles, is made for a perfect Instagram shot.
Karimkhan Zand St, Iranshahr St, 52 Kalantari St +98 21 88 81 00 08
Iran is quite a big country and its cuisine differs immensely from north to south. Gilac specializes in Iranian cuisine from the north — subtle, soft stews and fish. The detailed menu, luckily, is available in English. We recommend the sturgeon, the kabab torsh and the baghali ghatogh (a great vegetarian dish of fava beans, dill and egg). Make sure you leave enough room for the strong tea and baklava selection at the end, and expect to pay western prices.
Tehran Province, Tehran, No 15 Parc de Prince, Hakim Azam St, Iran +98 21 88 03 04 04
It’s difficult to say much more about Golrezaei other than ‘it’s an institution’. One of the few restaurants to have understood that Iranian home cuisine is much more attractive than the standard kabab, Golrezaie has been dishing out authentic Iranian food since the 1940s. The dripped yogurt with walnuts and dill is the perfect summer cooler, while the famed borscht will make a snowy winter lunch in Tehran feel magical. Such authenticity is found not only in the restaurant’s cuisine, but also decor, furniture and ambiance, as Golrezaei has modeled itself over the decades in the image of its clientele of thinkers, artists and intellectuals. Its central location close to many tourist attractions makes it an indispensable tick to check off your restaurant list!
172 Si-Tir St, Jomhouri Eslami St +98 21 66 70 72 90
Sitting inside Khoone, you’ll get the feel of traveling through an Iran of a time past in a cozy, antiquated train car. The extensive menu changes daily, inviting visitors to explore the rich diversity of Iranian cuisine. Khoone, meaning ‘home’ in Farsi, was created specifically to bring back the country’s rich and refined stews, its variety of rice dishes and multitude of traditional Iranian homemade drinks. To top it off, the restaurant is frequented mostly by locals which is, as popular understanding goes, a good sign!
End of East Kaman Dead End, Shahidi Street, East Haqqani Highway (in front of Pol-e Tabiat park)
+98 21 43937 (yes the digit combo is different but legit!)
If you’ve been traveling extensively through Iran, chances are you’re fed up with kabab. However, there’s one place that does it so well that it has become a must-visit in Tehran: Yas. As well as being a restaurant with a warm, family ambiance, Yas serves the juiciest kabab this side of the Persian Gulf. Here, the chefs appreciate that meat can be cooked in ranges other than well done, as the prerequisite to a succulent kebab is the juiciness of the meat blending into the fluffy rice, the ripe tomato and chargrilled pepper. Simply divine!
1425 Valiasr Street, Opposite Mellat Park +98 21 22 01 10 20
A faint shadow of its former self, this cafeteria is a well known joint by generations of Tehranis. Literally meaning ‘paradise’, Pardis used to be the go-to place for an excellent tah-chin bademjaan (meat, tomatoes and eggplant cooked in yogurt-soaked rice). Too much traffic may have brought standards down over the years, but if you’re uptown (north of Vanak square) on a cold windy day, Pardis can be counted on for a solid plate of comfort food.
2776 Valiasr St, Above Park Way +98 21 22 66 64 66