There are a handful of local restaurants that claim to serve Persian or Iranian cuisine. The most well-known is probably Habib’s, a family-style eatery and market that recently moved into a former Red Robin on Decatur Boulevard. But maybe the most accessible—and bang-for-your-buck delicious—is Flame Kabob, which has outposts on the east and west sides of the Valley.
- Flame Kabob
- 10895 S. Eastern Ave., 438-7400; 8665 W. Flamingo Road, 431-0677
- Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, noon-8 p.m.
Persian food is often lumped into big, broad categories like “Middle Eastern” or “Mediterranean” so that we lumbering westerners can make some sense of it all. But it might be most similar to Greek or Turkish cuisine, especially in that rice and bread are the staples. The light and fluffy, multicolored long-grain rice that comes with everything at Flame Kabob is both beautiful and tasty, and the taftoon bread—cooked on the interior walls of a traditional clay oven—is crisp and chewy, the perfect tool with which to scoop creamy hummus and brilliant, non-bitter baba ghanoush into your face. This bread is closer to pita than naan, thinner yet dense, and it’s made fresh to order.
Of course, the kabobs are the thing here, long, glistening limbs of minced meat and spices called kubideh. A plate of rice, vegetables and two of these babies costs $10. It will seem like far too much food, but the meat is too good, tender beyond belief and exploding with flavor, not to finish the entire meal. Lamb is the traditional choice, and it’s rich, juicy and well-seasoned with black pepper, garlic, sumac and turmeric. You can also go for ground beef or chicken.
There’s also shish kabob, grilled chunks of marinated meat, or you can wrap your favorite ingredients into a huge, satisfying shawarma. For a side dish or appetizer, I really like this version of dolmeh, or stuffed grape leaves, a soft, moist, almost sweet rendition in a one-bite size. At a couple bucks for five pieces, they’re hard to pass up, too.