Photo: Meine Wanderlust
New York City might not count as many members of the Iranian diaspora as Los Angeles does, but it still has its fair share of Persian hotspots. A little more less concentrated than in other cities, the Persian culinary scene in New York is alive and well, offering a lot more than basic kebob skewers. From sit-down establishments to take-out lunch operations and speciality food stores, here’s the guide to the best Iranian food in New York City. For more places to eat and drink right now, check out the BlackBook city guides.
Taste of Persia
What: It’s almost too easy to overlook this Persian take-out operation that’s nothing more than a counter inside a hole-in-the-wall Flatiron pizza place. Seriously. The 3-5 item menu changes regularly but the speciality is ash reshteh, a hearty noodle soup made with thin noodles, kashk, a whey-like dairy product, lentils, and herbs like parsley, spinach, and dill.
Good for: Take-out lunch at work
Where: 12 West 18th St. at Fifth Ave
What: A Persian café that’s a hybrid of the bohemian coffeehouses of old-time Greenwich Village and the intellectual salons of pre-Islamic Republic Iran. The name comes from Tehran’s 1928 Naderi Cafe, the historical hang of Persian writers and philosophers. Its location near NYU brings laptops out during the day, but when the the sun sets, the Iranian literati in New York come out of the woodwork to drink tea with sugar cubes and munch on small plates of yogurt, radishes, and lavash.
Good for: A cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a light bite
Where: 16 West 8th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves
Photo: Café Nadery
What: Ask any Iranian in New York where to get the best traditional Persian food, and they’ll point to Ravagh. Come hungry — and know that for the most authentic meal, you’ll have to ditch your vegetarian principles. Start with puréed eggplant and yogurt appetizers before moving on to the kebobs (koobideh and barg), and get a stew — fesenjan, ghormeh sabzi, or khoresh gheimeh — to share with the table.
Good for: Sit-down dinner for the traditionalist
Where: Three Manhattan locations: 11 East 30th. between Fifth and Madison; 1237 First Ave. at 67th St.; 125 First Ave. at 8th St.
What: Serving simpler and slightly lighter fare than its other Manhattan counterparts, Persepolis on the Upper East Side caters to vegetarians and pescatarians with split-pea and eggplant stews and grilled fish. Of course, there’s plenty of kebob entrées to choose from, but instead of ordering a side of steamed rice, get the basmati polo, made with dill and fava beans. The name is a nod to the Persepolis soccer team, which the owner played on in the pre-revolution seventies.
Good for: Sit-down dinner if you’re looking for vegetarian options
Where: 1407 Second Ave. at 73rd St.
What: The handful of Persian restaurants in New York City might have something to do with the fact that Iranian culture emphasizes at-home cooking over dining out. Not a Persian grocery store per se, Sahadi’s in Brooklyn Heights is a international specialty food market where you’ll find everything from dates and baklava to spices and basmati rice. Anything you could possibly need to cook a Persian meal at home can be found here.
Good for: International specialty foods
Where: 187 Atlantic Ave. between Clinton and Court St.