Where to find the Persian dishes that are gaining international recognition.
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If you’re looking for brand new, internationally acclaimed cuisine, you don’t have to trek downtown to get it. Instead, look no further than a tiny eatery in Belmont.
That’s according to Condé Nast Traveler, who just named Café Vanak, a fast-casual eatery you’ll find next to a Persian food market on Belmont Street, as one of the world’s best new restaurants.
The magazine giant has placed Vanak on its map of the world’s best restaurants worth visiting, a list that this year includes Michelin-starred spots and off-the-beaten-track recommendations from around the world.
Vanak is one of only 79 restaurants in North America to make it, and the only one in New England.
To make his selections, Traveler asked a list of famous chefs for their suggestions for hot new restaurants they suggest and compiled them into a virtual map. In Vanak’s case, it was cookbook author and New York City-based chef Mina Stone who offered this particular hot tip. In her review, she praised the joojeh chicken kabob and shirazi salad, stating that everything she tried was “delicious, juicy and perfect.”
Located right next to a grocery store owned by the same family, the café opened late last year on the site of the former Seta’s café.
Reached by phone, owner Zohreh Beheshti says that she and her employees are overjoyed at the honor. “We’re so excited,” she says. “I put my life into this.” The response from patrons was immediate, she says, and the restaurant has never been busier. When she’s not taking calls from the press, she’s recruiting to keep up with demand.
What makes her small restaurant worthy of being placed on such a big global stage, she says, the Greek-influenced Persian cuisine is prepared from the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, sourced from nearly two dozen suppliers. The recipes, she says, come straight from her own kitchen, where she learned how to properly roast a kebab and fold a vine leaf from her mother years ago.
What she suggests to all these newbies is hard for her to suggest, but you can’t go wrong with the kabobs and lamb shanks with broad beans and dill rice. Her secret weapon, she says, is Vanak’s heavy use of imported saffron, the prized aromatic spice found in several of the cafe’s dishes.
However, if you plan to visit, be prepared to wait your turn.