Darband Persian restaurant

Most Iranian residents in Budapest claim that Darband is the city's best Persian restaurant. That Darband’s owner and one of its chefs are both Iranians inspires further confidence. The subterranean space just off Budapest’s Downtown is lined with dining booths, each named after an old Tehran street. The mosaic tile tables and photos on the walls of Iran try to spruce up the otherwise puritan interior.

The two must-haves starters at Darband are the kashke bademjan, a warm, creamy eggplant spread topped with fried onions, kashk, and mint, and the zeytoon parvardeh meze, which is an olive oil dip marinated in pomegranate paste, walnuts, garlic, mint, and dried oregano leaves. Don't miss them.

Most main dishes comprise Iranian homestyle stews (khoresh) and kebabs. Of the khoresh, go for the ghormeh sabzi (€7), an Iranian classic herb stew often considered their national dish. A sauteed mixture of basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, mint, and beans is mixed together with pieces of stewed beef and served with basmati rice. On the kebab front, I enjoyed most the koobideh (€8), three long strips of juicy, flavorful mixed ground meat of beef and lamb paired with buttery rice and a grilled tomato. The rack of lamb (shishlik) was also excellent (€15). The barg kebab, made with beef tenderloin, was a bit dry when I visited.

In Iranian fashion, sip a glass of doogh with your meal, a popular Iranian salted and carbonated yogurt drink with an acidic tang.