Darband Persian restaurant

Many Iranian residents in Budapest would tell you that Darband is the city's best Persian restaurant. The nondescript entrance and the below-ground, modest space belie the wonderful dishes that come out of the restaurant's kitchen. The dining booths that line Darband's rather drab interior are each named after an old Tehran street. More importantly, both the restaurant's owner and its head chef are Iranian natives.

The two must-have starters are the kashk e bademjan (€7), a warm, creamy eggplant spread, and the zeytoon parvardeh meze (€3), which is an olive oil dip marinated in pomegranate molasses, walnuts, garlic, mint, and dried oregano leaves. Don't miss them. In Iranian fashion, sip a glass of doogh with your meal, a popular Iranian carbonated yogurt drink.

The mains comprise Iranian homestyle stews (khoresh) and kebabs. Of the khoresh, go for the ghormeh sabzi (€7), a classic herb stew often considered the national dish of Iran. A sauteed mixture of herbs are mixed together with morsels of stewed beef and served with basmati rice.

As for Darband's kebabs, I'm convinced that they are the best in Budapest. Especially the koobideh (€9), long strips of juicy, flavorful mixture of ground beef and lamb, paired with buttery rice and a grilled tomato. The rack of lamb (shishlik) was also excellent (€15), but the barg kebab, made with beef tenderloin, was a bit dry on my visit.

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