In the news: Reporters seem to be interested in the restaurant scene in town. They must be reaching their doom and gloom quota earlier and earlier in the month. CNN did a nice piece and you can check out the potentially bootleg video here. The German Press Agency did a piece and it has been picked up by a bunch of papers. Here is the English translation.

Back to our regularly scheduled rant:

I've been enjoying the Kabul restaurant scene since early 2002. Back before there was a restaurant scene in Kabul. And too many people don't know how good the food is here. Why? Because too many people spend all their time going to the same 4 restaurants on somebody's "approved" list

 
 

because they're always being told by their security directors that Kabul is so dangerous. Listen. Khandahar is dangerous. Khandahar is what Baghdad used to be and may be again. Lashkar Gah is its own ring of hell. Kabul? Kabul is a dirty, crowded, barely-functioning, kick-ass, vibrant city. These security directors don't want the home office in Indianapolis to know what Kabul is really like because then they won't get paid $1,000 a day. So people get shuttled between the office and the guesthouse every day like they're in some work-release program. Can you die a violent death in Kabul? Sure, and the most likely cause will be getting plowed over by a Blackwater convoy. Next Thursday night, have your Mommy drop you off at a friend's house, borrow your Program Assistant's cousin's nephew's Corolla and check out Kabul!

The restaurant reviews below are based on the classic evaluation criteria of the 3 Q's: Quality, Quantity and Quost. There are some very good restaurants that only get a moderate ranking because they're just so expensive. I make about as much in a month as a lot of people here make by Tuesday. If my favorite shooter is taking me out for dinner I'll enjoy just about anywhere. But if I'm scrounging in the bottom of my purse for those last crumpled dollars, the place can't just be good, it has to be a good value.
 


Zadar
Location: Shar-e Now, Butcher Street, first left, 5th house on the right
Vitals: Croatian/Bosnian, seafood; zadar-restaurant@hotmail.com; Saska: 0700-220884; UN approved, closed Friday
Details: I've been enjoying her food since she was on Taimani street how many years ago. Excellent fish and seafood and great Balkan dishes you cant pronounce. Nice cozy basement. When Saska's in the kitchen, this is some of the best food in town.

Taverna Du Liban
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan, 13th St, left on Lane 4
Vitals: Lebanese food; 0799-Tavern (828376)
Details:
The first Lebanese restaurant in town and still lovely. Wonderful couch area outside for relaxing, munching and sheesha-ing. Night after night consistently one of the best places in town.

Boccaccio
Location:
Main Wazir Akbar Khan Road, coming from the British Embassy toward Massoud Circle, right on Street 10, just before the Kam Air banner. Pass through 2 barricades, restaurant on the left. Look for the name on the tile wall.
Vitals: International/Italian food, pizza; 0799-200600; vilavelebita_kabul@yahoo.com
Details: I've had some really, really good meals here lately. The other night the caprese salad was made with real, actual, fresh mozzarella. Fantastic. The pasta has been great and the steaks, though pricey, still popular. And the waitstaff is still - ahem - as charming as ever.

Touch of Home Bakery
Location: Qalla-e Fatullah, Street 3 Turn right on Street 3, pass the neon camels on the left, park at the first little alley on the left and walk in, second gate on the right, green gate
Vitals: Bakery and catering; No store so order ahead for pickup 0797-324882
Details:
Cookies, cakes, pies, quiches, breads, tortillas, tortilla chips, cinnamon rolls and too much more. Full catering menu of international and Afghan dishes. So very, very good.

Wakhan Cafe
Location:
From Charyi Ansari go up Kolola Pushto road, just past the Dutch Embassy on the right, turn left on Street 5. On your left will be Park Palace Hotel. Look straight ahead to the end of the street, you'll see the top of an A-frame roof. That's it.
Vitals:
Coffee and cafe food; 0799-204030, 0799-222419, 0797-881881; http://wakhancafe.com/
Details:
Lovely garden and cafe with free wifi. Good coffee drinks and the food is improving. Good fries now and nice pizza. Great place to park it for an afternoon out of the office.

Istanbul
Location:
Microyan. Go down the main road from Massoud Circle toward Jalalabad Road Circle. After you pass Massoud Circle, start looking on the right for the sign, the restaurant is set back from the street. If you hit the right turn to go to ISAF/Shash Darak you just missed it.
Vitals: Turkish food; 0799-407818; fethullahy@yahoo.com
Details: So yummy, good prices. My favorites are the Iron Pan dinner and of course the baklava. And the salty Laban.

Golden Key Seafood
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan. Coming down the main road from the British Embassy take a left on 13 St, then a left on the 4th lane, you'll see the big sign on the left.
Vitals: Chinese food/seafood; 0799-002800; goldenkeyseafood@yahoo.com
Details: Best Chinese food in town. I love the prawn toast. And the mutton hotpot. And the dumplings.

EasyFood
Location:
Wherever you are
Vitals:
www.easyfood.af; 0796555000; 0796555001;  11am-9pm.
Details:
  Are you locked down or just plain lazy? Want to try some of these restaurants but just can't make it out of the guesthouse? There is a service in town that will deliver from some of the popular places. Go to the EasyFood website, make your selection from the menus available and then give them a call. 
 


Le Pelican Cafe du Kabul
Location: Darulaman Road, Just before you get to the Russian Embassy on your left, look on the right for a bright orange guard shack
Vitals: French bakery and cafe; closed Sunday - In proper French fashion, closed until mid-September
Details: Fantastic cafe food including soups and grilled sandwiches. Bakery includes breads and pastries, but make sure to leave the meringues for me.

Bella Italia
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan. Main Wazir Akbar Khan Road, coming from the British Embassy toward Massoud Circle, turn right on Street 14. At the end of the Street turn left and park across from Shandiz. Walk along the wall toward the Ariana Airlines sign, enter the gate under the Bella Italia sign.
Vitals:
Italian; 0799-600666; Lunch and Dinner Sunday through Friday
Details
Yummy Yummy pasta, fresh crispy salads and good soups. Pizza worth trying. Steaks a little over-priced but the new dessert prices are a good value.

Herat Restaurant
Location:
Shar- Now. Pass the Women's Ministry on your right, go down a couple blocks, look for Herat on the right hand corner across from the park. 2 blocks before Charyi Haji Yacub.
Vitals: Afghan food;
Details: The best lamb chops in the world. Make sure to have a woman in your group so you can sit in the Fishtank Family Room.

Cabul Coffeehouse and Cafe
Location:
Taimani Street 6 turn right or Qalla-e Fatullah Street 6 turn left
Vitals: Coffee shop/restaurant; 075-2005275; cabul_coffeehouse@yahoo.com
Details: They're so cool they were in the New York Times. Real-world coffeehouse drinks, burgers, breakfasts. It's not on the menu anymore, but if you're really nice they might make you my favorite grilled cheese/tomato/onion sandwich.

The Lounge Cafe
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan, Street 15, Lane 2, turn left, across from Mai Thai; closed Friday
Vitals: International food, western beverages
Details: Really nice, cozy, homey place with a small but well-done menu including soups, starters, pizza, curry and beef bourguignon.

New World
Location:
Shar-e Now. Toilet Street between Charyi Haji Yacub and Charyi Ansari, on the right in the first block.
Vitals:
Korean food; 0799-199509
Details:
The new location for an old favorite has all the ambiance of a Kabul wedding hall. But the food is still really good.

Central Hotel
Location:
Charyi Ansari between streets 1 and 2 on the right
Vitals:
Afgan and Italian food; breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday; 0752-008444, 0799-224097; http://centralhotelkabul.com/
Details:
Nice view from the 5th floor balcony and dining room. Breakfast and lunch buffets a great value. Fondues for dinner and delivery.

The Grill
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan. Main traffic circle by the British Embassy
Vitals:
Lebanese food; 0799-818283
Details:
Great food, great fresh juices, especially the lemon/mint juice. Best Sheesha in town. Comfy garden. Kick back on one of the couches.

French Bakery
Location:
Karte Char. Take Darulaman road out of the Deh Mazang traffic circle toward the rubble palace, make the first right there will be a gas station, down 1 block on the right
Vitals: Bakery/groceries; 0799-316337
Details: I'll never forget when they opened, the first doughnuts in town. They were heavy and greasy but they were still doughnuts. Now it's the best place for a to-go lunch when you're in the car riding around town all day and need something quick. Focacia pizza, fresh yoghurt (bring your own spoon) and spicy meat pastries.

Le Bistro
Location:
Shar-e Now. Behind Ministry of Interior, on the street parallel to Chicken Street. Coming down from the Kabul City Center with the Park on your left, make a right on the street at the end of the park, across from the gas station, then make the next left. If you survive the ride down this street for a long block you'll see the sign for Le Bistro hanging at the corner where you'll make the right turn, then the restaurant is on your right.
Vitals: French food; 0799-598852
Details: Open again with the same lovely croissants, quiches and other yummies.

T-Bones Butcher Shop/What-a-Burger Cafe
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan. Main Wazir Akbar Khan Road, coming from the British Embassy toward Massoud Circle, just past Street 10, just past the Kam Air banner, on the right. There will be a blue T-Bones sign and Fat Man Forest above the door.
Vitals:
Butcher shop/burger joint; 0700-298301; - Cafe closed for Ramadan but butcher shop open
Details:
A real butcher shop where they can custom cut to your liking. And upstairs burgers and chilli and steaks cooked to order.

Springfields
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan
Vitals:
Take-away/Delivery only; 0799-001520; free delivery within 3 km of Wazir, $5 further
Details:
For the time being, Springfields has closed the restaurant and is doing their full menu delivery/take away only. Steaks, pasta, pizza, salads. Arrives nice and hot in good condition.

Namaste
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan; Street 15 between lanes 2 and 3 on the right.
Vitals: Indian food; 0772-011120; info@namaste.com.af; www.namaste.com.af; Open everyday 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm
Details: Best Indian food in the country. Rogan Josh to savor. New cook has cranked up the heat factor past my modest capacity but enjoy if you can.

Delhi Durbar
Location:
Shar-e Now. Pass the Women's Ministry on your right, go another block and look for the sign and the guardhouse on the left just before UK Sports. Walk down the passageway, the entrance is off the courtyard.
Vitals: Indian food; 0799-324899
Details: This was one of the first restaurants in town years ago and it wasn't very good, but still we went there. The food has improved quite a bit since then and the garden is a nice place to spend time when the weather obliges. Don't miss the lassi.

Mai Thai
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan, Street 15, Lane 2, turn left
Vitals:
Thai food; 0796-423040
Details:
ne Lai Thai, Mai Thai is serving some of the same Thai dishes plus allegedly pizza. The big plus is the service is much friendlier and there is a nice selection of international beverages. The pad thai is still very, very orange though.

L'Atmosphere
Location:
Taimani Street 4 turn right or Qalla-e Fatullah Street 4 turn left. Down the middle of the block look for the guards and SUV's.
Vitals: French food/bar; closed Sundays; 0799-300264. No admittance after 10pm.
Details: Food is hit or miss, but always a great place to spend the evening. Service sucks.

Flower Street Cafe
Location:
Taimani Street 2 turn right or Qalla-e Fatullah Street 2 turn left. Look for the Teal-striped guard shack.
Vitals: Sandwiches; 0700-293124; flowerstreetcatering@hotmail.com;
Details: I was never a huge fan, but persistent coaxing by friends got me there a couple times for breakfast. Yep, real bacon. And my favorite Texan taught them to make real sweet tea.

Sufi
Location:
Shar-e Now. Butcher St. 2nd left, down on the right with a big sign
Vitals:
Afghan food; 0774-212256, 0700-210651; www.sufi.com.af
Details:
A nice place with good Afghan food. And Wednesday night live Afghan music, to be enjoyed or avoided at your discretion.

Red Hot & Sizzlin'
Location:
Microyan; Best bet the first time is to go with someone who's been there. But if you must, come from Wazir on the main road through Massoud circle, straight through the Jalalabad road circle and come across the river. Take the first right and go down until the end of the Russian apartment buildings on your left. Make a left at the shopping center with the pizza place on the corner. Make a left at the next traffic circle. Slow down. The first gate on the right might have a red chili pepper hanging up on a pole. That's it. Good luck.
Vitals: Steak, 0799-redhot (733468)
Details: You like steak? You like shooters? This is your place.

Silk Route
Location:
Serena Hotel
Vitals: Asian food; 0799-654000
Details: A random selection of various Asian dishes that get pricey but the atmosphere and service are excellent and the noodle dishes are a good value.

Cafe Zarnegar
Location:
Serena Hotel
Vitals: Buffet and ala carte international; 0799-654000
Details: The dinners and lunches are way overpriced but Friday Brunch is often the only reason to get out of bed after Thursday night. At $35 you may want to try to get someone else to treat, but if not, treat yourself once in a while. A forget-you're-in-Kabul experience. Just stay away from the sushi.

Anaar
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan; intersection of Street 14, lane 3
Vitals:
Indian/Chinese/Thai food; 0799-567291;11am-3pm, 7-11pm
Details:
These places that do a variety of cuisines often don't hit any of them just right. If you're in the neighborhood it can be convenient, but there is better Indian, Chinese and Thai in town.

Stores in town - There are quite a few good stores in town now, here are a few worth the visit.

  • Hamidi Market
    Location:
    Shar-e Now; coming down from Kabul City Center, in the new building on the left at the corner at the end of the park; look for the big Areeba sign
    Vitals:
    0700-275894, shoaibtaimorian@yahoo.com;
  • A-One
    Location:
    Shar-e Now; on street that runs across the end of the park; coming down from Kabul City Center turn left at the end of the park, on the right in the second block
  • Chelsea Market
    Location:
    Shar-e Now. Down the street 2 blocks from the Kabul City Center on the right across from Kabul Bank. Before Chicken Street.
  • Kabul Spinneys
    Location:
    Wazir Akbar Khan. Across the street from the British Embassy
  • Finest Supermarket
    Location:
    Wazir Akbar Khan. Main Wazir traffic circle on the corner of Street 15 next to the Grill Restaurant
    Location: Now a chain! Shar-e Naw. Corner of Charyi Haji Yacoub street 3 on the left
  • Karimi Supermarket
    Location:
    Karte Parwan. On the old British Embassy Street down from the main circle before the big mosque.
    Details: Make sure to head upstairs for great stuff that's fallen off some PX trucks.
  • Filet Butcher Shop
    Location:
    Shar-e Naw. Coming from Shar-e Naw park, turn right at Charyi Haji Yacoub. Pass Butcher Street on your right, look for it another half block down on your right. Big shiny building.
  • 15th Street Butcher or some other name
    Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. 15th Street, 2nd shop on the right just off main Wazir traffic circle
    Details: Often a good source of seafood and politically incorrect meat products.

 


Things are changing all the time in Kabul. And that goes for restaurants especially. Right now I'd skip these places, but as management, staff and/or clientele change they may be worth another look. Let me know.

Los Amigos
Location:
Shar-e Naw
Vitals:
Spanish/Steaks
Details:
The owner states that the restaurant is invitation only and not open to the public. I was invited recently and the meal was sadly a disappointment. If it becomes a public venue I'll give it another try.

Shandiz
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan; Pakistan Embassy Street, down before the barricades on the left
Vitals:
Iranian; 0799-342928
Details:
I really love the Shashlick (lamb chops) here and great pickled garlic and Iranian-style rice and yogurt. But the last time I went we sat at a table for 20 minutes and no one even acknowledged our existence much less brought us a menu. Maybe it was the Official No Food For Foreigners Day and I didn't get the memo. Just got up and walked out and no one even seemed to notice.

Rumi
Location:
Qalla-e Fatullah. Head up Qalla-e Fatullah Street from Medina Market and Rumi is on the left between streets 5 and 6. Look for the red sign near the curb.
Vitals: Afghan food; 0799-557021
Details: This has always been the best Afghan in town, but since Hashmat went to India it's been a train wreck. Great new menu, but they never have anything on it or the cook doesn't know how to make it. Twice I've been there lately totally frustrated. I'm not going back until they get their shit in gear.

Cappuccino Coffee House
Location:
Butcher Street, on left side of corner of 4th Street
Vitals: Coffee house, light food; 0752-041633; mycoffeehouse.cch@gmail.com
Details: A coffee house that aspires to be a gentlemen's club. Good place to go for foreign guys who think they "fit in". Not a comfortable vibe for white chicks - you know what I mean gals.

Lai Thai
Location:
Wazir restaurant now Mai Thai, branches inside ISAF KAIA and Camp Eggers
Vitals: Thai food; 0700-297557; laithaikabul@yahoo.com; only soft drinks
Details: The food has gotten pretty lousy and the prices are ridiculous, especially on KAIA since it's Euros.

Corner Pizzeria
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan; Swing around main circle and put The Grill on your right, head down the barricaded street to almost the end. You'll see big misspelled banners showing you the way.
Vitals:
Pizza; 0799-352116
Details:
Pizza's not awful. Not great, but not awful.

Gandamack
Location:
Shar-e Now; Between DHL and the Mustafa across the street from the secret police office.
Vitals:
International food/bar; www.gandamacklodge.co.uk
Details:
Nothing I say will change the fact that the Gandemack has its faithful following and always will. But still. The drink prices are off the chart, even with today's lousy supply. And those stupid-ass bar tickets. My favorite shooter tucked his book into his shirt pocket and then the shirt promptly ended up in the washer. I pulled a CSI Kabul and pieced $17 worth of them back together. I would have had less drama trying to use counterfeit Taliban-era afghanis to pay my bill. And the last time we were there we waited an hour just to get our starters. And yet, it's facetime central.

Cedar House
Location:
Shar-e Now. Behind Kabul City Center, catty-corner from Sitara. From Charyi Ansari, pass Kabul City Center on your right, turn right at the end of the block, just before you hit the park on your left. You'll see a sign for Sitara. On the next block look for a long white wall on your left with a sign for Cedar House.
Vitals:
Lebanese/Italian/Afghan; 0799-121412
Details:
The menu is now combined with Lebanon Palace, a few items from the former Bella Noche and some afghan selections. None of them very good.

Carlitos
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan. Heetal Hotel. At the bottom of the swimming pool hill at the end of Street 14.
Vitals: Mexican food; 0799-159697; www.heetal.com
Details: Just not any good.

Wazir's
Location:
Wazir Akbar Khan. Heetal Hotel. At the bottom of the swimming pool hill at the end of Street 14.
Vitals: International food; 0799-159697; www.heetal.com
Details: Just not any good. Seriously.

 


  • Diana Inn - Wazir Akbar Khan; Street #15 Lane 3 left; International; 0795-552555; 0795-553555; dianainn@aroma.com; www.dianainn.net
  • International Club - ne Maple Leaf Inn, ne International Club, ne German Club; Shar-e Now; Charyi Haji Yakub Street 3, turn left; International food;
  • Afghan Fried Chicken - Charyi Haji Yacoob, between streets 1 and 2 on the left
  • Chai Khana - Serena Hotel coffee shop
  • Carwan Sarai - carwansarai@yahoo.com; Shar-e Now. Across from the Ministry of Interior.
  • Kabul City Center Coffee Shop - coffee; in Kabul City Center at Charyahi Ansari
  • Everest Pizza - 0799-317979; Wazir Akbar Khan.
  • Shamiyana - 020-2203131; Safi Landmark Hotel, Shar-e Now, Charyi Ansari
  • Sky Line - 020-2203131;Safi Landmark Hotel, Shar-e Now, Charyi Ansari
  • H.B.S. Khajeyi - Shar-e Now; across from the park cinema
  • Khosha - Afghan/International food; 0799-888999; top floor of Golden Star Hotel; Charyi Haji Yacub
  • Camp Eggers DFAC - Military food; end of Pakistani Embassy street across from AIB Bank
  • ISAF Dining Hall - Military food; Shash Darak next to US Embassy
  • Ciano's - Italian groceries
  • RA Bakery- baked goods; 0799-386032
  • Intercontinental - Baghe Bala; several Afghan restaurants
     


Kabul can be a pretty transitory place and when you've been here 7 years you see a lot of restaurants come and go. Some we're sad to see go, some just needed to be gone. Let me know if I've forgotten any you remember.

  • Tabasco's
  • B's Place
  • Blue PX and Coffee Shop
  • La Fontaine
  • Royal Thai
  • The Ministry
  • Crazy 8
  • Chez Ivana
  • Milano's
  • Maple Leaf Inn
  • Popolano
  • Samarqand, again
  • Georgia Peach
  • Coco Cobana
  • Coco Loco
  • Elbow Room
  • Bahay Kubu
  • Deutcher Hof
  • Bella Noche
  • Baku
  • Kochee Coffee
  • Hong Kong
  • The Spot
  • Escalades
  • Jalsimar
  • Four Seasons
  • Supreme PX
  • Oscar's
  • Manila's Finest
  • Blue Bayou
  • Afghan Food Court
  • Kolba International
  • Chaila
  • La Cantina

Did I miss a place? Got a question, comment or rude opinion? Send it to Rosey.
Reviews last updated 16 September 2009.