Condé Nast Just Named a Belmont Cafe One of the Best Restaurants in the World

Where to find the Persian dishes garnering international acclaim.

Photo courtesy of Café Vanak.

If you’re in the market for brand new, internationally lauded cuisine, you won’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, which has just named Café Vanak, a fast-casual joint you’ll find next to a Persian food market on Belmont Street, as one of the best new restaurants in the world.

The magazine giant put Vanak on its map of the world’s best restaurants that are worth a trip to visit, a list that this year includes Michelin-starred spots and off-the-beaten path recommendations from around the world.

Vanak is one of just 79 restaurants in North America to make the cut, and the only one in New England.

To make its selections, Traveler asked a roster of celebrity chefs for their suggestions on 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 up this particular hot tip. In her review, she praised the Joojeh chicken kabob and Shirazi salad, and decreed that everything she’s sampled is “delicious, juicy, and perfect.”


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The café can be found right next door to a grocery store owned by the same family, and opened late last year at the site of the former Seta’s Cafe.

Reached by phone, owner Zohreh Beheshti says she and her staff are over the moon about the honor. “We’re so excited,” she says. “I put my life into this.” The response from diners has been immediate, she says, and the restaurant has never been busier. When she’s not fielding phone calls from the press, she’s been looking into hiring new staff to keep up with demand.

As for what makes her little eatery worthy of being put on such a big global stage, she says the Greek-influenced Persian cuisine is made from the freshest and highest quality ingredients sourced from nearly two-dozen suppliers. The recipes, she says, come straight out of her own kitchen, where she learned how to properly roast a kabob and fold a grape leaf from her mother years ago.

As for what she suggests for all these first-timers, she’s hard-pressed to make a suggestion, but you can’t go wrong with the kabobs and lamb shanks with fava beans and dill rice. Her secret weapon, she says, is Vanak’s heavy use of imported saffron, the prized aromatic spice that can be found in several of the café’s dishes.

If you’re planning a visit, though, prepare to wait your turn.


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