Condé Nast named a Belmont cafe one of the best restaurants in the world


Where to find internationally renowned Persian dishes.

Photo courtesy of Café Vanak.

If you’re looking for brand new world-class cuisine, you won’t have to scour downtown to get it. Instead, look no further than a small restaurant in Belmont.

This is according to Condé Nast Travelerwhich 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 has put Vanak on its map of the world’s best restaurants worth visiting, a list that this year includes Michelin-starred restaurants and off-the-beaten-track recommendations from around the world.

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

To make your selections, Traveler asked a list 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 chef Mina Stone who offered that particular piece of advice. In her review, she praised the Joojeh chicken skewer and Shirazi salad, and decreed that everything she tasted was “delicious, juicy and perfect”.

The cafe sits right next to a family-owned grocery store and opened late last year on the site of the former Seta’s Cafe.

Reached by phone, owner Zohreh Beheshti says she and her staff are thrilled with the honour. “We are so excited,” she said. “I put my life into it.” The response from diners was immediate, she says, and the restaurant has never been busier. When she’s not fielding phone calls from the press, she’s looking to hire new employees to keep up with demand.

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

As for what she suggests to all those newbies, she struggles to come up with a suggestion, but you can’t go wrong with the skewers and lamb shanks with fava beans and dill rice. Her secret weapon, she says, is Vanak’s extensive use of imported saffron, the prized aromatic spice found in several cafe dishes.

If you are planning a visit, be prepared to wait your turn.

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