A friend offered me a belated birthday lunch last weekend and I cogitated for a while before I figured out that I hadn’t been to Pars Deli in far too long, and I was hankering for some of their fantastic north central Persian and Middle Eastern food.
We rendezvoused at her place and headed on over around noonish or a little after. Here’s the weird thing. Pars was almost empty, although they had a respectable table count by the time we left, but Trudy’s was packed with a gaggle of the clueless waiting out front, just across the parking lot. Nothing against Trudy’s, but weigh the two against each other and I know where I’m going, especially if Trudy’s has a wait for a table and I can stroll right into Pars Deli.
Anyway, we perused the menu and settled on an order of hummus, a bowl of the pomegranate soup, the veggie wrap minus the wrapping, a ground meat kebab plate, and a bowl of the eggplant and beef stew. Their humus is great, beginning with dried chickpeas that are cooked from scratch, high quality olive oil, and ample roasted garlic; the ideal schmear with some fresh pita bread. The pomegranate soup is unusual and freakily dynamite: a rich stock with five kinds of beans, bulgur, herbs, and pomegranate juice, producing rich nuttiness complemented by a fruity tartness.
I’m a big fan of Pars' ground meat kebab, presented here with two swords’ worth, some onion and a whole grilled tomato, flatbread, tzatziki sauce, and a bowl of a crazy good but simple cucumber-onion-tomato-parsley salad on the side, all resting on a big pita. Here’s what makes it great: the meat is high quality, well-seasoned, and cooked to a perfectly juicy “medium”. Most other places overcook ground meat kebabs into rubberdom.
My friend wanted a spinach fix and had the veggie special wrap, which consisted of a big pile of just-cooked spinach sautéed in olive oil with garlic, mushrooms, and pine nuts. There was probably some goat cheese in there also, but I couldn’t go back and check since the menu isn’t online. I love the owners, Kobra Kadfhar and Sam Roostaie, but come on guys, do yourselves a big favor and get the menu online! Fluff up that Facebook page a bit and let the public know what you have, or better yet, establish a web page! I guarantee that one of your regulars is a techie and could do all that stuff for you on a barter basis. Regardless of the ingredient list, the spinach is delicious.
The last dish was the bademjon, a rich, garlicky stew with big chunks of smoky eggplant and pieces of tender beef. There are some lentils floating around in there, along with some herbs and spices, and it comes with Pars' exemplary rice, with every single grain of rice a solitary soldier; no mushy rice here. This is a great dish, and one my friend hogged right up; I was only offered a few bites. We were stuffed or I would have ordered a yummy baklava.
Why do I keep going back to Pars Deli? Because it’s a top-notch spot for Persian and Middle Eastern that is way underrated, with a laid back atmosphere, delicious food at good prices, and friendly service.
8820 Burnet Rd., (512) 452-4888
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