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Good Persian in San Diego?

I've tried Bandar and found it to be almost entirely unauthentic plus I've tried a couple of now defunct Persian places years ago but they all seemed to be a mix of French and Arab food with just the odd actual Persian recipe thrown in. The front page here at ChowHound got me thinking about Persian cuisine and now I'm hoping someone can recommend an actual authentic Persian place with top notch food in the San Diego area. One thing is sure and that is Bandar is not it.

I did look up some Persian places on the internet and found this: http://where2eat.com/San_Diego_Persia...

Does anyone have an experience with any of those restaurants?

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  1. From the "where to eat" link, I do like Alborz. Have been there quite a few times for lunch.
    Very fresh, large portions.

    Tiny (5 tables and 5 barstools) husband/wife run Persian is International Market and Grill in UTC area. I like it there also.

    1. What about Bandar did you find inauthentic (other than the hummus, which I ignore)? Although it can't compete with places in LA, my native Persian mother-in-law and husband think it's decent. (Then again, I've never seen my in-laws order anything at a Persian restaurant except for kabob, rice, kashk-e bademjan, and tahdig. They eat khoresht at home.) The kabob at Bandar is incredibly juicy in my experience, but I don't think I've eaten there for at least a year.

      I second the recommendation for International Market & Grill. They have kabob plates and sandwiches, and a daily special (khoresht, tahcheen, etc.). You also might try the Balboa International Market on Balboa or Parsian on Convoy.

      Many people like Soltan Banoo, but it really wasn't my thing. I ordered the kotlet, and the adas polo on the side was mushy and unappetizing. The kotlet didn't have much flavor, either.

      Some people love Sadaf, but I think it's only okay. We used to get takeout from the one in La Jolla, but decided that takeout from Balboa International Market was cheaper and better.

      1. I was turned on to Bandar by Persian co-workers. I'd be curious to know what's inauthentic about it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Josh

          I like Bandar as well. I'm not exactly an expert on Persian food so I can't comment about its authenticity, but I've eaten at a few Persian places in the Westwood area (which I assume are probably pretty authentic considering the middle eastern population in that area) and the food was pretty much the same type of stuff.

          The one negative thing I have to say about Bandar is that their bread isn't freshly made on the premise like some of the other places I've been to.

        2. There is a great little persian market in La Jolla right around the corner from El Pescador

          1 Reply
          1. re: kare_raisu

            do you know the name of the persian market next to El Pescador?

          2. Dario's in Carlsbad is quite tasty.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SeanT

              I just recently ate at Darios again. This mom/pop eatery is very pleasant and the food is reliably delicious. I had a barley chicken soup to die for there the other night and their kebabs tender and tasty. They sometimes have a selection of rice (dill/barberry/saffron) and the hummus is completely wonderful!

            2. People have asked what I found unauthentic about Bandar. Last time I was their the nightly special on the menu was grilled Atlantic salmon; I'm just feeling that isn't all that authentic. Yes, they do have some authentic dishes on the menu but I'm hoping to find a good restaurant which is almost entirely authentic.

              8 Replies
              1. re: oerdin

                Huh, strange. One special is enough for you to jump to such a conclusion? I have a Persian cookbook I got at one of the Persian markets in Kearny Mesa and I think I've seen most everything listed on Bandar's menu in it. The Persians who hipped me to Bandar were especially impressed that they had some of the more exotic rice dishes as well as the Cornish hen kebabs.

                1. re: Josh

                  Disclaimer: I am not Persian. However, my business partner is Persian, as is a majority of our clients, staff, and friends. I had never had Persian food until about 2 years ago. I can only tell you what I like, and what I have heard amongst everyone I know.

                  I work in the Cortez Hill part of downtown San Diego, and the easiest, quickest Persian meal is at Darband. It's also known as Fifth Avenue Grill. It's a small place, hot inside, and really a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, but it is almost always 70% capacity. Men outside smoking, playing backgammon, and drinking tea. I've not had a bad meal there. I personally like the stews, and from what I've been told, that's what Darband is known to do well. The stews are usually daily specials, and my personal favorite is the eggplant and beef stew (Wednesday's daily special, if I am not mistaken). The stews come with a heaping mound of saffron rice, a salad (usually shirazi or maust-o khiyar), some flat-bread (store bought), and a plate with limes, peppers, and pats of butter. I hit this place up a couple times a week.

                  Bandar is almost universally respected and liked amongst my business partner and his friends. Where Darband has good stews, the highlight at Bandar is the cuts of meat, the cleanliness, and the atmosphere. It's right on 4th avenue in the Gaslamp part of downtown. I like to sit outside and people-watch. The Adas Polo and Zereshk Polo are my personal favorites. Each piece of chicken is the size of a small fist, and so tender, the knife is unnecessary. The meal starts with a plate of heaping salad, with really tart feta cheese. I could eat just that for a meal. The meat dishes are plentiful, and I usually take half home for dinner. The service has always been great, and the owner usually sits down and chats it up with us.

                  Another popular spot is Soltan Banoo. I've only been a couple times, and not had a bad meal. My business partner remarks that Soltan Banoo is actually his favorite, as it reminds him of home-cooked Persian. I rarely drive up to North Park, and when I do, I usually am headed to El Zarape. The owners at Soltan Banoo are really pleasant, and I really need to make a point to go back.

                  Two places that are on my to-do list that I have also heard great things about are Balboa Market and Panini Cafe in La Jolla. I've heard both have really good kebabs.

                  And, not to get off topic, but I have also been keen on the Kebab House on 9th. They make Doner Kebabs. From what I understand, these are a Turkish style kebab that have been Europeanized (is that a word?). Doner kebabs are apparently very popular throughout Europe, and I sure like the ones made at Kebab House. I've started working this spot into my rotation. The prices are fantastic as well.

                  Anyways, I am always on Chowhound searching for "Persian Food", so I figured I was due to throw in my two cents.

                  1. re: j_bonies

                    Thanks for the lengthy post. I've been to Darband before and had kebabs, which weren't too impressive - so hearing they're known for their stews makes a lot of sense. There used to be a place down in Sports Arena called Pars which was really good for both stews and kebabs. Like Darband, it was always full with guys playing backgammon and drinking tea (great tea!). They have since closed, but the stews are really what stand out in my mind.

                    Balboa Market is good, as is Parsian International Market and Deli (which used to occupy the space now occupied by Balboa) on Convoy St. They do fresh-cooked bread, and it is awesome.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Yeah, the kebabs at Darband are alright, but do try the stews. The lamb shank at Darband is also pretty good (another daily special). My staff and I walk up the street a couple times a week to grab a bite there.

                      I've been to Parsian, and liked it. The drive is a bit much, so I don't get a chance to go over there during the week. That I've gotten yet another rec for Balboa Market, I really need to go over there now. Thanks.

                      1. re: j_bonies

                        I've been wondering where the name "Parsian" came from for the market on Convoy. It is just a different spelling of "Persian"? For the longest time I thought that it said "Parisian Market" and assumed it was a french market until I read about the place on here.

                        1. re: mliew

                          It is pronounced Pars ee ahn. It is the Farsi version of the word persian.

                    2. re: j_bonies

                      I am also very much interested in Kebab House and yes, you are correct Doner Kebabs are very popular throughout Europe but were not invented in Turkey but from Turkish immigrants in Berlin.

                2. I live downtown and prefer Sadaf (they also have a La Jolla location) to Bandar...their house salad (with squeezed lemon) is superb; I find their chicken dishes more juicier and tender, and their rice is a bit more flavorful.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: El Chevere

                    I'm not Persian but my Persian friends swear by the daily specials at Soltaan Banoo. Personally, I think their Pomegranate Lentil Soup is amazing and I rarely order anything else. Maybe a salad. Great little place. I remember when they used to be Caspian Corner across the street next to El Zarape.

                    1. re: Ewilensky

                      I went with a friend to Soltaan Banoo. It was great. It's run by a mother and daughter, and they're so nice. The food is incredible, and the prices are great.