My father will also be traveling to Tajikistan soon, and I've been looking (unsuccessfully) for restaurant recommendations for him. Then, just last week, there was this post in the Tablehopping blog in my local (Albany NY) paper:
Sounds pretty grim!
My father has written a nice review of his dining adventures in Dushanbe. Here it is:
Restaurants in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, October, 2008.
There are many very good, very reasonably priced restaurants in this lovely city. Taxis are reasonably priced–you should first negotiate a price. As of this writing there are about 3 Somoni to a U.S. dollar. One should also be aware that there are no street signs and very few street numbers posted. That said, city maps are available and once one locates the landmarks, restaurants are easy to find. Vegetables and fruits are local, fresh, and taste much better than in the U.S.
Parisian Restaurant (in VEFA Center) Bokhtar St. (3rd fl.)
This is a nice dressy place. Salads are wonderful with tasty tomato and crispy cucumbers. The bagels on the Thursday Special are quite good. Prices moderate at lunch.
Rohat Tea House, 84 Rudaki Ave.
A beautiful open air setting on 2 floors and a large outdoor patio. There is an English menu, but few servers speak English. The food is typical Tajik and European, with many kabob variations. Larchman soups are a traditional dish and are delicious. The mutton shashlik was good, but a bit chewy. The “buckywheat” was great, “Seizer Salad” contains cabbage, lots of cheese and small pieces of chicken. Vegetarians should find enough menu items. Two ate well for $28.
Town Of Delicious Food, 67 Rudaki Ave. (Across from the big park with fountains)
This is probably considered the best Chinese restaurant in Dushanbe. There is an extensive menu, huge portions and seasoned to your taste. English menu, and English speaking servers.
Hot and chili soup is vegetarian and comes in a big bowl. Enough for 3 people. The chicken with pineapple is typical sweet and sour chicken, but better, as the chicken is very lightly battered. Lots of vegetarian dishes, and many mutton dishes. Menu items are quite different than those found in American Chinese restaurants. Two ate well for $20.
Argili Restaurant, 23/4 Bokhtar St. Right next to the VEFA Center.
This is a very small, beautifully decorated, Arabic/Tajik/European restaurant. There are 3 booths for 7 people and one booth for 4. Weekends there are 2 belly dancers and a decent singer. There will be a $5.00 (15 Somoni) cover charge per person. Food is delicious, adequately portioned, with extensive menu choices, an English menu and English is spoken. The beet salad appetizer is huge and tasty, the veal stuffed with prunes is sumptuous and there are adequate vegetarian selections. Tajik Vodka is $5.00 per bottle and any not consumed can go home with you. Without the cover charge, two ate for $20. A great bargain for terrific food.
Salsa, 1 Karamona St.
This is a lovely decorated Ecuadorean, Mexican, Italian restaurant. There is a complete English menu and English is spoken. This is really an outlier in an off-the-normal-track country. Hookahs are available for smoking. Empanadas and the Arroz con pollo are great and the vegetarian lasagna was excellent. The garlic bread was mostly garlic. For four people, 3 shots of vodka, 3 desserts, and 4 entrees cost $45. Don’t miss this place. The llapingachos (fried potato patty) are not to be missed.
Merve Restaurant, 47 Drujbi Narodov (Friendship of Peoples) St. A bowling alley is on the second floor.
This is a fun, busy, Turkish restaurant with lots of families eating, a high noise level, good food and service. There is an English menu, but little English is spoken, but all items on the menu are pictured. There are an adequate number of menu items, including vegetarian, so one eats well. No alcohol is served. The cake and baklava deserts are fabulous and gelato is also available. Three people ate for $22.
Eurasia, 81 Rudaki Ave.
This is a popular Russian style restaurant just below the TSUM. There is an extensive English menu and English is spoken. The food is good and prices are reasonable.
Maxx Cafe, 70 Rudaki Ave., set back from the street. This is fast food hamburgers and cheeseburgers among several other menu items. Some English is spoken. A cheeseburger and RC Cola were about $3.50. Good for a quick lunch burger.