When it comes to delicious mouthwatering food and cousins, literally every city of Iran has one or two words to say. The same thing can be said for the historically-prominent town of Isfahan, in the heart of Iran’s central desert. Aside from the bountiful mud-brick bridges, architecturally-significant mosques, traditional houses turned into semi-modern hostels and guesthouses, and old-fashioned stone walkways throughout the city, the lavishing Isfahani dishes bombed with unique spices and mountain of rice and meat too put this mind-blowing city on the radar of any traveler. However, to eat the best meals, you need to find the best restaurants in Isfahan, and we know how hard that could be for some tourists, especially the first-timers, to locate them in this vast city. So, stay with us through this piece while we shed some light on some of the “Best Restaurants in Isfahan” and show you to the seats of the most beloved diners in the heart of Iran’s culture.
You can book Isfahan hotels online through 1stQuest.
Sofreh Khane Sonnati
We start our tasty piece with one of the best spots in Isfahan and what place would’ve been better for this well-known small-sized food festival right down in the middle of Isfahan’s most iconic square, the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, encircled by a long-list of historically-irreplaceable mosques, royal courts, and standing-tall architectural marvels.
The Sofreh Khaneh is smack-down in the middle of the most prestigious square in the city, and this might get you worried; since with popularity comes high demand, and that may result in deterioration of overall quality of the restaurant. Regardless, the management of this long-hauled diner has taken care of this problem impressively and has managed to keep the food quality on a top-notch level still, something that can’t be said for the total number of sittings and flocks of people overcrowding the traditional restaurant.
Having the spotlight on it as one of the best diners in one of the best locations in Isfahan has bought this Sofreh Khaneh a lot of attention and customers, so much that you shouldn’t expect to walk into a quiet and uncrowded ambiance. If you want to eat in a more relaxed and less noisy environment, we recommend getting a seat at less popular hours. For example, in the night (say around 8-9 P.M) or after the restaurant’s rush hour in the middle of the day (3-5 P.M) would be perfect since the chances of you having to wait for your food to be prepared for a considerable amount of time are slim, and you can actually appreciate the interior beauties of the traditional eating house.
This banquet hall has been designed in the form of an L shape with two sides. On one side, guests can sit on the carpet, and on the other one, they can the space of a separated bank on the terrace furnished with Persian rugs and cushions to lay back into. However, we have to warn those who get leg camps quickly since you need to fold your legs while eating in the most traditional Persian style. After crashing down on your spot and catching a few quick short breaths, you will start to see the visual astonishments of the Sofreh Khaneh. The combination of post-modern and traditional Iranian architecture reflects gracefully on the hundred-colored stained glasses that bend the light to an unending spectrum of hypnotizing rays.
In terms of pricing, as you might’ve guessed by now, this traditional banquet takes rank amongst the more expensive ones in our list, and you would definitely feel the sting of ordering a delicious Kebab. The quality of the most exquisite and elegant Persian dishes served at this hub, truth to be told, redeems the slightly overpriced tags on the menu. Tourists from all around the world go crazy over the juicy Persian Kebab, Khorosht-e Bademjan (Eggplant dip or stew alongside a plate of rice), and the memory-sticking and incredibly rich Biryani meat which is the main traditional Isfahani dish.
Keep in mind that while enjoying the atmosphere, not to get too caught up in it, though. Be mindful of extra charges added to your bill for the served bread or rice that initially weren’t mentioned on the menu. They don’t come as a side dish to the main course and tend to catch visitors off guard and become somewhat a source of inconvenience to them.
Also check out: What to do in 5 days in Isfahan
Toranj Food Complex
Traditional Persian houses have so much for us to continue to brag about for ages but transforming one of them in the heart of the most historically-valuable city in Iran into a food complex with restaurants and cafés as it chambers and sittings throughout the courtyard with fantastic food and menu truly deserves a lot of love and praise.
This memorial of Qajar era occupies a well-situated land in the Khaghani street at the heart of the historical texture of Isfahan and conveniently close to several very famous tourist attractions like the famous Catholic Church, Isfahan Music Museum, Vank Cathedral or the Church of the Saintly Sisters, the much extolled Jolfa District, and just a 15-minute walk away from the banks of Zayandeh Rud to wash away the sleepiness of feasting on to-die-for Persian cousins at one of the best restaurants in Isfahan.
The structure has been divided into two eastern and western wings, the latter a couple of years older in the teeth, which dates it back to possibly to nearly 200 years ago. The Toranj House is an excellent example of how professional and right methods of remodeling and renovating can restore a national treasure to its former glory.
As soon as you enter the restaurant, you’re welcomed by the manager, and he’ll guide you to the best sits possible that fit your taste. Around the courtyard, two of the installment’s rooms have been renovated and transformed into two different restaurants. Staff is genuinely lovely, responsive, and polite, and the quality of food would, for sure, surpass your expectations.
Also check out: 5 must see Isfahan landmarks
We strongly suggest that you take one of the sits under the tall doors on the platforms with the stained glasses in squared shapes hovering over the courtyard to have an outstanding view on the flowers surrounding the central Hozche (small pool in the center all traditional Persian houses’ courtyards). As you relish the beauty of the yard and enjoy the enigmatic aura, the bewitching deformation of the sunlight through the stained glasses beside you will make the taste of the already well-cooked and delicious food even more ravishing. On a pre-dated schedule, live Persian music swings in an even more lively feeling to the whole structure and people in it. So, make sure to call the restaurant beforehand if you want to enjoy your traditional Persian meal while listening to classical Persian music.
For the café shop, the owners of the house shocked everyone by dedicating the settlement’s own King quarter to space for couples and lovers to drink on hot black café or a smoothing Chai (Persian tea) under the very fantastic dome of the building.
This massive room screams of the intelligence of its designers and architects. With its painted dome stationed on multiple pillars while symmetrical arches hold its weight, no short-stay with a hot or cold beverage can’t feel the same afterward. If you want a relaxed and heartwarming get-away from a busy day of wandering throughout the exalted city of Isfahan, Toranj Food Complex’s café on the upper floor is absolutely worth the try.
Also check out: Things to do in Isfahan
Moving away from all the belly festivities, Toranj House has more surprises in its distinctive chambers. If you’re only in the mood for a cold Sharbat (sweetened water usually with a fruit flavor) or warm herbal tea and stumble upon this house, then ask for the “Sharbat Khaneh” and quench your thirst. You would be amazed by the number of options the owner will give you and by the different exotic tastes that we are sure you have never tried before.
And, if you’re interested in traditional Persian clothing, pay a visit to the “Akas Khaneh” where not only you can see them up-close, but you can actually put them on and pose for the camera; now you can actually see yourself looking like a very well-respected Iranian “Khan” or “Banoo.” You have to pay to put on the custom and for the picture taken of you, but a brief tour inside the chamber and taking photos of the colorful room by yourself won’t cost a penny. So, don’t miss out on this great opportunity.
Now, aren’t these just the everyday options you would want to see in one of the best restaurants in Isfahan or not?
Also check out: Isfahan 3 days itinerary
Jarchi Bashi Restaurant
Putting aside the food quality or the historical significance of this restaurant, the fact that Jarchi Bashi is a Restbath – a restaurant bath (a former bath transformed into a very delightful underground restaurant) – was enough for us to include it in our list of the best restaurants in Isfahan. Restaurants in traditional baths are not of scarcity in Iran, and you pretty much find them in every touristy city in Iran, like Kashan or Yazd. Like its desert-surrounded brethren and their respected resbaths, Isfahan also has Jarchi Bashi to show off so it won’t fall behind in the race of fascinating spots which inspires awe out of every beholder.
The warm and kind-hearted welcome of the doorman as guests walk down to the door ensures that this is going to be a wonderful experience. After stepping in, guests are graced with an unworldly picture. The miracles of Persian architecture, at each corner or on each wall like the side by side wide arches pulling the weight of stucco domes which are masterfully decorated with drawings in an old-style to the turquoise tiles encrusting the floor of the low-depth baths illuminates the feelings even more. Nothing in Jarchi Bashi is less than authentic, pleasurable, and elegant; even the standard clothing of the staff or the cups your tea would be poured in.
This sumptuous renovation of a 400-year-old bathhouse is a highly romantic venue for dinner, especially on Wednesday and Saturday nights (or on Thursday and Friday at noon) when live music adds to the atmosphere. The vaulted interior has been beautifully restored with fountains and splendid murals. The food is not the best but it’s worth having something just to enjoy the ambiance.
Also, in the high tourism season, this beautiful resbath is packed with tourists and locals, and since sittings are closed to each other, your privacy will be in grave danger.
Azam Biryani Restaurant
Leaving Isfahan without having at least one meal of Biryani in its most original essence, is as atrocious as a crime of calling a Persian person an Arab or calling the Netherlands, just Holland!
Azam Biryani is a small local Biryani joint designed for busy bypassers and white-collars to grab themselves a quick launch or take-out to get back to their bustling lives, and it was never meant for the sort of enthusiastic tourists. So, what we are trying to say it that don’t expect to give you the same vibe as Jarchi Bashi or other fancy spots in the city. Despite it being a very casual dinner, nothing about the Biryani cooked and spiced delicately in the ovens of this joint is regular. If you really want to know why Isfahanian people don’t shut up about their Biryani, then you have to give this local vendor a chance.
In the spirit of respecting the rich culture of Isfahan, head out to Azam Biryani and get yourself a fatty and yet tasty order of traditional Biryani and dig in with all your heart. Do so, and you will Isfahan light-hearted and your soul in peace.