Best Persian Food in Vancouver? You Make the Call!

Photo credit: Gaby Av | Flickr

Photo credit: Gaby Av | Flickr

Vancouver gets lots of praise for its abundant sushi options and authentic Chinese restaurants. But one international cuisine that’s consistently overlooked is the city’s outstanding Persian food.

Persian restaurants – serving the traditional food of Iran – are concentrated in North Vancouver (where there’s a large population of Persian descent) and also scattered throughout the downtown area. Outwardly, at least, Persian food has much in common with more familiar Lebanese and even Greek cuisine.  The mainstay of the menu is skewers of beef and chicken, marinated and grilled over open flames. Pita bread plays a central role, too, as do starters with ingredients like eggplant and grape leaves.

But I’m far from an expert on Persian food, which is why I need your help.  Do you have a favourite Persian restaurant in Vancouver. Let us know by leaving a comment below. 

I’ll start things off with one of my favourites, Cazba, which has locations on Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver and on Davie Street downtown.

I stopped by the downtown location recently, located on Davie Street at Thurlow. The first good sign: On a Saturday night, Cazba was packed with Persian families and there was a wait for a table. It’s a big restaurant, but casual and simply decorated. (There are none of the cliched trappings of some other Middle Eastern restaurants: hookahs, belly dancers, etc. ).

Photo credit: Alpha | Flickr

Photo credit: Alpha | Flickr

The menu is straightforward, too.  There are a few appetizers, including the popular kashkeh bedemjoon, a deep fried eggplant dish served with pita bread.  But the bulk of the menu is kebabs: skewers of marinated chicken, lamb, AAA beef or koobideh (spiced ground beef), paired with basmati rice and grilled tomatoes.  I should also point out that prices for the kebabs – and, well, everything – are ridiculously cheap for downtown Vancouver. A chicken kebab platter will set you back all of $11.

For a bit of a variety, I opted for the vaziri platter ($13) – one skewer of marinated chicken breast and one skewer of koobideh.  The first thing that stood out to me was the quality of the ingredients: fresh, juicy chicken breast and flavourful beef.  The other thing that struck me was the quantity: There was enough food for two meals on my plate.

Photo credit: Roozitaa | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Roozitaa | Wikimedia Commons

Alas, I had also ordered another Cazba specialty, the gheimeh stew ($9).  Hearty, heavily spiced stews – featuring eggplant, beef, peas and various beans – are another staple of Persian cuisine.  The gheimeh consisted of yellow peas, tender braised beef and tomatoes, flavoured with a preserved lemon and other seasonings.  It was an unexpected surprise and  the highlight of my meal.

Actually, the highlight may have been the bill. The total for two mains, two Greek salads and two beers (with tax) was $36.58.  I was reminded (yet again) that Vancouver’s culinary sweet spot – that point where incredible food and incredible value meet – lies in its many authentic ethnic cuisines.

Do you have a favourite Persian restaurant in Vancouver? Let us know below. 

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19 Responses to Best Persian Food in Vancouver? You Make the Call!

  1. SoulFood

    Zeitoon, also on Lonsdale in North Vancouver, is great too.

    Urban Gate in Coquitlam is a favorite of mine as well.

    Side note, in your article you referred a couple times to Joojeh being the spiced ground beef skewer. Joojeh is actually the marinated chicken skewer, and the spiced beef skewer is known as ‘Koobideh’, simple translation is ‘ground’. Eat on food lovers :)

    • Cecilia

      Zeitoon on Pendrell, just off Denman, is great. My in-laws are Persian and we order from there for our large family events.

    • Reem

      Zeitoon by far has the best persian food. They have two locations,one in north vancouver and their newer location is in downtown.

    • Thanks for the correction on koobideh! Corrected above.

  2. Borgie

    The new Cazba on Davie is my favourite!!!!!!

  3. Reza

    For inexpensive kebob, I go to The Kebob house in Port Coquitlam. 2 skewer of Kebob + rice cost under $8.

    Its a good place to go to if you have the munchies… *puff* *puff*

  4. Gus

    In downtown Vancouver, our. Favorite is Cazba… We also Zaytoon as well.

  5. Vanessa

    Anatolia’s Gate in Burnaby is amazing and a hidden gem

    • Lukasz

      That place is amazing! But I think it is actually Turkish.

    • Ahmed Etman

      Anatolia’s gate is amazing indeed, but it’s Turkish not Persian.

    • reem

      have to agree :-)

    • umansoor

      Anatolia’s Gate is Turkish cuisine, not Persian.

  6. Ramin

    Urban GATE at Coquitlam , is perfect one

  7. Ahmed Etman

    I think Cazba & Zeytoon are the best, but there’s also Yaas on 1629 Lonsdale right next to Zeytoon in North Vancouver, it’s very good as well, with more variety in rice (they have a delicious dried cranberries rice) and a great persian bread.

  8. datis

    North van:

    Cazba is best for chengeh and barg (steak), zeitoon is best for joojeh (chicken), Ava is best for koobideh (ground beef) and Persian gulf is good overall for everything, and they have fresh made bread which is a plus.

    Recently, the best Persian food I’ve been having is at papa’s shish kebob in burquitlam. Literally, the best joojeh I’ve had and I’ve eaten in many restaurants in Iran. It’s the juiciest, most flavorful chicken kebab. Their koobideh is really good too. I can’t speak on the test of their dishes… But without a doubt, the best chicken kebob I’ve had.

  9. Oscar

    Zeytoon in Central Lonsdale & Urban gate in Coquitlam are the best.

  10. maral

    You may also try Zaffron Palace in Lonsdale:
    1855 Lonsdale Ave., North Van.
    The restaurant is so small, just three tables, but the food is so gooood.
    Try it.

  11. Ed

    Zaffron has the best koobideh. Very good D-zee az well.

  12. umansoor

    Cazba in North Vancouver is my favourite! I would commute from Richmond via 2 busses and a seabus just to get it.

    When I was younger, my dad used to take me to Yaas Bazaar on Lonsdale but they have since shut down. I found out though that they have opened a restaurant called Yaas also on Lonsdale. I haven’t tried it, but I remember Yaas Bazaar being AMAZING food.