because they're always being told by
their security directors that Kabul is so dangerous.
is dangerous. Khandahar is what Baghdad used to be and may be
again. Lashkar Gah
is its own ring of hell. Kabul? Kabul is a dirty, crowded, barely-functioning,
kick-ass, vibrant city. These security directors don't want the
home office in Indianapolis to know what Kabul is really like
because then they won't get paid $1,000 a day. So people get
shuttled between the office and the guesthouse every day like
they're in some work-release program. Can you die a violent
death in Kabul? Sure, and the most likely cause will be getting
plowed over by a Blackwater convoy. Next Thursday night, have
your Mommy drop you off at a friend's house, borrow your Program
Assistant's cousin's nephew's Corolla and check out Kabul!
The restaurant reviews below are based on the classic evaluation
criteria of the 3 Q's: Quality, Quantity and Quost. There are
some very good restaurants that only get a moderate
ranking because they're just so expensive. I make about
as much in a month as a lot of people here make by
Tuesday. If my favorite shooter is taking me out for
dinner I'll enjoy just about anywhere. But if I'm
scrounging in the bottom of my purse for those last
crumpled dollars, the place can't just be good, it has
to be a good value.
Location: Shar-e Now, Butcher Street, first left,
5th house on the right
Vitals: Croatian/Bosnian, seafood;
firstname.lastname@example.org; Saska: 0700-220884; UN
approved, closed Friday
Details: I've been enjoying
her food since she was on Taimani street how many years
ago. Excellent fish and seafood and great Balkan dishes
you can’t pronounce. Nice cozy basement. When Saska's in the kitchen,
this is some of the best food in town.
Taverna Du Liban
Location: Wazir Akbar
Khan, 13th St, left on Lane 4
Vitals: Lebanese food; 0799-Tavern (828376)
Details: The first Lebanese restaurant in town and still
lovely. Wonderful couch area outside for
relaxing, munching and sheesha-ing. Night after night
consistently one of the best places in town.
Location: Main Wazir Akbar Khan Road, coming from
the British Embassy toward Massoud Circle, right on
Street 10, just before the Kam Air banner. Pass through
2 barricades, restaurant on the left. Look for the name
on the tile wall.
Vitals: International/Italian food, pizza; 0799-200600;
Details: I've had some really, really good meals
here lately. The other night the caprese salad was made
with real, actual, fresh mozzarella. Fantastic. The
pasta has been great and the steaks, though pricey,
still popular. And the waitstaff is still - ahem - as
charming as ever.
Touch of Home Bakery
Location: Qalla-e Fatullah, Street 3 Turn right
on Street 3, pass the neon camels on the left, park at
the first little alley on the left and walk in, second
gate on the right, green gate
Vitals: Bakery and catering; No store so order
ahead for pickup 0797-324882
Details: Cookies, cakes, pies, quiches, breads,
tortillas, tortilla chips, cinnamon rolls and too much
more. Full catering menu of international and Afghan
dishes. So very, very good.
Location: From Charyi Ansari go up Kolola Pushto
road, just past the Dutch Embassy on the right, turn
left on Street 5. On your left will be Park Palace
Hotel. Look straight ahead to the end of the street,
you'll see the top of an A-frame roof. That's it.
Vitals: Coffee and cafe food; 0799-204030,
Details: Lovely garden and cafe with free wifi. Good
coffee drinks and the food is improving. Good fries now
and nice pizza. Great place to park
it for an afternoon out of the office.
Location: Microyan. Go down the main road from
Massoud Circle toward Jalalabad Road Circle. After you
pass Massoud Circle, start looking on the right for the
sign, the restaurant is set back from the street. If you
hit the right turn to go to ISAF/Shash Darak you just
Vitals: Turkish food; 0799-407818;
Details: So yummy, good prices. My favorites are
the Iron Pan dinner and of course the baklava. And the
Golden Key Seafood
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. Coming down the main
road from the British Embassy take a left on 13 St, then
a left on the 4th lane, you'll see the big sign on the
Vitals: Chinese food/seafood; 0799-002800;
Details: Best Chinese food in town. I love the
prawn toast. And the mutton hotpot. And the dumplings.
Location: Wherever you are
0796555000; 0796555001; 11am-9pm.
Details: Are you locked down or just plain
lazy? Want to try some of these restaurants but just
can't make it out of the guesthouse? There is a service
in town that will deliver from some of the popular
places. Go to the
EasyFood website, make your selection from the
menus available and then give them a call.
Le Pelican Cafe du Kabul
Location: Darulaman Road, Just before you get to
the Russian Embassy on your left, look on the right for
a bright orange guard shack
Vitals: French bakery and cafe; closed Sunday -
In proper French fashion, closed until
Details: Fantastic cafe food including soups and
grilled sandwiches. Bakery includes breads and pastries,
but make sure to leave the meringues for me.
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. Main Wazir Akbar Khan
Road, coming from the British Embassy toward Massoud
Circle, turn right on Street 14. At the end of the
Street turn left and park across from Shandiz. Walk
along the wall toward the Ariana Airlines sign, enter
the gate under the Bella Italia sign.
Vitals: Italian; 0799-600666; Lunch and
Dinner Sunday through Friday
Details Yummy Yummy pasta, fresh crispy salads and
good soups. Pizza worth trying. Steaks a little
over-priced but the new dessert prices are a good value.
Location: Shar- Now. Pass the Women's Ministry on
your right, go down a couple blocks, look for Herat on
the right hand corner across from the park. 2 blocks
before Charyi Haji Yacub.
Vitals: Afghan food;
Details: The best lamb chops in the world. Make
sure to have a woman in your group so you can sit in the
Fishtank Family Room.
Cabul Coffeehouse and Cafe
Location: Taimani Street 6 turn right or Qalla-e
Fatullah Street 6 turn left
Vitals: Coffee shop/restaurant; 075-2005275;
Details: They're so cool they were in the New
York Times. Real-world coffeehouse drinks, burgers,
breakfasts. It's not on the menu
anymore, but if you're really nice they might make you
my favorite grilled cheese/tomato/onion sandwich.
The Lounge Cafe
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan, Street 15, Lane 2, turn
left, across from Mai Thai; closed Friday
Vitals: International food, western beverages
Details: Really nice, cozy, homey place with a
small but well-done menu including soups, starters,
pizza, curry and beef bourguignon.
Location: Shar-e Now. Toilet Street between Charyi
Haji Yacub and Charyi Ansari, on the right in the first
Vitals: Korean food; 0799-199509
Details: The new location for an old favorite has
all the ambiance of a Kabul wedding hall. But the food
is still really good.
Location: Charyi Ansari between streets 1 and 2 on
Vitals: Afgan and Italian food; breakfast, lunch and
dinner everyday; 0752-008444, 0799-224097;
Details: Nice view from the 5th floor balcony and
dining room. Breakfast and lunch buffets a great value.
Fondues for dinner and delivery.
Akbar Khan. Main traffic circle by the British
Vitals: Lebanese food; 0799-818283
Details: Great food, great fresh juices, especially
the lemon/mint juice. Best Sheesha in town. Comfy
garden. Kick back on one of the couches.
Location: Karte Char. Take Darulaman road out of the
Deh Mazang traffic circle toward the rubble palace, make
the first right there will be a gas station, down 1
block on the right
Vitals: Bakery/groceries; 0799-316337
Details: I'll never forget when they opened, the
first doughnuts in town. They were heavy and greasy but
they were still doughnuts. Now it's the best place for a
to-go lunch when you're in the car riding around town
all day and need something quick. Focacia pizza, fresh
yoghurt (bring your own spoon) and spicy meat pastries.
Location: Shar-e Now. Behind Ministry of Interior,
on the street parallel to Chicken Street. Coming down
from the Kabul City Center with the Park on your left,
make a right on the street at the end of the park,
across from the gas station, then make the next left. If
you survive the ride down this street for a long block
you'll see the sign for Le Bistro hanging at the corner
where you'll make the right turn, then the restaurant is
on your right.
Vitals: French food; 0799-598852
Details: Open again with the same lovely
croissants, quiches and other yummies.
T-Bones Butcher Shop/What-a-Burger Cafe
Wazir Akbar Khan. Main Wazir Akbar Khan Road, coming from
the British Embassy toward Massoud Circle, just
past Street 10, just past the Kam Air banner, on the
right. There will be a blue T-Bones sign and Fat Man
Forest above the door.
Vitals: Butcher shop/burger joint; 0700-298301;
- Cafe closed for Ramadan but butcher shop open
A real butcher shop where they can custom cut to
your liking. And upstairs burgers and chilli and steaks
cooked to order.
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan
Vitals: Take-away/Delivery only; 0799-001520;
free delivery within 3 km of Wazir, $5 further
Details: For the time being, Springfields has closed
the restaurant and is doing their full menu
delivery/take away only. Steaks, pasta, pizza, salads.
Arrives nice and hot in good condition.
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan; Street 15 between lanes
2 and 3 on the right.
Vitals: Indian food; 0772-011120;
www.namaste.com.af; Open everyday 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm
Details: Best Indian food in the country. Rogan
Josh to savor. New cook has cranked up the heat factor
past my modest capacity but enjoy if you can.
Location: Shar-e Now. Pass the Women's Ministry on
your right, go another block and look for the sign and
the guardhouse on the left just before UK Sports. Walk
down the passageway, the entrance is off the courtyard.
Vitals: Indian food; 0799-324899
Details: This was one of the first restaurants in
town years ago and it wasn't very good, but still we
went there. The food has improved quite a bit since then
and the garden is a nice place to spend time when the
weather obliges. Don't miss the lassi.
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan, Street 15, Lane 2, turn
Vitals: Thai food; 0796-423040
Details: neé Lai Thai,
Mai Thai is serving some of the same Thai dishes plus
allegedly pizza. The big plus is the service is much
friendlier and there is a nice selection of
international beverages. The pad thai is still very,
very orange though.
Location: Taimani Street 4 turn right or Qalla-e
Fatullah Street 4 turn left. Down the middle of the
block look for the guards and SUV's.
Vitals: French food/bar; closed Sundays;
0799-300264. No admittance after 10pm.
Details: Food is hit or miss, but always a great
place to spend the evening. Service sucks.
Flower Street Cafe
Location: Taimani Street 2 turn right or Qalla-e
Fatullah Street 2 turn left. Look for the Teal-striped
Vitals: Sandwiches; 0700-293124;
Details: I was never a huge fan, but persistent
coaxing by friends got me there a couple times for
breakfast. Yep, real bacon. And my favorite Texan taught
them to make real sweet tea.
Location: Shar-e Now. Butcher St. 2nd left, down on
the right with a big sign
Vitals: Afghan food; 0774-212256, 0700-210651;
Details: A nice place with good Afghan food. And
Wednesday night live Afghan music, to be enjoyed or
avoided at your discretion.
Red Hot & Sizzlin'
Location: Microyan; Best bet the first time is to go
with someone who's been there. But if you must, come
from Wazir on the main road through Massoud circle,
straight through the Jalalabad road circle and come
across the river. Take the first right and go down until
the end of the Russian apartment buildings on your left.
Make a left at the shopping center with the pizza
place on the corner. Make a left at the next traffic
circle. Slow down. The first gate on the right might have
a red chili pepper hanging up on a pole. That's it. Good
Vitals: Steak, 0799-redhot (733468)
Details: You like steak? You like shooters? This
is your place.
Location: Serena Hotel
Vitals: Asian food; 0799-654000
Details: A random selection of various Asian
dishes that get pricey but the atmosphere and service
are excellent and the noodle dishes are a good value.
Location: Serena Hotel
Vitals: Buffet and ala carte international;
Details: The dinners and lunches are way
overpriced but Friday Brunch is often the only reason to
get out of bed after Thursday night. At $35 you may want
to try to get someone else to treat, but if not, treat
yourself once in a while. A forget-you're-in-Kabul
experience. Just stay away from the sushi.
Akbar Khan; intersection of Street 14, lane 3
Vitals: Indian/Chinese/Thai food;
Details: These places that do a variety of cuisines
often don't hit any of them just right. If you're in the
neighborhood it can be convenient, but there is better
Indian, Chinese and Thai in town.
Stores in town - There are quite a few good
stores in town now, here are a few worth the visit.
- Hamidi Market
Location: Shar-e Now; coming down from Kabul City
Center, in the new building on the left at the corner at
the end of the park; look for the big Areeba sign
Location: Shar-e Now; on
street that runs across the end of the park; coming
down from Kabul City Center turn left at the end of
the park, on the right in the second block
- Chelsea Market
Now. Down the street 2 blocks from the Kabul City
Center on the right across from Kabul Bank. Before
- Kabul Spinneys
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. Across the street
from the British Embassy
- Finest Supermarket
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. Main Wazir traffic
circle on the corner of Street 15 next to the Grill
Location: Now a chain! Shar-e Naw. Corner of
Charyi Haji Yacoub street 3 on the left
- Karimi Supermarket
Location: Karte Parwan. On the old British
Embassy Street down from the main circle before the
Details: Make sure to head upstairs for great
stuff that's fallen off some PX trucks.
- Filet Butcher Shop
Location: Shar-e Naw. Coming from Shar-e Naw
park, turn right at Charyi Haji Yacoub. Pass Butcher
Street on your right, look for it another half block
down on your right. Big shiny building.
- 15th Street Butcher or some other name
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. 15th Street, 2nd
shop on the right just off main Wazir traffic circle
Details: Often a good source of seafood and
politically incorrect meat products.
Things are changing all the time in Kabul. And that goes
for restaurants especially. Right now I'd skip these
places, but as management, staff and/or clientele change
they may be worth another look.
Let me know.
Location: Shar-e Naw
Details: The owner states that the restaurant is
invitation only and not open to the public. I was
invited recently and the meal was sadly a
disappointment. If it becomes a public venue I'll give
it another try.
Location: Wazir Akbar
Khan; Pakistan Embassy Street, down before the
barricades on the left
Vitals: Iranian; 0799-342928
Details: I really love the Shashlick (lamb chops)
here and great pickled garlic and
Iranian-style rice and yogurt. But the last time I went
we sat at a table for 20 minutes and no one even
acknowledged our existence much less brought us a menu.
Maybe it was the Official No Food For Foreigners Day and
I didn't get the memo. Just got up and walked out and no
one even seemed to notice.
Location: Qalla-e Fatullah. Head up Qalla-e Fatullah
Street from Medina Market and Rumi is on the left
between streets 5 and 6. Look for the red sign near the
Vitals: Afghan food; 0799-557021
Details: This has always been the best Afghan in
town, but since Hashmat went to India it's been a train
wreck. Great new menu, but they never have anything on
it or the cook doesn't know how to make it. Twice I've
been there lately totally frustrated. I'm not going back
until they get their shit in gear.
Cappuccino Coffee House
Location: Butcher Street, on left side of corner of
Vitals: Coffee house, light food; 0752-041633;
Details: A coffee house that aspires to be a
gentlemen's club. Good place to go for foreign guys who
think they "fit in". Not a comfortable vibe for white
chicks - you know what I mean gals.
Location: Wazir restaurant now Mai Thai, branches
inside ISAF KAIA and Camp Eggers
Vitals: Thai food; 0700-297557;
email@example.com; only soft drinks
Details: The food has gotten pretty lousy and the
prices are ridiculous, especially on KAIA since it's
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan; Swing around main circle
and put The Grill on your right, head down the
barricaded street to almost the end. You'll see big
misspelled banners showing you the way.
Vitals: Pizza; 0799-352116
Details: Pizza's not awful. Not great, but not
Location: Shar-e Now;
Between DHL and the Mustafa across the street from
the secret police office.
Vitals: International food/bar;
Details: Nothing I say will change the fact that the
Gandemack has its faithful following and always will.
But still. The drink prices are off the chart, even with
today's lousy supply. And those stupid-ass bar tickets.
My favorite shooter tucked his book into his shirt
pocket and then the shirt promptly ended up in the
washer. I pulled a CSI Kabul and pieced $17 worth of
them back together. I would have had less drama trying
to use counterfeit Taliban-era afghanis to pay my bill.
And the last time we were there we waited an hour just
to get our starters. And yet, it's facetime central.
Location: Shar-e Now. Behind
Kabul City Center, catty-corner from Sitara. From Charyi
Ansari, pass Kabul City Center on your right, turn right
at the end of the block, just before you hit the park on
your left. You'll see a sign for Sitara. On the next
block look for a long white wall on your left with a
sign for Cedar House.
Vitals: Lebanese/Italian/Afghan; 0799-121412
Details: The menu is now combined with Lebanon
Palace, a few items from the former Bella Noche and some
afghan selections. None of them very good.
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. Heetal Hotel. At the
bottom of the swimming pool hill at the end of Street
Vitals: Mexican food; 0799-159697;
Details: Just not any good.
Location: Wazir Akbar Khan. Heetal Hotel. At the
bottom of the swimming pool hill at the end of Street
Vitals: International food; 0799-159697;
Details: Just not any good. Seriously.
- Diana Inn - Wazir Akbar Khan; Street #15 Lane 3 left; International; 0795-552555; 0795-553555;
- International Club - neé
Maple Leaf Inn, neé
International Club, neé
German Club; Shar-e Now; Charyi Haji Yakub
Street 3, turn left; International food;
- Afghan Fried Chicken - Charyi Haji Yacoob,
between streets 1 and 2 on the left
- Chai Khana - Serena Hotel coffee shop
- Carwan Sarai -
firstname.lastname@example.org; Shar-e Now. Across from
the Ministry of Interior.
- Kabul City Center Coffee Shop - coffee; in Kabul
City Center at Charyahi Ansari
- Everest Pizza - 0799-317979; Wazir Akbar Khan.
- Shamiyana - 020-2203131; Safi Landmark Hotel,
Shar-e Now, Charyi Ansari
- Sky Line - 020-2203131;Safi Landmark Hotel, Shar-e
Now, Charyi Ansari
- H.B.S. Khajeyi - Shar-e Now; across from the
- Khosha - Afghan/International food; 0799-888999;
top floor of Golden Star
Hotel; Charyi Haji Yacub
- Camp Eggers DFAC - Military food; end of
Pakistani Embassy street across from AIB Bank
- ISAF Dining Hall - Military food; Shash Darak
next to US Embassy
- Ciano's - Italian groceries
- RA Bakery- baked goods; 0799-386032
- Intercontinental - Baghe Bala; several Afghan restaurants
Kabul can be a pretty transitory place and when
you've been here 7 years you see a lot of restaurants
come and go. Some we're sad to see go, some just needed
to be gone. Let me
know if I've forgotten any you remember.
- B's Place
- Blue PX and Coffee Shop
- La Fontaine
- Royal Thai
- The Ministry
- Crazy 8
- Chez Ivana
- Maple Leaf Inn
- Samarqand, again
- Georgia Peach
- Coco Cobana
- Coco Loco
- Elbow Room
- Bahay Kubu
- Deutcher Hof
- Bella Noche
- Kochee Coffee
- Hong Kong
- The Spot
- Four Seasons
- Supreme PX
- Manila's Finest
- Blue Bayou
- Afghan Food Court
- Kolba International
- La Cantina
Did I miss a place? Got a question, comment or rude
opinion? Send it to
Reviews last updated 16 September 2009.