Cafe Shiraz

Written by on July 28, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(No website found at time of publishing) – Bradlee Center, Alexandria, Virginia

How I heard of this place: Seraj. Once it was mentioned. On the walk over, it was tooted as the best Persian food in Arlington. hm.

Type of cuisine: Grilled Persian delicacies, served with saffron-infused long-grain rice.

Cafe Shiraz Inside

Ambiance: Set in a strip mall just outside of the Giant grocery store, Shiraz is a calm and unassuming space. The tinted windows at the front, reflecting the light of the sun make it difficult to see the immensity of the rectangular space inside. We entered the warm yellow-orange and salmon-painted space, tiled floors and matching table seating, where music played gently in the background; a space no other patrons had yet discovered at this early dinner hour. One flat screen television, showcasing the 2012 London Olympics, rests above the wine cellar at the far end of the establishment, behind the bar and restaurant seating, just ahead of the kitchen. We request our seats at the podium, and are escorted to the front window, where a small, round table with seating for six rests underneath a Tiffany-replica lampshade coming down from the ceiling. A ceiling fan hisses above as we place our orders.

Shiraz Bar

What I ordered: Seraj immediately decided on the Super Combo ($16.99) with one skewer each of steak, chicken and kubideh kabobs. Chris and I chose to share the Kubideh Kabob ($9.99) with two skewers of ground beef with grated onion, and the Chicken Kabob ($9.99), boneless chicken breast marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, saffron and spices. Each of our dishes was served with saffron basmati rice, half of a grilled tomato, and one quarter of a grilled onion. To start, each of us was also offered a small dish of abundantly minty mastokhiar, a tiny cube of spicy garlic-parsley dip and a basket of warm barbari bread.

Cafe Shiraz Tablescape

On a return visit, Monday, March 18, 2013: We returned with some of our favorite Arlingtonians for a delicious fast-breaking dinner at Cafe Shiraz. On this hungry evening, five of us started with the Mezze Platter ($8.99 each) which included house-made hummus, falafel, dolmeh, tabouli, chickpea salad and Shirazi salad.

Mezze Platter

This, in addition to the fresh, warm Middle Eastern flatbread and homemade cucumber-mint yogurt that automatically arrived at our tables.


Of the eight of us dining at Cafe Shiraz, we had two orders for the Salmon Kabob ($13.99) – chunks of salmon marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, saffron and spices, served with a generous helping of saffron-infused Persian rice, a grilled tomato and grilled quarter onion.

Salmon Kabob

Two selected the Kubideh Kabob ($9.99) for two skewers of ground beef seasoned with onion and spices, served with Basmati rice, grilled tomatoes and onion.

Kubideh Kabob

One order of the Chicken Kabob ($9.99) – chicken breast marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, saffron and spices, served with rice, grilled tomato and onion. We had one order for a combination platter including one skewer of kubideh (ground beef) and one of the Steak Kabob – premium beef filet mignon marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and spices served with rice and grilled vegetables. The last two to join us enjoyed the Chicken Combination Plate with one skewer each of kubideh and chicken kabob served with rice, grilled tomato and onion. A few rounds of darjeeling tea, and one slice of cinnamon-topped cheesecake completed our delectable meals.

Cinnamon Cheesecake

On a return visit, Tuesday, April 2, 2013: One of our dear friends invited us to join him for lunch before we departed Arlington and, being just up the road, we suggested Cafe Shiraz. On this occasion, my husband kept to his usual: Koobideh Kabob, with our friend enjoying the Chicken Combination Plate. I decided to sample something new and chose the Salmon Kabob with Greek Salad ($13.99).

Salmon Kabob

To start, however, we all enjoyed the Hummus with fresh vegetables (for the gluten-free among us).


What I loved: The mastokhiar, I have to admit, was amazing! Cool, refreshing, and perfect on a summer afternoon, served with hot, fresh barbari.


The rice, soft and flaky, the kubideh juicy and moist, the chicken perfectly seasoned and charred on the grill just right.

Why I loved it: Delicious food. Unpretentious setting. Inexpensive, large portions.

Cost: Low to average ($9.99 – $16.99 per dish)

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