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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Middle Eastern
Counter service

Mon–Sat 9:00am–8:00pm
Sun noon–5:00pm

Features Live music, outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Credit cards Visa, MC

8820 Burnet Rd.
(512) 452-4888
Pars Deli
No belly dancers, bells, and whistles—just honestly good food at a steal

By day, Pars Deli is frequented by in-the-know cubicle jockeys along the Research corridor who love its terrific gyros, shawarma, souvlaki, and falafel. They recognize the signs of street cred in the shabbiness here; where the old market shelves were ripped out is now a nook with a couple of hookahs and benches, with the words “open mic” above it, sending our imaginations running. Dressing and condiment bottles are sticky, and you serve yourself from the drink fridge and tea urns. Maybe skip the olivieh wrap, which comes off as a bland potato salad with scant olive or roasted chicken flavor. Greek salad, too, is a sad, wilty little thing; opt instead for tart and refreshing cold soups.

But the main point here is the Persian dinners. Resist your yearnings for some plusher place; besides, the lighting will be softened by sconces on the peachy walls—and maybe you’ll catch someone making mood music in that “open mic” nook. More importantly, you can bring your own booze to work with transporting flavors of dill, fenugreek, preserved lemon, sour cherry, and saffron. Lamb is tender and charred, and fesenjan, a velvety and sweet-tart sauce of walnuts and pomegranate covers moist chicken. Bring a group and share everything, and don’t miss the national dish of Iran, sabzi, an herbaceous stew of dried limes, kidney beans, and succulent steak bits. Other places may have bells (or belly dancers) and whistles, but this humble hole in the wall has some of the best Persian food around.

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