Amidst the traffic and slew of strip malls that occupy Burnet Road sits a glimmering oasis of Mediterranean fare. Sam Roostaie offers diners the essence of his native Iranian cuisine at Pars Deli, located at 8820 Burnet Rd, Suite 502.
Since the time of their opening in 2000, Pars Mediterranean Supermarket & Deli has relied solely on word of mouth advertising, boosted by accolades and stellar reviews from local press.
By understanding the value of a great review and the passion and integrity put into his cooking, Roostaie is able to welcome guests, fourteen years later, as if they were visitors at his own home. “I don’t eat fried food, and I won’t sell fried food” said Roostaie. The authentically Persian and Greek recipes that make up the vast menu at Pars are guided by appreciation for a healthy lifestyle and a great deal of taste testing. Recipes at Pars are rich with fresh herbs, fragrant dried spices and herbal infusions, but never fried, without additional additives. Roostaie told me, “I’m not a big guy, but I eat a lot!”
With that said, I followed suit and ate a lot! My experience was a bit like sitting down at my grandma’s kitchen table and chatting about life while she cooked. Roostaie, or Sam as he introduced himself, filled my table with delectable selections of a tumeric rich humus, baba ghanuj and a tzatziki yogurt dip, paired with dolma and naan.
The three traditional dips were anything but standard, but the star of the Veggie Plate was the baba ghanuj, with an aroma of freshly grilled eggplant and a hint of smokiness and topped with crunchy walnuts. However, my ongoing love affair with tzatziki proved strong. The sauce boasted an herbal intensity that truly revs up the senses and smacks your tongue with a juicy finish.
Round 1 also tempted me with the Oliveh salad, made up of spiced, shredded chicken, potatoes, eggs, olive oil, mayo and a combination of spices. With over 20 choices of side items at Pars Deli, the appetizer combinations are endless and filling. Great to share, and plenty of vegetarian options. Washing my first plates down with a naturally sweetened, gourmet Rose Tea, I was onto round 2.
The Kabob Lovers plate was juicy and fully loaded with 3 different meats, served over lime saffron rice, with chargrilled pita, lime wedges and tzatziki.
- Chicken Kabob: tender, marinated cuts of chicken breast skewered with onion and tomato, then charbroiled over an open flame.
- Ground Beef Kabob: a surprisingly juicy and flavorful serving of skewered lean ground beef and onion. Great balance of spice and tenderness and – more significantly – non-greasy.
- Lamb Gyro Meat: not a standard on the kabob plate, but a substitution to appease my curiously excited palate. Tender shavings of fresh lamb meat, seasoned with Mediterranean spices.
The Lamb shank was the highlight of my meal. I tried a hefty portion of juicy, fall off the bone lamb with rich saffron lemon sauce that delicately dressed the delightfully substantial and unexpectedly sexy meal. Take this example to heart when you give Pars Deli a try. Don’t be fooled by the humbly proclaimed deli. You will eat like a king when you dine with Sam.
Pars also features a few supermarket items such as olive oils, spices, herbal concoctions, teas and rice. Over time, the business transitioned from a grocery into a deli.
Kebabs, gyros and Turkish coffees, what more could you ask for? Here are two tips to make note of for your next visit:
- Pars is a BYOB establishment.
- You can step up to the microphone and tell a joke, and Sam will give you a free dessert.
Have you been to Pars Deli? If so, what was your favorite part of the experience?
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