Best Middle-Eastern restaurant

Café Natasha's

Restaurant years are like dog years — after two, you are a success; after five, you are an institution. A 30-year run is rare indeed, but that's how long Café Natasha's has been bringing St. Louis its transcendent take on Persian cuisine. What began as a simple downtown lunch counter in the 1980s is now a well-established eatery off of South Grand Boulevard, recently renovated to reflect the Bahrami family's commitment to providing their long-time (and hopefully soon-to-be) loyalists with Middle Eastern majesty for many years to come. One could wax poetically for hours about the virtue of Café Natasha's beef shish kabob alone — is it marinated in the nectar of the gods? If diners are so fortunate as to get a little of this mouthwatering juice in a pocket of earthy char, they should be prepared to lose consciousness. For appetizers, the homemade yogurt dip (tip: order it with the shirazi to sprinkle on top) is a tangy, garlicky spread that makes even the most-strained Greek yogurt look watery. Persian cuisine is synonymous with great stews, and diners looking to try the traditional gormeh sabzie will be thrilled with the tender, mild lamb stewed with parsley and cilantro. This is not just the best Middle Eastern food in the city — it's some of the most flavorful across the board. Please keep it going for another 30, Natasha.

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