Dining out is quite enjoyable in Afghanistan, especially in the capital. The surge of expats and visitors since the fall of the Taliban caused a large boom in Kabul’s restaurant scene. The street food scene shouldn’t be missed if you want a taste of unique local food. Restaurants open and close as they please; and many establishments thrive one season and are gone the next, so it is advisable to check whether your choice of restaurant or café is still in operation before going out of your way to look for it. UN-approved restaurants are more expensive, but safer.
Bars and Pubbing in Afghanistan
Unfortunately for night owls and party-seekers, nightlife is pretty much non-existent in Afghanistan, unless you are an expat, a member of an elite military unit or an NGO. Because it is an Islamic country, alcohol is illegal.
Dining and Cuisine in Afghanistan
Afghan food is a delightful mix of flavors from regions surrounding the country, and dominated by the cuisine of the major ethnic groups, the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Pashtuns. Indian influence is also obvious in the use of spices like coriander, saffron, black pepper, and cardamom. Afghan bread or naan is a staple, along with other types of local breads like lavash and obi non. Naan is made from flour and whole wheat, baked into a thin, elongated, oval shape and topped with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nigella seeds or a combination of any of these.
Rice dishes are the centerpiece of all meals. Qabli Pulao is a favorite, consisting of chopped carrots and raisins steamed together with white rice. It is often served with beans, vegetables, or meat, particularly lamb. Kebabs (meat skewers) are also very popular in Afghanistan. Lamb kebabs are often served with naan. Other popular specialties including mantu (steamed dumplings), shorma (soup), and qorma (fried onion with various meats, spices, fruits, or vegetables).
The good restaurants in Afghanistan are all concentrated in Kabul. There is a handful of fast food joints including Everest Pizza (13 Str. Wazir Akbar Khan) and Shar-e-now Burgers (near Shar-e-now park) for those looking for quick bites. Indian and Asian dishes are best enjoyed at Annar Restaurant & Bar (St 14, Lane 3 Crossing, Wazir Akbar Khan), while French cuisine is at its best at Le Divan Restaurant (Str.4, Qala-e-fatullah). Afghan and Italian fusion is served at Kulba Afghan (3rd floor Shar-e-now, Esmat Moslim Str.). Sufi (Bagh-e Bala Karte Parwan, near Aryub Cinema) is the talk of the town, but is quite far from downtown. It is known for its traditional Afghan-style eating, complete with low tables, cushion seating, and finely-detailed carpets and draperies.