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Southside Persian surprise

Sultani Kabob plate. Credit: Jennifer Zyman

Sultani Kabob plate. Credit: Jennifer Zyman

For those of you who are always complaining about the dearth of good Persian food in Mechanicsville, your prayers have been answered.

Kabobee must be the most unlikely restaurant in Atlanta. This colorful fast-food Iranian spot stands on an industrial (verging on post industrial) stretch of Whitehall Street — between the I-20 overpass and the back end of the Spelman College campus. Empty lots, warehouses and concertina wire mark the spot. The historic residential neighborhood of Mechanicsville lies on the other side of  the highway.

Inside, Kabobee is bright, clean and welcoming. A chef stands in the corner by a tandoor oven rolling out rounds of taftoon flatbread to cook on the oven’s clay-lined surface. The overhead menu offers a small variety of kabobs — either served with white and saffron rice and a roasted tomato, or wrapped with vegetable garnish in a flatbread.

In the midst of this dining desert, Kabobee seems like nothing short of a mirage. How on earth….?

Making taftoon bread. Credit: Jennifer Zyman

Making taftoon bread. Credit: Jennifer Zyman

The building’s owner,  Reza Ashtiani, also runs Atlanta Marble — the firm next door that produces, fabricates and installs stone for such high-end properties as the Mansion on Peachtree and the Cloister at Sea Island.

For years Ashtiani leased the property to Nicky’s Sea Food — a fried-fish joint that went out of business.

“The place was in shambles,” Ashtiani says, adding, “It has been my idea for years to do a fast-food Persian restaurant with the same quality, but a fast turnaround. I’ve been thinking of opening a few locations and thought, why not start here.”

The restaurant has barely been open a week, so the concept is still in development. The small menu offers steak, ground beef (koobideh), chicken and salmon kabobs, along with a couple of salads and a daily Persian stew special.

I thought the food needed some fine tuning (particularly the drenched Shirazi chopped vegetable salad and the well seasoned but dry koobideh), but I did go on the restaurant’s second day of operation. I share news of it because I’m excited that it’s there and can’t wait to see how it comes along.

If you go, check out this hilarious mural in the back room, left over from Nicky’s:

Credit: John Kessler

Kabobee, 609 Whitehall Street, SW, 404-688-8885.

Hours: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

4 comments Add your comment

The Real Diner

July 22nd, 2009
1:52 pm

Great addition to the neighborhood.


August 2nd, 2009
4:25 pm

Persian Food is so delicious. Be sure to try Rumi’s kitchen in Sandy Springs. Fabulous full service restaurant recommended to me by my Iranian friends.


August 2nd, 2009
8:40 pm

Didn’t Nicky’s have a sign that said “You buy it, we fry it.” I always wondered how that worked, but wanted to check it out. Still, glad to hear about the new spot and looking forward to checking it out.


August 10th, 2009
10:28 am

This is Great! news. The southside has needed something besides fried foods jaunts and a Persian restaurant is a wonderful addition. Perhaps someday we will see bellydancers? I am one and dance at Nicola’s from time to time, and it’s wonderful to NOT have to travel to the northside for Persian (or Lebanese) food.

Best of news….! I’m heading over there with a neighbor this week.

Jane (Lady Nyo)