accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Sunday Column: Welcome to Jahanland

sheik3

For my Sunday Column, I made a visit to Sheik Burritos n Kabobs — a hilariously creative Persian-Southwestern fusion burrio restaurant. Yes, I just said that.

A culinary passage made to Jahanland

“This is our flag, ” says an animated Jahan Ostad, pointing to an image of a banner depicted on the incredibly bizarre and hilarious mural that covers a wall of his restaurant. “The Persian flags and the Mexican flag are the same! Both green, white and red stripes. Except the Persian stripes are horizontal, and the Mexican stripes are vertical. So ours are diagonal! And see what we have in the center?”

I look closely at the flag flying from the turret of an Arabian fortress. Underneath, turbaned oil barons patrol the flat-top mesa in Rolls Royces, a camel meanders by a saguaro cactus, and a genie with the face of Barbara Eden and the body of Pamela Anderson’s really curvaceous sister rises from a bottle in a plume of smoke. Inside the central white stripe of the flag is an image of a burrito cleanly bisected by a sword.

Of course.

“My friends always told me I was such I such a good cook that I needed to open my own restaurant, ” continues Ostad, reaching for an elaborate, curved scimitar he keeps on a shelf. He hops onto a table and strikes a pose with the scimitar so I can take a picture of this self-style sheik of fast-casual food. “So I opened this.”

So what on God’s green earth is this?

Sheik Burritos n Kabobs is the official name of the restaurant. But I like to think of it as the mythical kingdom of Jahanland. It is a place — half Persia, half the American Southwest — that has sprung fully formed from Ostad’s imagination.

Set on Piedmont Road just south of Cheshire Bridge Road, Sheik Burritos n Kabobs consists of a narrow space defined by a row of tables and an eating counter. And that mural. That mural! Artist Tony Price paints with such unabashed vulgarity that you want to stand gape-jawed until Ostad ventures forth from the kitchen.

Take a breath and you will smell quormeh sabzi, a Persian stew of greens (parsley, scallions, fenugreek leaves) cooked to a sludge in a broth perfumed with dried lime. Look over at a table and you will see someone chowing down on a foil-wrapped cylinder as big as a pneumatic bank tube.

sheik2“You want a burrito?” asks the affable Ostad. A Washington, D.C., native, he attended Arizona State University, where he developed a huge jones for Southwestern burritos but missed the Persian food his father prepared at home.

After college he found himself in Atlanta, bounced around a few jobs, and ended up tending bar at an upscale chain restaurant.

And throwing dinner parties, where he discovered he had a knack for reproducing the flavors of his dad’s cooking without consulting recipes. When the conversation invariably got around to the restaurant he should open, the concept took shape.

Couldn’t Persian food be as fun, casual and sexy as the fare at a Southwestern burrito joint?

Ostad is pointing at the menu above the counter, which looks exciting but also a bit like a complicated math proof on a blackboard. You order some mysterious something from Column A, and add garnishes and sauces, all of which pun on the names of traditional Persian dishes.

You might want good Wagyu beef, Berkshire pork or tofu. Then you can add the “Bad-Man-Jon” sauce, which contains eggplant and lentils, or the “Feast-n-June” sauce with pomegranate molasses and walnuts. And then you might toss in a “red spinach” salad with beets and feta, among other things. And you can get it wrapped in a tortilla, or a pillowy Persian flatbread. Then again, you might get it “dog style” and all this business comes in a stainless steel bowl that looks quite like a feeding dish.

Dog style? Seriously? Jahan Ostad is quite possibly the goofiest restaurateur in Atlanta.

I get tofu, Bad-Man-Jon sauce, red spinach salad and a Persian flatbread.

Ostad delivers it — an unwieldy tube of cubed things, and gooey things and leafy things, and all kinds of drippy things that immediately want to leave the flatbread. I open wide, I bite and . . . aah.

I’m in the Kingdom of Jahanland. I get it. I’ve never been to this place before, but at first bite I know it instinctively, and I like being here.

Sheik Burritos n Kabobs: 1877 Piedmont Road, 404-815-0227. www.sheikburritos.com

15 comments Add your comment

Vicki

March 15th, 2010
7:30 am

I’ve seen it, and read his great signs out by the street and wondered: and now I’ll grab some and try.
Thanks, John…

Paddy

March 15th, 2010
8:50 am

If the food is good as you say, I believe many folks will give this place a try. Beats Ruby Tuesday’s and TGIF Fridays by just being open for business.

Kar

March 15th, 2010
10:30 am

What do you expect in a city that has take-out places called “Chico and Changs” where their logo has a bandito in a bad mexican hat on a motorcycle with a coolie in a sidecar with his ponytail flapping in the breeze.

Kenbud

March 15th, 2010
12:05 pm

I’ve been. It’s quite good. Wonderfully distinct flavors.

I did think the Feast-n-June was phenomenal. However there was so much of it on my burrito that I literally could not taste anything else. It’s a very…. strong taste. Imagine a TexMex burrito that is just covered in sour cream. ……. Okay that’s a bad comparison, for some.

The one thing that bugged me about the place (and I hope it has changed) was there were no prices on the menu. So i’m ordering away and my total is a lot more than I’m accustomed to at a “typical” burrito place. So I felt a little sideswiped.

I also had the “chic dip” which I will say is hands down the best thing I had there.It was so good I was scraping the dish with my bread to get every last bite. It was so good I wanted more to take home. It was so good that I went home and kept thinking about it for hours.

GET THE CHIC DIP.

Fred

March 15th, 2010
1:56 pm

Jahan is as quirky and passionate as described. While the menu is, indeed, like something John Nash would construct, the food speaks for itself. The affable Jahan serves it personally and is happy to talk about the concept and his heroically ambitious plans for its future. In fact, he won’t ask for money until he’s sure you enjoyed it. He’ll finish the meal with a smile and a bizarre piece of Persian candy, too. Hats off to this guy. Go check this place out!

A

March 15th, 2010
6:37 pm

That man is holding a scimitar. Explain.

Will

March 16th, 2010
4:41 pm

Because the light saber was out for repairs. Hotcha!

Anyway. I’ve eaten there. Good food, and he walked me through the menu to explain my options and give his recommendations. I’ll be going back

S.C. Foodie

March 17th, 2010
7:17 pm

Oh, my goodness this place sounds like I have to try it! I have never been a big fan of Mexican food, but this sounds like a burrito I can really sink my teeth into. The flavors and taste of Persia cuisine all wrap up in lovely flat bread…the thought of it makes my mouth water. I can’t wait to dig into my doggie bowl!

ATLnative

March 19th, 2010
7:53 am

Just wanted everyone to know that “Persia” is a nice name for “Iran.”

John Kessler

March 19th, 2010
8:53 am

Iran is a nice name for Iran, too.

Reza

March 21st, 2010
10:07 am

@ATLnative

You might as well have used some insult instead of the word “Iran”. Next time, have the balls to admit what you really mean you racist.

Jessica

March 22nd, 2010
5:00 pm

The name initially thew me off when I first saw it, but now that I’ve read the review I can’t wait to try it!

I think I was more afraid of the combination; it just sounded so STRANGE to combine kabobs and southwestern burritos in one location. However, having read someone else’s comment on Chico and Changs (which I frequented in college), I realize my view of the name was irrational. I loved Chico and Chang’s and never thought twice about the combination of Mexican and Chinese food in one place; why should I have the same problem with Kabobs and Burritos in the same place? I can’t wait to try the food :)

Lenore

March 23rd, 2010
9:51 am

I love this place! Jahan is handsome and welcoming, full of fun.
The restaurant is very clean, aromatic and colorful.
The burritos are HUGE! And scrumptious! You can tell that everything is freshly made. The Feast-n-June sauce is fantastic.
Everything I tasted was delicious~ I especially like the SunDevil beets!

Greg Tidwell

March 23rd, 2010
1:35 pm

Hey, cousin Jahan! Congratulations man! Don’t forget to call the baba ganoush “Mhedi substance” once you get it on the menu.

Suzanne Siney

March 27th, 2010
11:11 pm

I only wish we had something like this in Redondo Beach. Your dad’s food is fabulous, so I know you’re a “chip off the old block”. Wishing you much sucess…..Love, Todd and Scott’s Mom