The web is my main source of information (together with the oddest books) when it comes to organizing a travel. When I went to Iran I did not know about Matin’s travestyle.com blog about Iran and I regret it so much! I would have visited the country with a much better insight on food and the hidden gems of Iran if I did. After falling in love with her blog I contacted her and she was so kind to accept showing us around the town where she lives in Iran: Teheran.
Let’s discover Teheran like real locals!
Marin, may you suggest me three activities that will turn me into true Teheran local. When do you know you really are integrated into the local way of life?
- Mountain hiking: Despite the dry weather, Tehranis are lucky to have the mountains so close-by. Hiking in one of the few trails on the weekend is a popular activity for many locals. You could choose between the trails of Darband, Darakeh or Tochal in Northern Tehran.
- Picnic in the park: We Iranians are big on picnics and we’re not satisfied with a few snacks and sandwiches. It’s either barbecue or we go all the way to bring home-cooked dishes such as Loobia polo and Shirazi salad with us on a picnic. Mellat park or Laleh park are a good pick in central Iran.
- Coffee in downtown: In the recent years coffee shops have grown like mushrooms in Tehran. Many young people are now spending their afternoons chatting over coffee in one of the many cafes located in downtown Tehran where universities are also close by. Some of my favorite cafes are: Sam cafe, Reera cafe, Lamiz cafe and Vesal cafe.
Where do you love to have breakfast?
- In Darband or Darakeh, after a short hike in the mountain and a delicious omelet in one of the many restaurants on the riverside.
- Baradaran cafe/restaurant
- Ordak-e Abi (Blue Duck) restaurant
And what about the restaurants or cafes where you like to have lunch or dinner (both traditional and non-traditional food)?
- I know burgers are nothing Iran but we love them at Rock burger near Bagh-e Fedows.
- Azari traditional tea house for the perfect Dizi on a weekend.
- Gilar restaurant for great Gilani food for when we crave the sourness of northern Iranian food.
And what about some off the beaten path spots where you can breathe culture and enjoy art?
- Iranian Art Museum Garden where you can enjoy a gallery of beautiful carpets and handicrafts situation in a tastefully designed garden.
- Contemporary Art Museum
- Masouedieh Palace
May you suggest us three local shops or designers that you strongly suggest to take a look at for a mindful and unique souvenir?
- Zeen Shop in Paladium mall where you can get anything from ceramics to carpets and jewelry.
- Jome Bazaar (Friday market): Here’s where many young artists sell their handmade products.
- Sondos women’s clothing by Afsaneh Rahimian.
Ok, since you are an expert on Iranian food: what specialties of Iranian cuisine we can’t absolutely miss when visiting Iran?
- Dizi is a must-try in Iran. It’s one of the oldest Iranian recipes and is served in stone pots. It has a unique way of eating and it’s absolutely divine!
- Fesenjun is an Iranian dish consisting meatballs, lots of crushed walnuts and pomegranate molasses. It’s extremely rich in flavor and normally cooked for special occasions.
- Tahchin is a rice cake filled with rice along with a layer of chicken breasts and is usually topped with barberries, pistachios, and almonds.
For a hands-on experience of shopping and cooking a Persian meal, I’d obviously suggest booking a space at Persian Food Tours.
For more pictures and information about the tastiest treats of Iranian cuisine follow this link to jump on Matin’s blog travestyle.com.
What do 20-30 something people like to gather during the weekends or after work?
Most people would gather with their friends in cafes or sometimes at each other’s houses. Since we don’t have bars serving alcoholic drinks in Iran, most of our nightlife occurs in cafes.
What is your favorite neighborhood?
I love taking a walk along the longest road of Iran aka Valiasr. It takes you all the way from northern Tehran to the railway station in the south. It makes for a perfect tour of Tehran where you can easily witness the change of atmosphere from wealthy Tehran to downtown.
When it comes to neighborhoods, I can’t go without mentioning Oudlajan. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tehran which has kept its old vibe. There are mosques, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples built side by side and people of all faiths have been living in peace for ages.
What is your favorite bookstore?
The Fereshteh branch of Book city in northern Tehran.
What else is there to see near Teheran?
- Lar lake near Mt. Damavand
- Alamut valley
- Ski trip to Dizin
Can you suggest us thee books from Iranian authors we should read before visiting?
- It ain’t so awful Falafel by Firuzeh Dumas
- Land of turquoise mountains: Journey across Iran by Cyrus Massoudi
- The Shah by Abbas Milani to get an insight to Iran’s recent history