Perhaps the best way to gauge a Middle Eastern restaurant is by its hummus.
Ordering hummus at a traditional Persian restaurant is nothing like purchasing the $2 container of salty hummus in the grocery store's refrigerated aisle, as I experienced at Persian Garden at 15th Avenue and Thomas
. And yes, I ordered an appetizer as a meal. Happily.
Persian Garden's version (at $10, it took up my entire lunch budget) is similar to what you get at most Middle Eastern joints in the Valley. They swap salt for true chick pea flavor, garnished by veggies that make the dish really pop. Small cucumber slices offer cool relief and diced tomatoes as some zest and sweetness when combined with the nutty-tasting dip.
The small, adorable restaurant serves hummus (and most other dishes) with homemade wheat naan. But they only serve one small piece of the delicious, warm bread with an order. You can request more, but it's worth mentioning that the service, while quite helpful and kind, is super slow -- even on dead afternoons. Getting more naan to your table is a daunting task. After ten minutes of waiting for more naan, I decided that I was kind of full and would rather take the check and leave.
I was hoping for a hummus that would blow me away, but instead I got one that's hyper-traditional. I've had this same dish dozens of times at a handful of Valley restaurants. But it was tasty. I'll give them that.
1335 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ