The Bottom Line
- High quality food both traditional and innovative
- Reasonable prices
- Personal service from start to finish by the chef/proprietor himself
- Fresh specials of the day
- Vegetarian dishes
- Leisurely dining may mean long waits for tables
- Seating can be uncomfortable or cramped
- Address - Kabab Cafe, 25-12 Steinway St, Astoria, NY 11103 (at 25th Ave)
- Hours - Open Tuesday-Sunday, noon to 11 p.m.; closed Mondays
- Phone - 718-728-9858
- Subway - N, W to Astoria Blvd
- Menu - Meze; beef, chicken, lamb, and kefta kababs; salads; seafood; dumplings; vegetarian.
- Prices - Appetizers $5-$12, kabab combination platters $15, specials and entrees $13 and up
Guide Review - Kabab Cafe - Restaurant Review - In Astoria's Little Egypt
You could go with any item off the trusty menu, but regulars know that the magic lies in the often impromptu daily specials.
If you're lucky, Ali will offer the slow-cooked lamb shank. Served in a zesty tomato sauce, the succulent lamb falls off the bone and into the annals of sublime eating. When asked, Ali motioned from the open kitchen for me to come and look at the ingredient responsible for the savory tanginess: the whey from his homemade yogurt mixed into the chunky tomato sauce. Genius.
Order the mixed meze as you contemplate your entree choices. It's circled with slices of apple and large enough for two or more to share. The heart of the dish is the savory fried escarole leaves: hot, crispy, and seasoned so that each bite miraculously melts in your mouth. This should be required eating.
Don't overlook the eponymous kababs, served off the skewer with grilled vegetables. The kefta (ground beef and lamb) is the best I've had in Astoria.
I had declined desert vigorously, but Ali charmed me with his (complimentary) golden semolina honey cake. I've never been to Egypt, but washed down with a cup of mint tea, Ali's genuine graciousness makes Kabab Cafe feel so much like home.