50 Best Restaurants 2017: No. 5 Afghan Bistro

An Afghan restaurant in Springfield

Photo by Rey Lopez

The room is unassuming. Tables are close together, and on the wall are huge paintings of ancient racing horses and women in flowing, colorful dress moving to music. But the food is masterful. It is not fancy in the way this country expects food to be formed or cooked or plated. It does not rely on trends. It relies on history, on the deep food culture of Afghanistan. There’s roasted squash, soft and drizzled with a little yogurt and dried mint, and it is in no way ready for Instagram. It is not unicorn-colored or charred to ash. It is what it’s supposed to be, and that makes it memorable. Even bread sauteed in a pan with lentils, the dish quroti, is deeply satisfying, topped with a garlicky yogurt sauce and minced beef. It is meaty and homey and stunning. Dumplings are thin sheets filled with pumpkin or beef that happily slide down the throat. A dish of roasted eggplant slowly cooked down with tomato is savory and spicy and, honestly, a little otherworldly because somehow this kitchen in Springfield finesses the kind of flavor to make the garden’s humble offspring into such a striking dish.

Afghan Bistro
Afghan | $$
8081-D Alban Road, Springfield

(50 Best Restaurants 2017November 2017)