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Our fair city has a dearth of Afghani restaurants compared to, say, Indian and Pakistani. Balkh Shish Kabab House excels at grilled meats, cooked right in the gas-fired hearth by the front door, of which the ground-meat keema is the best at soaking up the smoke. But Balkh's hidden agenda lies in braised meats, such as the glorious and hefty lamb shank, mantled with shredded carrots and raisins, and sided with jus-soaked rice and a salad best squirted with the accompanying herbed yogurt. The appetizers are fab, and swerve in vegetarian directions. Check out aushack, scallion-stuffed pouches flooded with tomato sauce and yogurt. The L-shaped dining room is agreeable, but don't even think about asking for alcohol, or carrying it in, either.