When someone told me about Ariana’s Kabob and Gyros, I was very excited to have an Afghan restaurant in East Mesa, so close to my work and home. Maybe, this excitement was what kept me coming back after my first bizarre visit and two more mediocre lunch visits.
I’m glad I kept coming back, because this last visit was a winner! I walked in today and told them, “I want to try something on your menu that is Afghan and packs a punch of flavor.” I believe he took this as a challenge, and recommended the Quorma Sabze with Beef. I added on an order of Bolani, which I’d had before, but wanted to give a second try.
It took a bit longer than it should have to receive the Bolani, considering I was the only person in the cafe, but it was worth the wait. Now I’ve had Bolani before. I’ve even had it before at Ariana’s, but this was leagues better than the last one I tried here. The dough was thinner and crisped up nicely, and the filling was packed full of flavor. Lots of onion, scallion, leek, cilantro and potatoes to glue it all together. It was served with a Green Chutney, which tasted extremely fresh and acidic, and also a yogurt sauce which had some of the chutney mixed into it.
Shortly after the Bolani arrived, the Quorma made it to the table. I’m a bit suspicious that this was the Quorma Sabze we had talked about, because that dish is supposed to feature spinach and herbs, but this dish was very tasty. The beef, cauliflower and chickpeas were cooked in a loose, sweet onion based tomato sauce that had a peppery finish. The rice was cooked well and the chickpeas were tender, but the beef was a little tough for my liking. Even with that minor complaint, I would order this dish again.
I feel like Ariana’s is finally starting to hit their groove. If they can iron out the dining experience a bit more, they’ll be much better off than they are. The layout of the restaurant is confusing. There is a large menu board in the back, no one to greet you when you walk in, one solitary color menu and the rest bad blurry black and white copies. I feel like the crew at Ariana’s should embrace the flavor-filled Afghan cuisine, and guide diners enthusiastically to try it. I know I’m eager to go back and try more.