Afghan restaurants in Toronto tend to be all about the kabobs, but of course, there are many other rich offerings at these places to try, like Qabuli rice, spicy chaplee patties and fried or grilled seafood and meats, usually accompanied by salad and thicker, less chewy naan than the Indian variety.
Heres a list of some best Afghan restaurants in Toronto
Naan & Kebob
Naan & Kabob is a popular halal Afghan chain with several locations throughout Toronto, including a counter in Scarborough town center.
The vibe is way less like a greasy Alibaba’s and more like an elegant cafeteria, offering a mainstream, accessible version of Afghan cuisine, not too hot, not too bland, and using fresh ingredients.
The Markham Road location is outfitted in a slick colour scheme of orange, black and dark brown with patterning and intricate lamps throughout.
The space was designed by Jenny Lu, the same person behind the look of another chain, Thai Express.
A classic chicken breast kabob ($10.99 with rice) is made using boneless, skinless marinated meat. It’s accompanied by your choice of salad, and we go with fatoush for a small upcharge, with seasoned pita, cucumber and cabbage.
A paneer kabob ($9.49) is marinated in a special house blend, kind of a veggie version of tandoor kabobs with thick slices of salty cheese and zucchini.
You can also get your chicken kabob tandoori style ($11.99) with rice, and I think I’d recommend this style over the plain chicken breast, though of course your tastes may skew one way or the other.
I find this style is excellently complemented by the thick garlic sauce that accompanies most kabobs, as well as the flavourful and generous portion of rice.
As for the titular naan ($1.29 for a basket), don’t expect anything like you get at Indian and Pakastani restaurants around town. This Afghani style naan is expectedly bready, stiff, and fairly bland, though it still makes a good typical bread basket for a fair price.
All kabobs are grilled on expensive, high end EmberGlo stone grills that use a different kind of charcoal to produce the exact right amount of heat without a lot of smoke.
The one at Naan & Kabob is customized with double tempered glass.
Traditional house-made drink options include mint yogurt doogh ($2.29).
There are also refreshingly slurpable mango smoothies ($3.49).
Nothing against the naan but the kabobs are definitely the half of the name of this place you should focus on. That, and the convenient service and lower prices.
Baghlan Kabob and Bakery
Baghlan Kabob & Bakery is an Afghan eatery located in a Rexdale strip mall. Set up like a fast food restaurant, you have to walk through an aisle of tables to place your order at the back counter where the menu is displayed on video screens.
The interior isn’t especially stylish; red table cloths add pops of colour but are counterintuitively protected by Plexiglas. There are two deep, partitioned booths with seating for at least eight at banquettes that wrap around long tables. Those large format meals ($39.99-$79.99) featuring kabob multi-packs complete with rice and naan are apparently available for dine-in as well as take-away.
Kabobs are the main event on the menu – a single order, like the Jouja Kabob dinner ($8.49), is comparable to the souvlaki dinners found at most Greek diners. Long-grained rice accounts for half the plate, while the other half is packed with pale shredded lettuce, Afghan salata and chutney. The skewered chicken breast is thoroughly marinated and grilled so that each morsel is plump, juicy and slightly charred at the edges.
Also from the grill, beef or chicken chaplee ($4.99) finds itself between burger buns. The Americanized presentation, at first, seems a shame, considering this place bakes an excellent variety of traditional breads in-house – everything from barbari and roghani to Uzbek-style naans.
I guess it couldn’t be helped, considering the round patty shape it seems like a pretty natural fit – the kind of thing I’m surprised I haven’t seen previously, not even from a food truck. It leaves a good first impression – the beef chaplee is robustly spiced and dressed simply with just lettuce, tomato and spicy house mayo.
There are half a dozen handheld wraps, too, all priced at $4.99 or less. The kofta ($3.99), a spiced ground beef kabob, is wrapped in warm puffy tandoori naan and packed with salad and the house garlic sauce.
Baghlan Kabob & Bakery also stocks pastries, baklava and fresh bread for convenient grab and go. The restaurant is open daily at 9 am until at least 10 pm during the week and an hour later from Friday to Sunday.
Kandahar kabab & Thoncliffe
Kandahar Kabab serves Afghani kababs and other traditional cuisines specific to the Kandahar area.
The mini-chain has several locations in Toronto – this one in what was a Beer Store for forty years.
The interior is surprisingly over-the-top for what’s primarily a casual takeout place, a wall of waterfalls with a kitschy faux fireplace set into it greeting you when you first walk in.
The trickling of the waterfalls and the blare of orders being called out for pickup over the loudspeakers provide the main ambience, no real music to speak of.
Kandahar Kabab ($15.50) is somewhat obviously the signature dish here, a double kabab dish of veal filet mignon that’s been marinated for nearly 48 hours and grilled on extremely high heat with wedges of onion.
All double kebab dishes are served with a second chicken kofta kabab, rice, salad and Afghani naan.
A chicken breast double kabab combo ($13) is more middle-of-the-road price-wise, its vibrant yellow colour thanks to saffron, like everything also marinated for around two days.
It’s served with all the same accompaniments as the veal. These dishes aren’t cooked with oil so they’re technically lower in calories.
KK Fish ($13 for a small order up to $19 for a large) sees marinated white fish either grilled or fried according to your preference, finished with spices and herbs and served with a lemon wedge.
Kandahar Fries ($3.50 for a small order, $6 for a large—go for large!) tops relatively ho-hum fries with their famous house sauces, a wonderfully spicy hot sauce and a cooling white sauce. They complement pretty much every dish excellently, especially kababs.
A sundae ($3) is done up in typical Afghani style with a base of vermicelli soaked in syrup topped with soft serve and a choice of two frozen fruits (mango, raspberries, blueberries).
Mango juice ($3) and lassi ($4), like the sundae, are incredibly thick, creamy and refreshing to offset the spicy grilled food.
Everything here is made with spices traditional to Kandahar cooking, and recipes such as those for the sauces are closely guarded. This is a particularly great location to visit if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about Kandahar Kabab and some of the best kebab in the city.