Tourist & Resident Guide to Iran

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Azari Traditional Teahouse Tehran

The Azari Traditional Teahouse One of the best places in Tehran for a “traditional” Iranian dining experience.

Sweet, hospitable smells of flavoured tobacco waft through its beautifully-restored patterned brick façade. The atmosphere is everything at this superbly executed establishment and a warm greeting from the staff tells you that considerate service has also been brought into the mix – an important factor in a place so ideal for foreign visitors.

Pass the local men filling the brightly-lit café-style antechamber with scented smoke and then through to the courtyard. The high, peaked canvas roof, propped up by its sturdy pole rather gives the impression of a luxurious tent. The central pool and creeping plants further add to the outdoor feel.

Guests either doff shoes and sit on a carpeted dais or huddle around tables. Little fluted glasses of tea are set on saucers with a satisfying clunk almost as soon as you are seated. Closely following are plates of succulent dates and soft, freshly-baked cookies. The food, though limited to a choice of fried freshwater fish, chicken kabāb or ābgusht, is of a high standard. The waiters, in traditional dress, are very polite and will serve and set to work mashing your abgusht with a flourish.

Though there was a time that even traditional forms of music were considered “haram” (i.e. against God’s will) and banned in the Islamic Republic of Iran, now things are considerably more relaxed. One night’s entertainment at the Azari consists of 3 different musical acts.

On the night we visited we were greeted by the well-intentioned chanting of a folk singer accompanying himself with a hand drum. His style of singing is still employed in the training centres of the Pahlavan, Iran’s traditional wresters and body-builders.

He was followed by an ensemble of kamancheh, santour, daf and vocalist performing traditional songs quite professionally, if not very enthusiastically. The final duo, however, made up for any deficit. The poker-faced deadpan of the santour player could not prepare us for the lightning speed and bravado of his playing and the singer/daf-player gave it all he had.

It would be hard to find a better combination of traditional setting, cuisine and music than at the Azari, anywhere in Tehran.

Location: Southern end of Vali-e Asr Avenue near the central Railway Station.
Tel: 021 55373665

Iranian Music CDs

Books on Iran

Guide to Tehran


Beaman said...

Fascinating blog. The pictures from the carpet museum are very beautiful. As are those from the Museum of Contemporary Art.

tadatanome said...

thankyou beaman.

a quote from a carpet seller in Ryszard Kapuściński's "Shah of Shahs"

"To us, a carpet is a vital necessity. You spread a carpet on a wretched, parched desert, lie down on it, and feel like you are lying in a green meadow."