A reasonably priced Afghan restaurant near the entrance to Granville Island. This Vancouver landmark has been around since the 70s and is popular for its vegan platter, kebabs and casual Afghani dining atmosphere.
While this place is highly rated as one of the best for Afghan food in Vancouver, I would have to disagree. I have been to other Afghan restaurants and they did not taste like a mediterranean/Greek spin off! This cannot be the best that there is in Vancouver.
Don't get me wrong; some of their plates, like the lamb shoulder, were good but, it just didn't taste Afghan. And for the prices being charged, I think I deserved better. I mean, some of the food seemed to be prepared haphazardly: the rice was a little hard and seemed to be undercooked.
I don't mean to be entirely negative, as there were some good things about this restaurant as well (service, environment) but for me, the food was a deal breaker.
I don't know they have survived for 39 years. Tasteless humus, pita from the corner grocery store, greasy pakawra, oily and tasteless lentil soup, overcooked (dry) rice, tasteless salad. A mediocre lamb kebab was the highlight of my dinner. I've been passing this place by for 27 years but I'd read and heard so many rave reviews about it I decided to go. I'll wait another 27 before trying it again.
When you go in, the Afghan Horsemen staff'll greet you warmly and ask "cushions or table?" Table is regular dining. If you say cushions, you'll lose the shoes and go into a room off to the left, where you'll sit at low, very comfortable tables on cushions with your back against the wall. It's great, I absolutely loved the setting.
The rest is pretty average. The food is a nice twist on Greek if you've never tried Afghan before, and they do all manner of shish kabobs and rice/meat based meals. I hear they have a good Vegan menu, but I'm a carnivore so I wouldn't know. When I say it's like Greek, I'm not saying it IS Greek. The tastes offered are much different, but the meal size and what you get in it is comparable.
The staff there is pretty good, the price is decent (about $15-20 for every dish) and the food's nice. I might go back, just for the awesome cushioned seating. Love that.
The humus is delicious. The spinach dip is amazing! None of it is too oily or dry, nor do you taste the awful doughyness that a lot of other places serve. The special alcoholic concoctions served in pottery of varying sizes & shapes is a fun practice/idea. The "Afghan Special Platter" at $43 (serves 2) actually is enough for 3! The two of us had to pack it to go. Delicious! Make sure to leave room for dessert--especially if you couldn't resist adding in an order of appetizer like I did (in spite of the fact that the platter actually includes humus/pita and salad appetizer). The kebabs, though almost on the dry side was made more than alright by the perfectly crisp exterier and very tender meat throughout. The sour cream dip helped to make up for that fact. Couldn't finish the chicken (white meat) kebab in addition to the beef one, as well as the lamb pieces and the veggie roll/wrap of sorts, and the rice. Amazing deep fried potato chips, resembling McD's old spicy curly fries, but a whole lot better! So crunchy! Who needs Pringles/Lays! The vegan plate and lamb grill were both cooked to perfection as well! The shoes-off cushion dining areas are a definite must! The regular table seatings are too boring to even consider! Amazingly, the cushions are kept clean & plush enough, at least I didn't notice any stickiness, spills, etc., against my skin. Most definitely perfect for a date! Also perfect for a cozy family dinner, and also, perfect for having some food & drinks with a perfectly platonic friend for some relaxing chatter. If you decide to order the non-alcoholic "Dough" drink to try, be warned: You better love the taste of pickled/salted sour olives! It tastes just like having a whole glass of that. My companion thought it was more like a pureed veggie soup. Definitely an interesting, but never-to-be repeated beverage. Thanks for the earlier reviews! I definitely took the recommendation and called in to reserve for the cushioned seating area.
Well, I had high hopes here, heard a lot about the place
Hard rice not cooked enough, potato fritters or whatever they were called are very greasy and paper thin piece of potato in the middle of lots of batter... avoid these like the plague
Salad was a bunch of under-ripe, hard veggies
Chicken not a whole lot of flavour
Kids running around making a lot of noise
The troops and I decided to finally grace this abode after several romping rounds at the driving range. We expected a busy restaurant, what with the nice weather and all but to our luck we were able to get a table outside the patio.
The Kabuli Palaw that I shared with the girlfriend lit our tastebuds. The lamb shoulder was tender, perfectly seasoned with a good amount of fatty flavour. The scented rice with kabuli, spinach, potato and califlower side although good wasn't out of this world amazing, and portion wise leaned on the smaller side. Our other 2 friends shared the Kebab Platter, which could feed 2 with just enough food. High praise was given to the skewered meat and lamb shoulder, and one of our minions gave high marks to the feta (basically Greek) salad. Those batter fried potato pakawra slices seemed an odd pairing to the platter however those were devoured with chants for more. Most of us ordered drinks though the sangria I had especially left a dent in the wallet, served in a small wine glass.
I was afraid that service would be a bit lax due to our outdoor seating, but it was reliable enough, with our server even getting in a self-deprecating remark to us about her derriere when she bumped a chair over while crossing over to our table.
I was able to peak into the restaurant as I made a couple of trips to the washroom. Casual, somewhat luxurious feel though that special seating room by the washrooms did nothing for me, if anything a detractor from ever requesting it, and it smelled a little funky, and not the washroom funky.
While the food is excellent it does fall short of spectacular. Critics would argue that there is little distinction to Greek cuisine though that shouldn't be an excuse to finding fault that isn't there. Ignore the overrated kudos and trust your tastebuds. For us? We're coming back for sure.
We had a huge girls night out this weekend with about 20 people and started at this restaurant.
Food was fairly good - we tried the appetizer platters, skewer combos (beef, lamb and chicken were all good) and also had dessert (light and not bad). Drinks here are awesome! They made a few "fishbowl" drinks and gave us each a long straw to share it.... very tastey and loaded with alcohol!
The service was great -- even if our waiter was jetlagged (he said he just came back from Afghanastan) he remembered all of our orders (again, there was 20 of us!) without using a notepad. Drinks were refilled and refilled again, dishes cleared on time and he even gave us free booze on the house.
Ambiance is the catagory where this restaurant shines. They have unique cushion rooms enough for up to 20 - 30 people. These areas are great for parties and the tables are set up condusive to conversation.
Recommended, especially for parties or large groups!
I went to Afghan Horsemen last night with some friends on a last minute dinner pick. I was really excited to go since reading such great reviews of the place. When we walked in, we were approached by our server who asked us, "Table? Or Cushion?" I thought cushion? Then I looked to my left and said, "Definitely cushion!!" What a neat place! The left side of the restaurant was all floor seating with tons of cushions. The entire ceiling was covered in Persian rug/blanket material, it had a tent-like feel. Tres romantic!!
The prices are pretty steep with entrees ranging from $15-40. The portion sizes were ok, I was expecting bigger. My meal had a big amount of food, but my friend ordered the chicken kebab and it only came with a dollop of rice, a small salad, one skewer of meat and fried potatoes.
Another friend had the AUSHAK which were little raviolis. That was a good plate, and I had the BADENJAN BORANI which was baked eggplant, beef chunks and spinach. Out of all our meals, mine was the one I liked least. The rice was good, but the eggplant was bitter, the beef was dry, and the spinach had a sour taste.
I will mention that the pita bread they serve at the beginning, was out of this world!! It was sooo good.
I will probably head back sometime soon and try something else on their menu.
Food: it seemed like an interesting spin on greek food. very tasty although some of it was a lil too greasy. ordered their kebab delight - a lot of meat but it was all very tender and tasty. those pakawra are so yummy and addictive!!
Service: awesome! they made sure to check on everyone every so often and were always attentive and friendly. the only thing that bothered me was that we wanted out leftovers to go but the waiter never came with it.
Ambiance: must try the cushion rooms - very comfy but only if you don't wear a skirt which some poor girl beside me was and looked a lil uncomfortable. it's one of those dining experiences you have to try because it's just so different from everything else you've ever done.
The service was a joke. The girl behind the counter was on the cell from time we got as a group until we lift the place. The rice was very hard and the Kababs were under cooked. The owner as frolicking with a bunch of drunk girls on a table instead of checking on us. But that is not all !! They charge you the tip already over what you have ordered. If you do not keep track of your order you would end up double tipping. Not impressed at all and will NOT go back!!!
Came here last night for my 19th birthday with reservations for 24 people.. and here's how it went down.
Okay, each dish was from about 14-20 dollars, with shared platters for about 35 bucks between two people (there was a LOT of food for those platters). Almost everyone really liked their food and was super filling (huge portions). It was understandable that the food took a little while with the amount of people we had and how busy the restaurant was, but it was just bad that it took an hour for MY food to arrive (I ordered in the first batch or orders.. and people were already halfway through their food before I got mine).
I had a few iffy's with the vegetarian dishes, and the reason why I only gave the food a 3 was because I just disliked my dish a lot. Honestly, everyone elses food looked great and smelled great too.. I must have ordered the wrong thing. I got the dolmah and veggies plate. It was a couple of lumps of stuff on my plate. Overcooked spinach, overcooked cauliflower, overcooked eggplant, undercooked half a potato, and the dolmah (wrap with rice in it, about half the size of my fist). It was bland and gross, and took one hour for them to get it to me. So I was pissed. Everyone else's dishes looked amazing though. Sigh.
The place looked great, outside doesn't look like much but the inside looks very nicely decorated, with dimmed lights and paintings. What kinda ruined it was the tv right above our table.. should take it out. There was live belly dancing which was pretty cool. They should turn down the music a bit though.
I think the service here is just incredible. The owner of the store is very friendly, and the server we had remembered my name, and wished me a happy birthday as well. He was very patient with my party even though 1/3 of my guests came 45 mins late. Before I left and went up to the register to pay, the server asked me how old I was turning, which is 19. He was shocked that I had never had a drink before, and so insisted on getting me my first shot. He made me an "Afghan" shot, which is like 2 and a half shots in one. Needless to say, it was hilarious and I had a great time despite my yucky food.
I'll come back to try some of their other dishes, I probably just ordered the wrong thing. Had an amazing night and would recommend it for both just to have dinner or have a party.
The meats here are good. Flavorful, interesting and authentically prepared. I find that the times I've been here the portions tend to change, on my last visit I ordered the lamb shank, the meat was great but the sides were blah, soggy and bland.
I've sat on their patio, in the dining room and in their special room the last time. First and last. A group of us were sat (we had a reso) in the special room, there was about 15 people or so, so we took up quite a bit. We sat on these gross cushions that were uncomfortably flat/hard and worn in. I don't mind the idea of sitting on the floor enjoying a meal but as we were waiting for our drinks I noticed that the cutlery was dirty and that there was rice mashed into the pillows and my foot was next to a chicken bone under the table. It was disgusting to say the least. I asked the server for a napkin as I was just going to pick it up and ask her to take it away, not only did it take forver for her to bring a napkin when I asked her to take the wrapped pre-eaten bone she looked at me like I was grossing her out - I told her that it was underneath my table when I sat there - they obviosuly they don't clean after each sitting, resetting a table isn't enough in that type of seating arrangment.
Anyhow, after that I started to get poor service on purpose I think, it took forver to get her to come by - albiet there was a large group but she would only do one thing at a time per person as opposed to going around and being more efficient.
Like I said the food is good, but not great. The service is hit or miss in my opinion and the value is okay, it depends on how much you get on that day. As for ambiance I don't know about most people but I took a quick look at the surroundings and it was unclean, old and uncomfortable, especially when your experience revovles around you sitting on pillows on the floor in a room with a bunch of people with your shoes off - you'd think they'd want to keep things as clean as possible. I wish this place had a nice little shop where they do take out. Instead they have a novelty restaurant that offers a mediocre experience in more ways that one.
Nothing was really terrible, but everything was generally not great here -- the service, the food, the prices. It seems that Afghan food is a mix of Indian and Greek. For the prices they charge-- 17 dollars for a biggish lamb dinner (not as big as some of the Greek restaurants around town), 15 dollars for a small veggie plate that left both people who ordered it hungry-- the food was definitely nothing special. The special drink, the dough? the salty mint yogurt drink, was undrinkable. You can get the same food cheaper and better at various restaurants around town. Service was very slow as well. Won't be going back.
Oh god! For a date you must try the cushion room. I got to sit on these very soft cushions with my sweetheart in a way you cant sit with someone at a table, it almost feels like your in bed with them its very intimate and romantic and dimly lit with candle light
The Pakawra could be considered the worlds greatest 'Fry' Variation. The food was delicious and had reasonable portions.It definitly wasnt fruffy or anything like that. I also recommend there three dip platter to start or you might not get full off there dishes since there are very little carbs served with your meal (Our meal came with a salad and a few Pakawra) i got full off just one beef kabob though it was delicious and tasted like good grade steak. the ambience was great very relaxing and romantic would definitly go when i want to impress.
great date spot when u sit on the cushions. It's fun because u get to sit on the same side of the table!... haha anyways the ambiance isn't nice looking, it's just like a nice place to chill and relax with your date. Had the platter, the one that wasn't the all meat one and the one that wasn't the all vegitarian one... Salad was very fresh, hummus and bread were excellent. And the platter was great too. We finished it all. Overall a pretty good experience. I sorta had high expectations too for it, and wasn't really disappointed.. which is a really really good thing!
This was an excellent experience into a cuisine type I have never enjoyed before. It seems very similar to greek food, to me anyways-but slightly different. We had the kebab platter for two. Great fun picking and nibbling. A good romantic feeling too.
We sat on the floor on cushions, which was different as well.
The server on the other hand, was hard to get, and often MIA. Our water glasses were dirty, and we pointed that out, but never got replacements.
It's a great enjoyment otherwise. So hopefully, this is a server to soon be replaced. I would love to try again, but not to be served by her.
I used to eat @ the old Afghan Horsemen more years ago than I care to admit so I was intrigued when I saw the old stalwart make a move into new territory-much closer to home too.
As per my starred rating the food was solid, I at first got hung up on whether or not it had changed from what I remembered but then I decided to let it stand on it's own and it does.
It's well cooked with just the right amount of black pepper in the background a pleasing array of flavours.
Service was excellent-experienced, friendly and efficient without being obtrusive.
The atmosphere in this place is a winner, quite unlike anything else in town-I've been in places that cost literally millions to design that weren't half as relaxing, pleasing and cool looking-I mean cool without being self conscious and artificially 'hip'.
If you're up for something different in a central location this place is a winner, great place to bring out-of-towners too.
Impress your date/family/friends by taking them out to somewhere a little different. The restaurant is dimly lit, decorated with portraits, and upholstered in cozy, colourful fabrics. Pick the cushions but beware that after you fill yourself with the delicious food you might have some trouble standing up! The Horsemen platter for two stuffed us to the brim...no desserts this time. The lamb shoulder and chicken kebab were delicious, and the eggplant was really good too. Love the fried potato slices as well [can't remember their actual name]. Wash it down with some Afghan tea and feel all the yummy flavours in your stomach :)
I go to this restaurant only occasionally, not becuase I don't love it but becuase it's not really close to where I live. The food is great and I love the turkish style coffee they serve. They also bring a very generous plate of afghan rice with their platters (sometimes you have to ask for it, but it is included with the platter). I never leave unsatisfied and the food always tastes great.
I read another review about the table and floor being dirty. I have seen a few times when things could have been a bit cleaner, but I think it may be hard when they are very busy and the lighting is low. In my 20 to 30 times eating at this restaurant, I have not experienced the level of uncleanliness mentioned by that reviewer. Maybe a fork needed rewashing or a booth seat or table had a spot missed. Nothing worse than that.
I had had a short but nice conversation once with one of the servers one night just before closing time (after a wonderful meal). After that, I hadn't been back for at least a year and when I did, I got the same server. She not only remembered me, but mentioned our conversation too, and remembered the details! It was really nice and I felt like she really cared! How rare for a busy restaurant like that.
Also, the belly dancing on Saturday night is a lot of fun. The dancers do a good job of working their way around the room and the show doesn't last so long that it becomes a major disruption for those people who are not really into it.
I love the decor as well, especially the historical photos and items in the display cabinet. The cushion seating may be great for some people, but I have circulatory problems and only like to sit at the booths or chairs.
When someone is looking for a place for a birthday dinner, or a group gathering, the Afghan Horsemen is the first place I think of. I'd been once to the previous location (on W. Broadway), and once to the new location (both for friends' birthdays) before I had a fantastic birthday dinner of my own. It was everything I'd hoped for, and more!
For my birthday, we had the majority of the 'pillow room' to ourselves (20 people; sits about 25). The atmosphere is fantastic; for the 'main restaurant 'I'd give a 4-star rating for ambiance, but a 5-star rating for the 'pillow room'. No shoes allowed; we sat around the perimeter of the room on low two-person tables on cushions and pillows. My fiends and I were constantly moving around the room, but the servers rarely had any problems sorting out who ordered what, and where it was going. Their rules were fairly strict upon making the reservation, but it was immediately understandable as they don't have the room for people standing around. We were a tad early, and we were getting in the way of the servers while they were setting our tables.
The highlight of the evening was when the belly dancer arrived, and showed us some impressive maneuvers with her belly and a sword. I was enlisted to learn some techniques on my own, and while I'm sure I made an ass of myself, it was a blast.
The food was great; similar to Greek but with a unique flavor. Not exactly cheap, but far from a rip-off. I look forward to my next visit!