I remember looking for this place for the first time, it was a few months before Ramadhan last year. Another hole in the wall, we missed the simple signage and couldn’t find the place. It took us two rounds along Ponciano Street (since it’s a one-way street) to finally find it. It was a Friday, needless to say, it was CLOSED! (Friday is a day of prayer in Islam) I learned about this place through a friend who happened to post pictures online. I eat out a lot, so I’m always on the lookout for a new place to dine. So finally one day we managed to get a table, or a carpet for that matter, and we kept coming back from then on. It’s not about the elaborate interiors or the fine cuisine, in fact it’s quite humble if I were to compare it to my favorite cafes, but the friendly and laid back ambiance will grow on you and the next thing you know, you’re a certified Zabber.
With the proliferation of cafes in town, with different concepts and ambiance, you could pick any place that suits your mood. At any given time, or mood, I’d choose Zabadani Cafe. A carpet ride that transports you to a new dimension of dining experience, Zabadani Cafe is a cross between a cafe and a bistro. Although it is marketed as a cafe because they serve light meals and drinks, it has a bistro appeal to it because of its homey feel. The barista/manager/waiter/owner is very friendly. When I was still in school, I’d make my projects there. Bring a book and read voraciously because the place is conducive for reading in the afternoons. I even slept there unintentionally, though.
A must try is the Beef Kabsa, a dish of tender slices of beef in a bed of flavorful rice, garnished with roasted tomatoes, onions and fresh cucumber. You can also have it with chicken or fish. I also like their Samboosak, a fancy pastry filled with savory ground meat and spices. I’ve tried almost everything from the menu, and every item is a continuation of the other. Like a book, each dish is a chapter that works towards the same plot. They use similar Mediterranean spices to each dish, so it gives a range of flavors telling the same story. If you like one dish, it is likely that you will like the other items, so be adventurous to explore.
I lost count of the number of times I’ve been to this place. That’s how I like it. The parking, the restroom, the stench of spices on your shirt when you get home, all these are forgivable. Plus there’s a cute blue Persian cat named Ramadeey roaming around! Entertaining!
Syrian food at Zabadani Cafe is right up my alley.