BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT (2004)

Nestled

Nestled in between a Dunn Bros and a Jamba Juice on the super-busy intersection of Snelling and Grand Avenues, Khyber Pass, with its soothing yellow lighting, quiet decor, and sweetly strumming sitar sounds is an oasis from the bustle of the everyday commute. There's a certain calm to the place; patrons even tend to assume a pleasantly hushed tone while dining here that fits perfectly with the no-frills, just plain good Afghani comfort food. Must-have appetizers include two types of chutney: walnut and cilantro, a snappy green, nutty, garlicky mix; and red pepper-apricot, a hot, tangy zap! There's also creamy-garlicky hummus drizzled with olive oil, and salata, a refreshing mix of chopped tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Shola, a favorite vegetarian entrée consisting of mung beans and rice swirled with tart yogurt and spicy chutney, should be a standard comfort meal for all vegetarians. Also not to be missed are the kabobs. Be sure to try the chai tea, sweet and softly textured, yet boldly spiced with cardamom. You'll definitely want to take advantage of the refills.

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