Reviews


rating star

I got the dolmas and tabouli salad which were decent, but I was not overly impressed, especially as the waiter put us at a uneven, unsteady table by the door where everyone had to inch past us, thus wobbling the table further. When we complained, the waiter put a napkin under one of the table legs when open tables were clearly available.

Image for qster

rating star

This Kurdish restaurant has great atmosphere and offers a large variety of vegetarian & vegan options!
The interior is striking with bright colors, rich tapestries, regional photographs, and sun shining in during the noon hour. It is casual, comfortable dining at small tables or cozy booths.
I had the Biryani, a flavorful dish of rice, noodles, potatoes, vegetables, and raisins in a delicious lemony oil. It was served with a Silopi (fresh cucumber and tomato) salad. I also tasted the Garbanzo Bean Shilla which was rich and filling. Both entrees were wonderful! The bread is thick and fluffy and comes with the meal.
Portions are generous and prices are very reasonable ($7-8).
I'll go back!


rating star

You MUST order the Niskena. It may not sound good to you, but it's the best thing on the menu for vegans. You also need Kurdish bread to dip in the Niskena. The Kurdish lemonade is also yummy. The rest of the vegan options are good, but not as great as the Niskena.

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Babani's is a quaint, friendly place with simple, light Middle Eastern food. I came for lunch twice and was impressed with the prices (the lunch specials come with a salad and all cost $7-9) and have reasonable portion sizes.

The first time I had a mushroom-zucchini saute (called "bakla"; $8) over white rice which was tasty, though not that unusual or distinctly "Kurdish"---my dish could have been from anywhere between Greece and Iran. I wish they had an option for brown rice, too. However, my friend had a garbanzo stew ($7) with a side of tabouli and both were excellent and far more flavorful than my dish.

The second time I went to Babani's I tried their "niskena" soup ($5 for a bowl) and a side of Kurdish bread ($1.75) which other reviewers had mentioned. The niskena is basically a lentil soup that was fairly tasty, but needed black pepper, as well as some red chili flakes, to really give it some flavor. Otherwise, it's basically a watery, spice-less Indian dal. The Kurdish bread is fluffy, just slightly oily, and goes well with the soup, though be warned it's filling.

On both occasions, the service was prompt, attentive, friendly and knowledgeable about what dishes were vegan (most of the vegetarian dishes are vegan by default, or can be made vegan if you omit the cheese, but none of the appetizers are vegan).

Babani's is definitely a winner.


rating star

This restaurant is great! The tiny seating area allows a view of the kitchen, the waitstaff is friendly and full of suggestions for dishes to try, and veg*ns have quite a few options to choose from. Portions are filling and full of flavor, though not spicy. A fun option for those looking for an alternative to common Mediterranean or Indian food.

Image for Unny Nambudiripad

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I've eaten here several times, and I've been impressed with everything I've eaten. The food is flavorful, though I can't say it's particularly inventive. It's a good place to bring vegetarians and non-vegetarians together. The prices are reasonable.


rating star

I really enjoyed my visit to Babani's.

I tried the Biryani, which is rice with peas, almonds, raisins, veggies and a blend of spices. It was very tasty, especially with the Traditional Silopi Salad.

My lunch companion had the Garbanzo Bean Shilla (garbanzo beans in a broth with a little curry and other spices) which was pretty good, not mind blowing. However, mixed with my dish, it was excellent. The tabouli salad was quite good, too.

The food was very satisfying and really hit the spot. I'd like to try the other dishes and the soup.


rating star

I wish I had more good things to say about this restaurant, especially since it claims to be the first Kurdish restaurant in the U.S.. But, in the couple of times I have been there, nothing I tried was exceptionally good and some vegetables tasted a bit freezer-burned. I'm sorry to say that I can cook better food than I had there.

Image for Ramona

rating star

Yes, the vegan soup and the bread are excellent. I also really liked the tabouli. None of the other dishes we had (I went with a group and we tried pretty much all the vegan dishes) struck me as being great but they were all pretty good. Another reason I'm giving them a 7 is that they don't have any vegan desserts and I like having something sweet when I go out.


rating star

The soup everyone is raving about it really good - and the servings are large. The Kurdish bread is also wonderful - and large. Soup and bread is easily a meal, but if you want to order something else, try the dolmas. The dolma plate comes with six or seven dolmas wrapped in grapes leaves and cabbage leaves - as well as salad (get the tabouli - it's great), rice, and soup (why not try the Niskeena?). Very very good.


rating star

The Niskena soup is awesome and that bread is also really great. and the lemonade too. that's what i would get if i went there right now.


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No one has mentioned the Kurdish lemonade, which is absolutely fan-flippin'-tastic. Sour, almost bitter, earthy... not your grandmother's lemonade (unless you're Kurdish, I suppose). The dolmades are great: not just stuffed grape leaves, but stuffed cabbage, onion, and tomato as well. There's a rice dish with mushrooms and dill that's also pretty darn to-die-for.


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They have a number of vegetarian dishes but I have never been impressed by them. The dishes I've had have been bland and generally disapponting, especially their chick pea dish. However, their bread and feta cheese are good


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I like the niskena soup, too. Most of the entrees are what I call "simple food"... rice-based dishes: nothing special, but pretty good. Try the baklava, if you're a skinny gourmand like me and still need something more to eat. It's much more nutty and less sweet than the usual baklava.

I enjoy the atmosphere (I nearly gave this rating an "8") and location most of all. Babani's a good reason to go to downtown Saint Paul instead of Minneapolis!


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I once drove all the way to Babani's from minneapolis in a nasty snowstorm in a car with no heat when I was feeling like crap just to get myself some Niskena and fresh bread. It's the perfect comfort food.


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The Kurdish bread and niskeena soup are excellent, as are the dolmas

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