Darbar Halal, a new Afghan restaurant, opens in Clarkston
It's offering a limited selection for now, but the menu and the space will be expanding.
Sandwiched between a Chevron gas station on Church Street, and I-285 exit 40, glowing neon lights flash different colors, beckoning diners into Darbar Halal.
The family owned Afghan restaurant, which opened its doors this week, is run by Baseer Basil, an artist and a businessman, who also owns the nearby Kabul Market on Lawrenceville Highway. He had been renting the space for over a year, but because of licensing and permits, it took a while to welcome customers.
“Do you know Dekalb County? It is very slow,” he said, laughing, standing outside the restaurant front on Thursday. “Every inspection takes two months, three months.”
Baseer’s son Hamza was working the front counter. He said his dad felt the need to launch Darbar Halal because there was no Afghan restaurant in the Clarkston, Stone Mountain, or Decatur area. The aim is to serve a fast growing population, with hundreds arriving since the 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
“A lot of Afghanis, they reside here in Clarkston. [It’s] walking distance for them to just come in and have something.”
But since opening, he says it isn’t only Afghans who are coming.
“I've had a lot of Somalis, Ethiopians, and Syrians. There's a large community of Muslims here, and especially, we have a mosque right down the street.”
Right now, the menu is limited to kabuli pulao, the national dish of Afghanistan, which is rice cooked with carrots, raisins, and marinated lamb, as well as a mix of kabobs including beef koobideh, chopan (lamb), and chicken tikka. Baseer’s wife cooks the meat in the back kitchen over hot coals, and a chef who owned restaurants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, stirs a giant metal pot of the rice.
The dining space is small with walls painted bright red and orange, and a handful of tables. The plan is to expand the menu - and the space - in the coming weeks. Hamza said an updated menu will include bolanis (a pan-fried flatbread stuffed with potatoes), aushak (steamed dumplings filled with chives and topped with tomato sauce and yogurt), karahis (chicken, lamb, or beef cooked with tomatoes, onions, and spices), as well as wings and halal pizza. He also said a juice bar was on the horizon, “with pistachios, almonds, walnuts - everything from Afghanistan.”
For the attached dining hall, which is at least three times the size of the current restaurant, Baseer has big plans. It now sits empty, but there are pencil drawings on the floor - mapping out his plans to fill it with his original artwork, a stage, and Afghan rugs and cushions - so it can be a space for weddings and events.
“I want my restaurant natural Afghani. Afghani carpet, Afghan food. So in Darbar restaurant, you feel you’re in a Kabul restaurant,” he said.
For years it has been Baseer’s dream to open an Afghan restaurant.
On Thursday evening, as he watched over several Afghan patrons spooning heaps of kabuli pulao onto their plates, and cutting into kebobs, that dream was beginning to become reality.
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