Dining in Dushanbe: Merve

Dushanbe isn’t NYC, it isn’t Paris, and it most certainly isn’t Rome. In other words it may not be the most high-trafficked culinary city in terms of tourism, but having had the opportunity to dine out around town quite often I feel it my duty to dish the 411 on the good and bad plates in this big Central Asian city. To kick it off I’ll start with Merve.

Merve makes Lonely Planet’s Author’s Choice and for good reason. Affordable, tasty meals with friendly wait-staff make this one a real winner. For the first two weeks of my stay, Merve was the breakfast stop for me and my Habitat GV companions every morning. Start the day with a small yoghurt, sausage omelet, or Turkish pizza – three menu items that quickly became personal favorites. Initially the sausage has an awkward taste, but it grows on you. I’m told its chicken sausage since pork can’t really be found in Dushanbe. Mornings are pretty quiet at the Turkish cafe, but things start getting really busy around 11 AM and stay busy until closing time. If you check in for lunch, grab the donar kebab. It can be prepared on a sandwich, but go for the shredded meat over rice. Dishes range from 2TJS-7TJS.

There are two locations in Dushanbe, though the most popular appears to be that found at Rudaki 92.