Noon O Kabab Is There for Wednesday Blahs, Big Birthdays, and Everything In Between

It’s one of Chicago’s most beloved Persian restaurants for a reason.

5 min read

Most of the restaurants in our delivery rotation fulfill specific moods or purposes. Pizza for a Sunday TV event. Salads for desk lunches. Sushi for TGIF. Thai for an antidote to the Wednesday blahs. Noon O Kabab is more like an always-welcome friend: Whenever we think of it, we want to have it over to the house. 

Open since 1997, this pioneering Persian restaurant has long been a stalwart presence in Albany Park. It’s located in Chicago’s most diverse dining neighborhood and one that has been enriched by waves of immigration. Persian and Afghan restaurants keep company with Korean barbecue houses and Salvadoran pupuserías. Halal butchers and Syrian sweet shops share blocks with Mexican supermercados with fantastic taco counters in the back. 

Carryout and delivery has long been a major part of Noon O Kabab’s business. When it outgrew its 11-table dining room, it moved across the street, keeping the original location for to-go orders. It outgrew that as well, vacating its original premises (which became Helmand, a sweet Afghan spot) and opening a catering facility.

Perhaps that’s why the food that gets sent out for delivery arrives so quickly, and is so fresh and generously portioned that the clamshells steam when you crack them open. We always order enough to keep leftovers for a week of lunchtime bliss. Once you get to know the menu of kebabs, dips, salads, soups, and stews, you see how easy it is to mix and match. For instance, if it’s just two of us, we order the Soltani, which comes with one barg kebab (filet mignon, cooked to temperature and always on the mark), one koubideh kebab (seasoned ground sirloin), and a lovely assortment of grilled vegetables. Plus, as much rice as I’d make for six people. 

Speaking of rice, you can order fluffy white basmati rice streaked with some saffron-tinted grains, dill rice studded with lima beans, or half of each. But we like to upgrade to the house shirin polo, a sweet-savory and colorful rice mixed with candied orange peel, golden raisins, dried barberries, pistachios, and shredded carrot. It is edible happiness. 

While Noon O Kabab is a regular weeknight visitor in our house, it also drops by for parties and special days. It has become something of a tradition to order it the night before Thanksgiving when our kids come to town, usually with a handful of friends who may be vegetarian or gluten intolerant. We’ll front load the order with kash-ke-bademjan (roasted eggplant dip with mint, garlic, and dried yogurt), must-o-khiar (yogurt with cucumbers and mint), and falafel. We also always like the tahdig with a crispy rice crust that arrives as large and nearly as thin as a Monopoly board, ready to douse with stew. 

When I celebrated an odometer birthday last year, my extended family of 30 people all decided to descend on Chicago. We rented a nice space with a patio, told our friends to swing by, and then went through all the options for catering before coming to the conclusion that Noon O Kabab was the optimal choice. There’s something about well-prepared Persian food that’s so cheerful and welcoming, a friend you always want at the party. May this restaurant’s next 25 years be as fruitful as its first.