The restaurant, started by Wais Mohibi and his business partner/head chef, is the first joint venture from a duo that has had quite a bit of experience in the Queens restaurant scene. Mohibi has worked in other Afghani restaurants in the borough, but this is the first restaurant he has been involved with that he doesn't classify as "fast food."
"We deal primarily with different kinds of kebabs. Lamb, chicken, beef and fish, all grilled on skewers and served with totally different kind of rice that people might be used to," said Mohibi.
In addition to the hot kebabs and curry dishes served at the restaurant, Mohibi is quick to point out the "tea room" portion of his restaurants name.
"Afghani people love to drink tea,” he said. “They come to drink tea, and they also order food."
The Afghan Tea Room and Grill serves what its owner describes as a plain Afghani tea that, like the rice, has a unique and unusual taste that Americans might not have had before.
Adding to the lounge atmosphere of the restaurant are several lowered tables that have large pillows instead of chairs. These tables, placed against the restaurants large window, are situated next to large tobacco hookahs, so that customers can enjoy flavored smoke while they sip tea and nosh on kebabs.
When asked about the restaurant's specialty item, Mohibi is quick to point out the Kabuli Palow, a traditional Afghani vegetable curry dish served with raisins, almonds, and lamb. The humble owner was reluctant to say that it was the best in New York City, but once he did, he seemed pretty certain of his claim.
The Afghan Tea Room and Grill has only been open for a few days, but Mohibi says that he has been very busy and has received high praise for his restaurant's fare.
"We've had a lot of compliments already," he said.
The Afghan Tea Room and Grill is located at 71-03 Grand Avenue in Maspeth. The menu is available on their website.