Located on East Coffee Street downtown, Greenville’s first and only Afghan restaurant is about a 10-minute drive from the BJU campus.
Aryana Afghan Cuisine opened about three months ago on Nov. 4 but has already made it to No. 5 on Yelp’s 10 Best Restaurants in Greenville.
The owner of the self-described cafeteria-style restaurant, Nelo Mayar (originally from Afghanistan), makes six different traditional dishes daily from scratch, and guests can purchase a plate featuring a portion of all six for $9.60.
Dishes vary depending on the day.
Why six? Employee Summer Vaughn said that in Afghanistan, a family will usually prepare three dishes for meals: a vegetable, a starch and a meat dish. Except when guests arrive, then the family will prepare six, two of each, because guests are a blessing and the family wants to bless its guests with food.
“It’s like going into your mom’s kitchen,” Vaughn said.
“At Aryana we want our guests to feel welcome and leave full and satisfied.”
Some traditional dishes include chicken kabob, sweet potato burani (sweet potatoes with a yogurt sauce), adas (lentils), kabuli palau (a variety of rice pilaf), and more.
Dishes are flavorful and diverse and come with pita bread. Another unique menu item is the traditional cardamom green tea.
Mayar does all preparation and cooking herself and in the past has taught classes on Afghan cooking at Furman University.
The restaurant is on the first floor of a renovated house and is open, bright, clean and spacious. Guests collect food, choose a table and pay when finished. Restaurant staff is friendly and take drink orders and check in to make sure guests are satisfied.
Bright traditional and popular Middle Eastern music plays, and the walls are decorated with vibrant pictures of Afghan landscapes.
With warm staff, a colorful restaurant and homemade food, Aryana Afghan Cuisine stands out as a unique and international addition to Greenville’s restaurant community.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.