Morrisville, N.C. — The mustache craze seems to be everywhere. So when Out and About heard about a place called Moustache Cafe we had to find out more. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't just some hipster place filled with people wearing fake mustaches.
Location: Located a few minutes from RDU in a strip mall next to Carmen's Cuban Cafe, Moustache hasn't been around that long. (They opened in November.) In fact, outside you can still see the traces of the Quiznos sign that used to hang outside.
Inside, the atmosphere is relaxed. You order at the counter and then pick up your food a few feet away. A chalk board presents the daily specials and there are even photos of some of the menu items on the wall.
The decor is fun - playing with the mustache theme - but not tacky. There are small mustaches attached to sticks inside a vase on each table. And the walls are filled with photos of people with mustaches - celebrities, politicians, athletes.
The food: Persian made from locally sourced, organic ingredients. They have several different types of kabobs (veggie, ground chuck, chicken and lamb), a few daily specials and sandwiches. They also offer free Persian tea. Just make sure to read the instructions and dilute it with some water because it is strong. A small selection of beer and wine by the glass and bottle are also on the menu.
Kathy: My first visit here, owner and head chef Michael Nader (who has a great mustache, BTW) could see I was having trouble deciding what to get. I was with my mother and infant son and he was more than happy to give us a rundown on the menu and popular items. We tried the ground chuck and chicken kabobs and the spinach and tarragon pie for an appetizer. I found the beef kabob a bit chewy, but enjoyed the chicken one. The pie was great. I liked the little pieces of cranberry inside. I knew I wanted to go back with the Out and About team for a review soon so I could try out a few more items.
During the review visit, I ordered the roasted garlic and pepper humus and the veggie kabob. The humus was a great blend of flavors and had just a hint of spiciness. The veggie kabob contained tofu, mushroom, eggplant, zucchini, onions and red peppers. The tofu was perfect. Sometimes when I've had tofu at other restaurant it can be little too spongy or chewy. They did it just right. The star of this entree, however, was this sweet and sour pomegranate sauce they glazed the kabob in. It was sweet enough to bring out the flavors really well and was a great topping for their saffron rice.
My only complaint with the meal was the lack of pitas for the hummus. With an appetizer order, they only give you a few pieces of pita to eat it with. With an order of hummus that big, you need a little more pita! (UPDATE: Owner Michael Nader said more pitas are available by request.)
The dessert was also amazing. More on that below.
Caitlin: I had never eaten Persian food before, but after my first visit to Moustache Cafe, I’m eager to eat it again. I chose the spicy stuffed peppers from the daily specials board, which were stuffed with yellow rice and corn, topped with a red sauce and melted cheese, and really weren’t that spicy…a good option if you’re hesitant to dive right into this exotic cuisine. The hummus was delicious, fluffy and slightly spicy, although I wish that the dish came with more pita chips for the amount of hummus on the plate. Dessert was once again the standout for me. (Read more about the dessert below) The staff was very friendly and helpful. Don’t forget to try the free Persian tea!
Tara: I was extremely excited to try out Moustache Cafe, because I mean, come on what a great name, however I was a little nervous about trying Persian cuisine. I had never had it before and most of the time I stick with things like burgers, steak, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had pictures of their entrees which gave you an idea of what you were getting, and the staff was extremely friendly and very helpful explaining what the different dishes were. Still, being a little standoffish I opted for the chicken salad sandwich and I have to say it is the best I have ever had! The chicken salad, served inside a giant pita, was jammed packed with lettuce and tomatoes and topped with Mast-o-Khiar - a traditional Persian dish of homemade organic yogurt and cucumbers. It was absolutely amazing! If you are looking to ease yourself into this cuisine, I highly recommend this sandwich and with the combo totaling about $6 you have nothing to lose.
P.S. the decorations alone make it worth the trip!
Lisa: I’m a sucker for a vegetarian daily special and when I arrived to meet my lunch crew I was famished (just say no to skipping breakfast, kids) – so the idea of a hearty sandwich was an instant sell. I opted for the hummus as my side, which had a surprising bit of spicy flavor to it… yum! I left beyond satisfied and even with a $1 counter tip, ended up spending less than $8 on a tasty, and mildly healthy, lunch.
And what’s a girls’ lunch out of the office without a little dessert? (Read more on that below)
Oh, and can’t forget, they have Cheerwine! I will be back. Soon. I’m also looking forward to trying Carmen’s next door!
Dessert: We tried their homemade baklava and tiramisu. Both were outstanding. The baklava was fresh, flaky and sweet. The tiramisu, while not Persian, was a great variation on the dessert. It was like a "light, airy cheesecake," Caitlin said. She even dubbed it Cheesisu (cheesecake, tiramisu). Lisa referred to it as "part cheesecake, part heaven." It was definitely large enough to split so you didn't destroy your healthy lunch.
Service: Excellent. The staff is great at explaining the entrees and helping you decide what you might want to try. Owner Michael Nader also visits each table to see how the meal was.
Cost: All of the appetizers come in under $4 and are large enough portions to share. The kabobs come in around $8 with the exception of the filet mignon and the combo kabob, which come in at $12.50 and $15 respectively. Sandwich meals are $6 each. Desserts are also come in under $3 each. Baklava was $1.45 each piece.
The Verdict: We want to go back!