Hidden afghan gem in palo alto

Moods wine bar, california ave, aka printers ink cafe

In the spirit of ‘I’m bored’, we went to California Ave to try our luck. I was really just thinking of a Tuesday night zareens burger thing, but we checked newly starred Italico (good but too straight menu), the new pop up kitchen in the old The Counter space (the melt + curry up = yawn, with the exception of sr sissig), and we saw that Moods was open and happily serving. We found three app-ish sized afghani dishes on the menu, and took a table.

Eventually, the owner, mahmood, came around, and we ordered up, with wine. The food came out leisurely, and i wouldn’t say the spicing was vibrant or the bread house made, but it was a super pleasant surprise to taste a meat sauce dumpling, an eggplant with more bitter and balance than a baba ganoosh, and a ‘channa masala’ in the afhgani style, which apparently has a different chickpea texture, softer.

Catty corner, calave is probably still doing well. I haven’t been since pandemic, but pre pandemic and every time since opening, they have always had a solid level of quality. If i want a wine bar with good food,it is a favorite (sightly higher than vino locale in pa). Bacon wrapped dates and an amaro by the glass, if i remember.

Moods is… Quirkier. There was vintage 80 music videos in the background (prince when we first sat, moving to some faux egyptian thing including Michael Jackson, and onward). The food has a long pause, VERY long pause, before delivery of a wilted flatbread and the afghan dishes, which came warm and pleasant.

Get all the afghan dishes, bring good company, and modest expectations, and enjoy.

While i might still send a newcomer anywhere else - terun, jin sho, zareens, calave, protoge, med wraps, del medio, sun of wolf, elan, pastis, beijing duck, baume - during the day backyard brew and izzys - the street hits pretty heavy - it was so nice to happen into something fresh and heartfelt on a Tuesday evening.

Say hi to mahmood if you go. He apologetically admitted the dumplings were wrong, they were ‘chinese style’ instead of the ones he makes himself ( aka he bought some from one of the good local Chinese dumpling suppliers). Right sauce, he said, though.


lol. did they taste like from Dumpling City down the street?

I have to try this some time. We have been eating a bit more Afghan lately and its nice not having to trek to Fremont or Santa Clara. Thanks for the find.

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I actually haven’t gotten Dumpling City. I get to-go bags from my usual restaurants, so wouldn’t be able to tell :slight_smile:

I considered asking… and was happy he was honest about it.

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