The Rapidian Home

Local Persian fare tantalizes tastebuds

Underwriting support from:


This article was written and edited by Bart Boorsma, Brittney Frye, Kailey Smith, Rachelle Van Dyke and Wes Vos for EN 101-1300 at GRCC.

You don’t have to go to Persia to get a Mediterranean experience. At Shiraz Grille in Grand Rapids, authentic food brings you to the heart of the Mediterranean, making you feel as though you can smell the salt from the sea and feel the cooling Mediterranean breeze on your skin.  This restaurant offers cuisine with a variety of different depths of flavor that nearly everyone will enjoy.

Shiraz Grille was named after the Iranian “city of gardens” Shiraz, famous for its poetry, wine, and flowers.  The owner of Shiraz grill, Ali Ghebleh, grew up in the heart of Persia (or as it is commonly know, Iran) watching his mother cook the lamb and beef flavored with many spices.  He has kept these recipes and traditions and uses them to his advantage at his restaurant, the only Persian restaurant in the state of Michigan.

Ghebleh opened Shiraz in the spring of 2009. “I loved cooking food from my home country, and I desired to share my culture with my guests, as well as friends and family,” he said. He has felt no need to change or Americanize the traditional Persian foods because he feels that the food has flavors that “grab everyone.”  And so far, he’s been right.

In many dishes at Shiraz, tender, seasoned beef, lamb, and chicken are served alongside grilled vegetables and moist white rice. The meat and rice are lightly seasoned with herbs commonly used in Persian foods, including saffron, turmeric, and lime.  

Thinking of visiting Shiraz? Consider ordering the chicken or beef sultani. “Sultani means one order of koubideh (ground meat) and one of barg (whole fillet). It’s a very traditional dish, and you get to try two kabobs for a great price” Parianna, the daughter of the owner and also a server at the Grille explained.

Shiraz’s lamb dishes are also extremely popular with guests.  This, Ghebleh explained, is because “we purchase the best lamb, and the ingredients combined with the intense preparation of these dishes create an exquisite entrée.” 

While some are not hesitant to try lamb, others stick to what they think they know.  Although you can get chicken at other restaurants, nothing comes close to the Pomegranate Chicken entrée or the Saffron Chicken entrée served by Shiraz Grille.  These are also popular among customers because of the uniqueness of the chicken and its preparation.

Not a meat eater? Not a problem. Delicious dishes are served at Shiraz Grille for you, too.  Rice, tomato sauce, herbs, and split pea are wrapped in grape leaves for a delectable vegetarian dish called dolmeh.  “The vegetarian dishes at Shiraz are better than most other places. They are so flavorful, and there are so many options. My favorite is the Vegetarian Gheymeh Bodemjon,” Parianna shared.  She is a vegetarian herself and knows a good vegetarian dish from a bad one.  

All the recipes are based on family tradition, passed on from one generation to the next.  Many of the mouthwatering dishes are not only ones that Mr. Ghebleh has remembered from his childhood, but ones that most Persians are well acquainted with.  “Almost every single dish on the menu is the same recipe my dad’s been using whenever he cooks at home,” stated Parianna. Mr. Ghebleh said most of his Persian dishes were as popular among Iranians as spaghetti and meatballs is among Americans today.

Never had Persian or Mediterranean food before? You’re not alone.  Parianna shared that “most people are slightly apprehensive at first, and they ask a lot of questions. But most of the time, the servers can make a good recommendation that the customer will enjoy. Almost every single person I’ve ever served absolutely loved the dish they tried.”

While Mr. Ghebleh is able to use local vendors and markets to purchase the meats and fresh produce for the restaurant, the spices are a different story.  As the owner of the only Persian restaurant in Michigan, Mr. Ghebleh has to go to great lengths to locate the “spices unique to Persian cuisine,” he explained.  “I have brought most of them, such as the saffron, back from Iran,” though the rest of the spices he orders from a Persian market all the way out in California.  He also uses herbs such as parsley, dill, basil, tarragon, and fenugreek to bring out the flavors in each of his dishes.

Grand Rapidians, be thankful that you are the lucky few in the state of Michigan with easy access to delicious, well seasoned, artfully prepared Persian and Mediterranean food.  Don’t take it for granted and miss out on this delicious restaurant. If you’re ever in the mood for something different and delicious, visit Shiraz Grille, where, as their website proclaims, “you will find cultural richness intertwined with small-town ambiance.”

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.


Great article!  It's also worth noting that Ali Ghebleh, the owner of Shiraz, is a GRCC Alum.

Truly. My mouth is watering. And the responses we're getting on Twitter and Facebook about this article and Shiraz Grille are really positive. Too many good choices to pick from is the general consensus.