Start your spice trail in Riverdale. The latest addition in the ‘hood!

Meet proud Owner and Head Chef of Herby, Javad Zehdifar. // FLEUR BOOMSMA

Meet proud Owner and Head Chef of Herby, Javad Zehdifar. // FLEUR BOOMSMA

From Northwestern Iranian inspired artwork to handmade local potteries, Herby invites you to dive into Iran’s homey culture full of organic and fresh homemade dishes.

Think of Herby as a big family offering you a seat at their table. You will witness the vibrant culture being expressed through the spices, food and atmosphere allowing friends and family to get together to socialize over food and reminisce over the memories made back home. Owner Javad Zehdifar expresses his generosity and shows his big heart through his customer service and desire in wanting to share his love for food with others.

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The family-run business is named after Herbi, a village known for their rose-filled fields located near Zehdifar’s hometown in Tabriz. Of course, as some of you may know, the term herby is defined as a food or drink having lots of taste and smell of herbs. It resembles the perfect representation of the Iranian kitchen cuisine.

Zehdifar has developed his love and passion for cooking at a very early age and was always aspired to open his own restaurant. Prior to opening up Herby, he owned a small take-out spot for nearly a decade. Now, years later he turned his dreams into reality and opened his door to the Riverdale and Danforth community by offering delicious dishes made with recipes passed down from his mother and grandmother.

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“The food is not just for the business,” Zehdifar says. “The food is part of our culture, it’s art. That’s why I made this a cultural and artistic space.”

The place is decorated with items and art pieces that remind him of Tabriz. It also includes photographs taken by his son-in-law, handmade pottery imported from Tabriz and a large seven-piece artwork based on an Iranian poem called “The Conference of the Birds”.

If you observe the artwork closely, you’ll find a breathtaking photograph of his niece picking roses at a farm in Herbi.

The Food

Herby does serve your all-time favourite Persian kebabs, but they are particularly known for their unique Azerbaijani style menu, which includes meals like piti and tava kebab – all well worth a try! Note that each Iranian province uses different herbs, spices and vegetables to season their dishes.

Piti is a very rich meal as it contains lamb and chickpea that is served in a traditional piti pot (handmade and imported from Tabriz), and it requires a bit of mashing using a mallet.

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The serving of their tea could personally be my favourite thing on the menu as they boil the (imported) organic tea the traditional way for several hours and serve it in the traditional Persian tea pot along with its tiny teacups and Iranian sweets.

Tava kebab is made very differently than the kebab you may purchase at your Persian take-out restaurant. Instead, it’s made in a tava (a pan) – along with its vegetables and rice or tahdig (also known as rice that has a thin crust of slightly browned rice that’s produced on the bottom of the cooking pot).

Zehdifar enjoys cooking so much that he considers all the dishes on the menu to be his kids, especially because they originate from his hometown, a place very close to his heart.

You’re in for a treat!

Herby Restaurant
397 Danforth Ave
Catering services are also available upon request.

10 Comments

  • Natalie Richardson says:

    Great post Fleur – thank you for sharing this information!

  • Dutchie says:

    Thanks for publishing such informative article, Fleur. In Europe we adore the sun and using SPF is not a very common thing. Also, I remember that in the early days, SPF didn’t go higher than 30 and we only used it while on the beach. And when someone got a sun burn, we just laughed and put slices of cucumber on it to cool it down. You are absolutely right, we need to include SPF in our daily skin routine. Now one more challenge to go: introduce this to my husband.

    • Fleur Boomsma says:

      Thank you for sharing this little story! If we can normalize the use of sunscreen a lot of skin cancer could be prevented! Luckily the skincare companies are getting more innovative with their formulas to make sunscreen attractive for everyone of all skin colors/conditions/types!

  • Eva B says:

    So informative! Thank you for the sunscreen recommendations xx

  • Jennifer says:

    Sunscreen can save your life!!

  • Sue says:

    Your hair looks lovely. I want to try this now.

  • Celine says:

    Hello! I want to ask, after using the innisfree super volcanic mask, you rinse it off and then do you apply your skincare after that? or do you just leave your bare face after rinsing the clay mask off?

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