Restaurant With No Name

I’m not sure exactly where the place is, which makes it difficult if you want to sample the food yourself. I didn’t even get its name, if indeed it has one. I might have found one mention on the Internet, but it also gave no name.

It doesn't look like much from the outside - the building was constructed over what i believe is called Inishki Cave.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside – the building was constructed over what i believe is called Inishki Cave.

I can tell you the restaurant is about an hour’s drive, maybe a little more from Duhok, Iraq. The road signs were all in Arabic (which I neither read nor speak), so that didn’t help me at all.

From the outdoor terrace (there is more than one actually, you can see one of Saddam Hussein’s former residences, which appears to now have something to do with the military. That doesn’t narrow things down much; Saddam moved around a lot, he had 82 “palaces” in Iraq.IMG_9721

We hadn’t made a reservation, but were lucky to discover someone watering the grass when we drove up the hill. Turns out the restaurant wasn’t open. It was Monday, and, if I got the translation correctly, they are only open on Fridays. After some negotiation from our guide they agreed to cook us a meal. It probably helped that there were eleven of us and we were paying in American dollars.IMG_9713

There was more food than we could eat, this apparently is part of Iraqi hospitality. We started with a creamy chicken noodle soup that seemed to be served almost everywhere we ate in Iraq. That was followed by skewers of beef, chicken and lamb, marinated and grilled to perfection. Mounds of the local flatbread (which seemed like a cross between pita and naan) to use to grab the meat. There were also cooked onions, and fresh tomato and cucumber. The food was very tasty, but that didn’t matter because this was one of the times when location really is everything. The restaurant is located in a cave.IMG_9730

It is naturally cool, which I am sure saves a bundle on air conditioning. You can eat outdoors also, on one of the terraces that give a very nice view of the valley (and the former palace) but we chose the cave setting.

There was no menu. I don’t know if that’s because we just showed up and had to accept what was offered, or if it was like the kebab shop we went to in Erbil, which offered whatever you liked, as long as it was kebab, and only if you wanted chicken or minced lamb. Or perhaps our guide just placed the order for all of us.
I’m not sure how being open only on Fridays works as a business model, but I was well fed so I won’t complain.

I never figured out the purpose for this alcove - but it made a nice picture.

I never figured out the purpose for this alcove – but it made a nice picture.

The view from the terrace.

The view from the terrace.

I think the cave is in Enishki, or perhaps that is Inishki – transliteration from the Arabic can depend on the ears of the listener I think. I have no idea how to get there again, but I am still interested in a return trip if I am ever in the area again. I’ll make sure it is a Friday though.



  1. Francesco Davini · · Reply

    It’s easy to get there. Coming from Duhok towards Amadia, the road sides the walls of Saddam’s villa. At the end of the wall now painted with Peshmerga patriotic graffiti, turn left at the intersection. After about 1km you will spot a sign on the right that addresses to the Inishki Cave (In english too!). Just follow the secondary road that ends at the restaurant! Been there today for a chay, after a visit to the other Saddam’s villa on the top of Gara Mountain.

    1. I had never been in the area before, so I was dependent on my driver to know where we were going. Is the villa on Gara Mountain the one where there is still a minefield? I will be posting about that soon I hope.

      1. Francesco Davini · ·

        Dear Lorne, unfortunately the minefields up there are many more than one, Along the last km of road to the top, warning signs are on both sides, just out of the paved road. Moreover, all around the mountains of Kurdistan, hundreds of minefilds are still there. Some have been cleared, some simply marked, especially close to villages or in valuable agricolture areas. Most of minefields are still uncleared or not properly marked due to the high costs and lack of resources.

  2. It is very interesting to have restaurant in a cave. The view from the terrace looks amazing.

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