Madison not only has an abundance of so-called “ethnic eateries” — a term usually reserved for food most undergraduates didn’t know existed before they came here — but at least half those restaurants focus on Mediterranean or central Asian cuisine. So, for one restaurant to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the lamb and hummus crowd is truly a feat indeed. Plaudits go to Kabul for beating out its challenging competitors at Husnus, Buraka (not the same region, but just next door and just as delicious) and the more exotic fare provided by a city with more restaurants than conservatives. While State Street’s culinary diversity makes the average gastronomic explorer weep with joy, Kabul itself offers the average Joe a rich bounty of new flavors with exactly what any American craves — hearty portions of well-cooked meat. Yes, Kabul offers delicious appetizers with its pita dips and cucumber-based dressing for salads, but any novices to the wonders of Middle Eastern flavors should have no fear diving headfirst into lamb and pork kabobs with saffron rice. The chutneys and more challenging dishes can come with time, but for those looking for a belly-filling meal made with sophisticated spices, a few good wines and the right ambience for a more casual date, Kabul is the perfect gateway for those overwhelmed by the vast cultural landscape yet to explore.