Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Baiz Market - Phoenix

This past Friday I met a couple of my fellow Chowhounders, Winedubar and AZHotdish, at the restaurant inside Baiz Market on 20th Street between Roosevelt and Washington for lunch. Baiz is a fairly huge Middle Eastern grocery store. If you ever need a 40-lb bucket of tahini or a 2-gallon bucket of nutmeg, this is the place to find it. The whole place smells like Middle Eastern spices, so you get hungry just walking around. This is good, since the front corner is occupied by the restaurant. I forget it's name, but it sells a wide variety of foods, many of which I'd never heard of.

After looking at the large display case full of meat pies and other items, I decided to get a small hummus and a chicken schwarma. AZHotdish got a small meat pie and I believe a lamb schwarma. Winedubar got a chicken taook (?) platter. Drinks are of the bottled variety from a small stand-up cooler near the counter. We all got sodas of various varieties.

It's a counter-service place, so they randomly yell out the name of whatever item is ready and you walk up and take it if it's yours. First up was my small hummus. Small being relative I guess, as a large amount of hummus was in a large, shallow bowl. Several pitas were wrapped up below it. The hummus had a liberal drizzling of olive oil on it. My first taste was without the olive oil and didn't do much for me. AZHotdish said it tasted like too much tahini. Upon mixing some hummus with the oil, it really brought out the flavor. The pitas are baked on-site and are about the thickness of a tortilla. They are somewhat chewy, but good. I found that mixing the olive oil with the hummus that I brought home was the way to eat it.

The chicken schwarma was excellent. It came with sliced pickles, diced tomatoes, spices, and a sauce, all very tightly rolled in one of the pitas. The chicken was grilled and you could taste it. The spices are spot-on. I loved it.

Both Winedubar (who'd been there before) and AZHotdish really enjoyed their meals as well. His schwarma looked identical to mine. Her platter held enough food for a small army. She also got some sort of a cheese dessert whose name escapes me. I tried some and it wasn't for me.

Overall, I really liked Baiz and look forward to eating there and shopping there in the future. The menu held lots of items that interested me, and the prices are very low. The schwarma are only $3.99 and my small hummus was about $2.99. It doesn't look like much and the neighborhood is airport-adjacent at it's finest, but the food is worth the trip. It's just off the I10 at the Washington/Jefferson exit, so if you are heading someplace and are driving by, definitely give it a try.

I brought Tara to Baiz late Saturday afternoon to show her around. She liked the place as well, but we didn't get any food. She thought it smelled great as well, so we'll probably head there for lunch some weekend. It's the best Middle Eastern market I've been to, but that's not exactly a large number. If you are looking for olive oil or any type of Middle Eastern spices, this is the place to get it.

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