BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY STORE - 2006
Thank goodness for word of mouth, because Baiz Market ? discreetly nestled between the I-10 and a housing complex ? is not the kind of place we'd likely stumble upon. Even at that, it's not too far off the beaten path, and it's certainly worth a visit on those days when only a piping hot platter of chicken shawarma or shish kebab will satisfy our rumbling bellies. Along with speedy counter service for lunch and dinner, Baiz packs in every conceivable necessity for cooking Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. Thanks to an in-house bakery, pita and pastries here are as fresh as can be. The meat and produce selection rivals that of larger grocery stores, and when it comes to pantry basics like olive oil and olives, cheese, pickles, and nuts, well, we never knew there could be so many choices. It's also fun to browse the cooking utensil and housewares aisles, where we spotted shiny teapots, the cutest espresso cup-and-saucer sets, and quite the glitzy assortment of hookahs (right next to myriad flavored tobaccos). We'll stop here next time we need to pick up a gift, and probably treat ourselves, too.