We're working up our appetites for our huge Best of Phoenix issue, out September 30, with daily servings of Chow Bella's 100 Favorite Dishes from across the Valley -- in no particular order.
Leave your suggestions for upcoming favorites in the comments section.
Visit our sister blog, Jackalope Ranch, for a companion series on 100 Creatives who make Phoenix a little more interesting for all of us. We'll be posting the next 96 picks daily through the rest of the summer.
Number 97: Shish taook from Baiz Market
Al-Hana at Baiz Market is still one of the Valley's hidden ethnic food treasures.
It probably has something to do with the restaurant being nothing more than a modest open kitchen and counter with a few tables sectioned off in the corner of a Middle Eastern grocery store -- and that grocery store being tucked into a residential neighborhood near I-10, basically nowhere you'd likely drive past.
Which is one reason I frequent this place. It's nothing flashy, just real-deal Middle Eastern food for a song. Behind the counter, you can see cooks making pita next to spits of slowly cooking shawarma slowly.
The shish taook platter is one of my old standbys, with skewers of fragrant, marinated grilled chicken that's always juicy and perfectly cooked, satisfying my primal urges and protein cravings all at once.
Two fresh-from-the-oven pita cover the entire plate when it's served, keeping the goodies warm until you tear off a piece of bread to gobble up the chicken with pickles, onion, tomato, creamy hummus, and garlic sauce. Once the pita's all gone, I usually go straight to dunking hunks of meat directly into that sauce -- heavenly.
The Favorite Dishes, so far: 98: Pasties From Cornish Pasty Co. 99: Clams in Black Bean Sauce From Asian Cafe Express 100: Bruschetta From Postino