Best British Import 2008 | fresh & easy | Food & Drink | Phoenix

When we heard that one of our favorite bars, the legendary Chez Nous, was being knocked down to make room for a British grocery store, we were horrified. We loved Chez Nous! And who needs another market, particularly one from the culinarily challenged Brits? Well, we stand corrected. This tidily stripped-down chain now has five Phoenix locations and 14 in the 'burbs, and after hearing friends from Avondale to Scottsdale sings its praises, we went to see for ourselves and were instantly won over. Lazy cooks like us thrill to the market's "kits," which use fresh ingredients to replicate that whole Lean Cuisine meal-in-a-box experience.

And our aspiring chef friends adore the fresh fruits and veggies — bought from local growers whenever possible. So when fresh & easy finally opened its location at the site of the old Chez Nous, we came bearing ATM cards, rather than picket signs.

We'd always thought that enough aimless driving would lead us to the best shopping finds in Phoenix, but it took a good friend to clue us in to the city's finest destination for Middle Eastern food. Baiz Market is one spot we never would've stumbled upon, because it's tucked in a quiet neighborhood north of Van Buren Street. Now that we've found it, we don't know how we ever got by without this oasis of imported ingredients, from nuts and spices to more kinds of cooking oil than we knew existed. There's produce, a deli counter with olives, cheeses, and halal meats, as well as a mouthwatering display of housemade cookies and delicate Middle Eastern pastries. Besides comestibles, there's an aisle of splurge-worthy housewares, from dainty tea sets to utensils to elaborate hookahs. At the front, next to the cash registers, tiny Al-Hana Restaurant serves up just-baked pita from a wood-fired oven, grilled meats, hummus, and more. Whether we're in the mood to stock the whole pantry or just grab a quick bite, Baiz Market always hits the spot.

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