Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

Upon approaching Lee Lee, you'd be forgiven the mistake of identifying it as a Chinese market. After all, they call themselves an "Oriental market," and just inside the door there is an entire section dedicated to Buddha statues and tables upon which to keep said statues. But a walk through the aisles reveals that it is so much more. Lee Lee circles the globe. There is an entire row dedicated to the shrimp pastes, lemon grasses, and pickled vegetables of Thailand. Middle Eastern ingredients strangely share an aisle with imports from the Netherlands; nevertheless, you'll find everything from zaatar to Persian sugar candy stuffed on the shelves. Walk down India's row and you'll taste the curry leaves and masala blends, whose fragrance cannot be contained by their flimsy plastic packaging. Continue to the back of the store to peruse a vast selection of Japanese beers and sake. And in the produce aisle, feast your eyes on Sri Lankan banana flowers, the infamous durian fruits, and Filipino plantains. This is an international market in the truest sense, with something for everyone.

Yasha From Russia

A visit to Yasha From Russia is an immersive experience, beginning with the oversize Russian nesting dolls that adorn the exterior of the building. Inside, there is a vast selection of Russian wines and beers, which are worth buying for the amazing bottles alone. There is a small section of picked, canned, jarred, and dry goods, a deli counter slinging the likes of head cheese, as well as prepared foods like a very decent borscht. They have a selection of caviar (of course), but the real highlight of the market might be the frozen section. Coolers throughout the shop hold bins and bins of homemade pelmeni dumplings stuffed with everything from mashed potatoes and onions to ground pork to sweet cheese. They are purchased by the pound and can be taken home and boiled. The staff will be happy to explain to you that when the dumpling floats, you still should leave it another few minutes in the boiling water before fishing them out and serving alongside sour cream. There is no place in Phoenix quite like this East European shop.

Asiana Market
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Asiana Market is in a class of its own. The sprawling grocery store is located in a Mesa strip mall, but once you pass through the doors, you will feel like you're in a supermarket in Seoul. From kalbi potato chips to fresh rice cakes for dubboki and specialty cuts of meat like cross-cut cow's foot, this market has every Korean staple imaginable. Shop for them to the sound of K-pop playing gently over the speakers. One of the best parts of the shop is the prepared-food counter. There, you can watch the army of Korean women frying, baking, and boiling dishes like glass noodles, mung bean pancakes, fish cakes, and Korean fried chicken. Their prepacked lunch boxes come stuffed with rice, meat, glass noodles, rice cakes, bibimbap, and a seaweed salad, and every takeaway order is given with a free bottle of water. There is nothing not to love.

Everything about Ruze Cake House is beautiful: the decor, the baked goods, even the drinks are lovely and colorful and supremely Instagrammable. But the appeal of the Old Town Scottsdale bakery goes far beyond its aesthetics. The goods here are delicious and made with the utmost care; the selection is constantly changing but can include macarons, cookies, cupcakes, sweet and savory croissants, marshmallows, pies, sweet rolls, and more. We love the macarons for ourselves, and the Arizona- and cactus-shaped cookies that come in a variety of icing designs make excellent gifts. Also, Ruze still produces the elegant custom wedding cakes that gave the company their start. And these days, the beverage menu is developing its own dedicated fan base: The bakery sells Cartel coffee along with a number of signature beverages, including a hot-pink concoction called the Ruze, which is made from prickly-pear tea, prickly-pear syrup, milk, and tapioca pearls.

Housed in a small strip mall on North Scottsdale Road, this shop is easy to miss. Once inside, you'll find ramshackle shelves stuffed with Persian, Middle Eastern, and Indian ingredients, canned goods, dried beans, and sweets, in no discernable order. There's a small produce section and a dairy fridge filled with treats like Iranian clotted cream, feta cheeses, and doogh, a salty yogurt drink in both carbonated and flat versions. But the real reason to visit this shop is the stone-oven bakery tucked in the back, just behind the register. There, a team of bakers make thin, chewy, sesame-encrusted sangak bread; delicate rounds of lavash; and thick, pillowy ovals of barberi bread. Not all the breads are available every day, or even all day, but if you call ahead, you can walk out with a stack of flatbread still hot and steaming through its paper wrapping. It is the best Persian bread in the state, and maybe even the best flatbread, period. Pick it up along with a chunk of feta and some fresh herbs or clotted cream and honey.

Jewel's Bakery & Cafe
Judy Nichols

Jewel's has long been a favorite for gluten-free fans in Phoenix, and they continue to be the best place around for fresh-baked loaves of flaxseed bread, burger buns, brownies, muffins, and all manner of typically "off-limits" carb-laden goodness. Even those who aren't gluten-free can appreciate the indulgent, super-moist salted-caramel brownies, cranberry scones, and chocolate-white chocolate chip cookies.

Treehouse Bakery

Here's what our vegan friends say about treats from Treehouse Bakery: "These are really good!" Here's what our non-vegan friends say about treats from Treehouse Bakery: "These are vegan? Wow, these are really good!" Any misconceptions you may be carrying about vegan desserts being less tasty than "regular" ones can now be left at the door. Step inside the cheerful pink-and-white storefront near Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue, and you'll see a small but enticing selection of pastries, cookies, brownies, scones, and more. We love the light, moist lemon cupcakes, the rich brownies, and the flaky house-made toaster pastries. Treehouse also does birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and large orders of cupcakes in a variety of flavors, such as red velvet, apple pie, French toast, pistachio, and peanut butter. Some can even be made gluten-free. In short, Treehouse isn't just a great vegan bakery — it's a great bakery, full stop.

Sweeties Candy of Arizona

It's a good thing Sweeties wasn't around when we were kids, because this place would have blown our minds — not to mention our pocket money and our teeth. Think of a candy you love now, or loved in your youth. Go ahead. Now go to Sweeties and see if they carry it. They will. They totally will! They've got everything — this place is a superstore specializing only in candy. Every name brand (and some you didn't know existed), every variation of it (although we hope the strawberry nut-flavored M&Ms we saw recently were an aberration and not a real thing). Taffy in pretty much every imaginable flavor, color-coded candy. Candy shaped like rocks and LEGOs. You get the idea. What are you waiting for? Go load up a cart at Sweeties. Just don't forget to brush your teeth after your visit.

By now, you've either seen it in Valley restaurants or you're already a big fan of Homeboy's Hot Sauce. Jacob Cutino launched his local hot sauce line in spring 2015, and there are currently three flavors (not counting seasonal offerings). The first two sauces were the bright-red yet mild-in-flavor jalapeno, and the golden-yellow habanero. The new guy is the green-hued verde — an incognito way to crank up the heat on guacamole, or to dress a hot dog as a substitute relish. The sauces are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and include no artificial preservatives. Find Homeboy's Hot Sauce at restaurants like Pig & Pickle, The Market by Jennifer's, and La Grande Orange, as well area markets like Uptown Farmers Market and Gilbert Farmers Market and on the YouTube sensation, Hot Ones.

SoSoBa
Lauren Cusimano

We always had heard great things about SoSoBa from our neighbors to the north (that's Flagstaffians, not Canadians), so we were stoked when we found out we were getting our very own location of the self-described "unabashedly inauthentic" Asian food joint down on Roosevelt Row. As it turns out, SoSoBa may not be authentic, but it is delicious, and the dish we keep coming back for is the General Tso's Cauliflower, which features a large pile of the veggie flash-fried with General Tso sauce, fresh Thai chilies, peanuts, garlic chips, and scallions. The cauliflower is cooked to just the right consistency, and the tangy sweetness of the sauce is bold without being overpowering. The dish is located on the shared-plates section of the menu, but if you're anything like us, you'll want to get your own and scarf down the whole thing. And since SoSoBa is open until midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, almost any time is the right time to spend a while with the General.

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