When it comes to hidden gems, Alzohour Market is about as good as it gets. Located just west of the I-17 off Northern, this Middle Eastern and Moroccan grocery/clothing store greets customers with a a few rows of shelves stocked rather haphazardly with chocolates, canned goods, and spices. And if that was all there was then this place would be nothing special. But off to the left side of the market, there's a small room separated by a short half wall where you can sit down and enjoy a meal of made-to-order Moroccan eats including chicken and lamb tangine and couscous.
Owner Zhor Saad will probably be the only one working the restaurant so be patient when it comes to the service. Saad does everything from greeting customers to cooking the food and delivering it a smile to your table. You'll want to start your meal with a cup, or maybe even a pot, of the hot mint tea, which she pours dramatically from the pot to your cup about a foot below.
Along with the mint tea we suggest ordering one of the restaurant's appetizers as the main entrees can take a while to come out of the kitchen. The creamy Lebne dip, made with yogurt, olive oil, dry mint, garlic, and spices isn't a bad way to start. But the better choice is to order the falafel, which comes with eight doughnut-shaped pieces for $6.99. Saad makes them with a smooth and flavorful mixture of ground garbanzo beans with parsley, onions, cilantro, and garlic. Combined with the cool tzatziki sauce they make a great, but filling appetizer.
Then onto the bastilla.
Bastilla, which can also be spelled "pastilla" or "b'stilla," is a Moroccan dish that traditionally features pigeon meat made into a sweet and savory pie. At Alzohour and most other restaurants these days the meat pie is made with shredded chicken.It's listed on the menu as an entree but is easily big enough to share or even split between a group as an appetizer so do as you see best.
Saad will deliver the dish to your table on an ornate and colorful dish along with a large knife. The homemade phyllo dough pie comes covered in a generous dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar. They provide a sweet balance to the pie's salty filling of chicken, almonds, and spices. The smell alone was enough to make our mouths water, but the flavors of crisp, buttery phllyo dough mixed with the spiced chicken made for a truly unique dining experience.
The entree will set you back a substantial $20 but the serving size is easily enough to justify the price. Oh and on your way out be sure to stop by the pastry case too, where you'll find trays of handmade baklava and other desserts.
Alzohour Market 7814 N 27th Ave., Phoenix 602-433-5191
Mon. - Sat.: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sun.: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.