I love ethnic food, especially the Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern and Mexican variety. As such, I often frequent ethnic food markets to find things you couldn’t in your run-of-the-mill grocery store. Below are my 7 favorite ethnic markets in Phoenix. And when I say Phoenix, I mean Phoenix proper and not suburbs like Chandler or Glendale, as there are so many wonderful ethnic markets in those areas that I’m not even aware of!
7. Middle Eastern Bakery 3052 N 16th St Phoenix, AZ 85016 – Middle Eastern
I frequented the Middle Eastern Bakery a lot while renovating 3 Palms, because it was in the neighborhood. Mostly, I went to grab lunch in their excellent restaurant, but I always browsed the market for tahini, olive oil, and grape leaves. The Middle Eastern Bakery is the best place to get wonderful house-made pita bread, available in white and wheat. It is also the best place to get Middle Eastern desserts. To top it off, the owner, Esam Saed, who is always at the register, is the nicest person on the planet and infuses the shopping and dining experience at the market with lots of joy.
6. New India Bazaar 2544 N 7th St Phoenix, AZ 85006 – Indian
My mother and sister who live in Chandler can pick from about a dozen Indian markets in their area, but I’m afraid there is a dirth in Central Phoenix. Thank goodness for New India Bazaar on 7th Street just south of Virginia, which is my go-to place when I need to restock the cumin, coriander, red chili powder or turmeric in my spice wheel or when I run out of chapati. Though not as well-stocked as India Plaza in Tempe, New India Bazaar has everything I need for my daily Indian needs, such as rice (both white and brown), spices, snacks, and frozen chapati or naan. You can also get yummy Indian sweets such as burfi, jilebi, and ladoo. Plus, New India Bazaar has a decent restaurant with a cheap and yummy lunch buffet. My favorite snacky food (or chaat food) that I regularly get is the samosa chaat, which is excellent there.
5. Super L Ranch Market (at the Chinese Cultural Center) 668 N 44th St Phoenix, AZ 85008 – Asian
The first time I went to the Ranch Market at the Chinese Cultural Center, I was shocked by the different kinds of exotic seafood and other delicacies you could never find anywhere else. This place is a one-stop-shop for all your Asian grocery needs. The more exotic, the bigger the chance you will find it at the Super L Ranch Market. A fringe benefit of driving over there is experiencing the rest of the Chinese Cultural Center where you’ll find some of the best Chinese food in the city.
4. Phoenix Ranch Market III (on Roosevelt & 16th Street) 1602 E Roosevelt St Phoenix, AZ 85006 – Mexican
Going to the Phoenix Ranch Market on Roosevelt and 16th Street is like going to Mexico. Much of the staff speaks only Spanish and gives customers a good chance to practice any Spanish they know. I love going to this Ranch Market to buy chilis of all varieties like Ancho, Anaheim, Chipotle, Jalapeño, Serrano. Also, you can find really good prices on the produce, for example, you can often buy a pound of yellow onions for a buck. Plus, they have an amazing Mexican food cafeteria with bench seating under colorful streamers. Do not go to this Ranch Market if you want a quiet shopping experience, because this place is always bustling and loud and you are liable to run into a mariachi band somewhere along the way. Don’t forget to get a rotisserie or grilled chicken for later, which they sell outside. Plus, if you’re looking for Mexican baked goods, this is your place! And, they have a great mexican drinks kiosk where you can get horchatas, guava juice and other agua frescas.
3. ZamZam World Foods 1638 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008 – Indian/Pakistani
When my sister told me that you can get fresh naan at this market, I was there in a jiffy. I went to their counter, ordered a about five naan for a dinner party at my house and watched as they baked them in front of me. They wrapped them in foil and I took them home, where they were a big hit! ZamZam has another location in Chandler, on Galveston and Arizona Avenue. Here I found really great frozen Indian snacks such as chapli kababs, chicken samosas, chicken tikka rolls and really crazy fusion foods like pizza samosas. Recently, the excellent Afghani/Pakistani restaurant Khyber Halal moved to ZamZam, so you can grab a delicious lunch or dinner after shopping at the market.
2. Oriental Market Tan Phat 1702 W Camelback Rd Ste 5 Phoenix, AZ 85013 – Vietnamese
I discovered Tan Phat last year on Christmas Day when every other grocery store was closed. I needed some spinach for the chana masala I was making for a lunch feast at my mom’s house later that day, but every grocery store I tried was closed. I was so grateful when I saw Tan Phat open for business. To tell you the truth, I have only explored the produce section of Tan Phat so far, as well as their red chili sauce section, and I’ve been really impressed by both. You can find really esoteric produce at this market, most of which I don’t even know the name of. In fact, much of the produce is not labeled, so you have to be pretty good at knowing what your vegetables are and be able to differentiate between various types of greens on sight alone. The staff at this market tries to be helpful, but language is a barrier, so your shopping experience promises to be an adventure. But all of this mystery and intrigue is worth it for the finds and bargains. For example, you can stock up on weird ingredients like fresh okra, fresh peeled garlic, and Vietnamese spinach there.
1. Baiz Market 523 North 20th Street, Phoenix, AZ – Middle Eastern
Baiz Market is my very favorite ethnic market in the city. It’s huge for an ethnic market and you can get all your Middle Eastern grocery needs met there and more. They have a great butchery in the back with good looking butchers who will cut your lamb shank or chicken breast to order. It helps if you speak Arabic, because you will get quicker and friendlier service, I’ve noticed. I don’t speak Arabic, so I have to wait and sometimes get brusque service. Nonetheless, it’s worth it because you can get really great lamb meat, goat meat, marinaded chicken, and pretty much anything you can think of there. Baiz is a Muslim market, so they do not sell pork. It is a great place to get high-quality olive oil at a cheap price, and if you’re looking for different types of eggplant, look no further because I believe they have every kind there is. Baiz also has a little restaurant where they sell really good pita sandwiches and meat and spinach pies. I also go to Baiz for good loose leaf black and green teas.
Tags: asian markets, baiz market, ethnic food stores, indian markets, mexican markets, middle eastern bakery, middle eastern markets, new india bazaar, oriental market tan phat, phoenix, phoenix ranch market III, super l ranch market, zamzam world foods