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Taza Bakery

Taza Bakery
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  • Post #31 - February 20th, 2011, 12:47 pm
    Post #31 - February 20th, 2011, 12:47 pm Post #31 - February 20th, 2011, 12:47 pm
    Kennyz wrote:Sanabel's is intensely sour. So much so that I can't stand it. I like to taste spinach in my spinach pies. I probably like the ones people call bland. I do like Sanabel's cheese pies

    I'm with with Kennyz. I enjoy Sanabel, but their spinach pies have a harsh, vinegary tang that I find unpalatable.

    With regard to Taza's controversial shawarma, I would not call it my favorite shawarma in town -- on a good day, Salam, Larsa's, etc. can have a much better one. However, I can confidently say that Taza makes my favorite shawarma sandwich in Chicagoland. (Just keep it out of that damn press!)

    I know we have fans of knafeh here. Taza makes a version called ka'ket knafeh that I'm not sure anyone else in town makes. While it's definitely worth trying, I would warn against getting it as dessert -- it's a full meal in itself. In fact, it makes for a really tasty breakfast.
  • Post #32 - February 20th, 2011, 5:05 pm
    Post #32 - February 20th, 2011, 5:05 pm Post #32 - February 20th, 2011, 5:05 pm
    After trying their tasty zatar bread that G Wiv brought to the recent LTH Soup & Bread event, I decided to make my first visit to Taza Bakery yesterday, where I sampled a few more items . . .

    Image
    Taza Bakery - 3100 W. Devon Ave, Chicago


    Image
    Spinach Pie


    Image
    Spinach Pie
    The spinach pie had an assertively tangy and aromatic filling, which I really liked.


    Image
    Shawarma Sandwich on Samoon bread
    A decent sandwich in which the tender, slightly crispy and yeasty bread was the clear highlight. I wasn't crazy about the meat itself, which was dry or the the lettuce, which tasted like it had come right out of a bag prewashed stuff. But, the samoon was so tasty, we bought some that had just come out of the oven to take home. This morning I made a breakfast sandwich on one of the loaves and it was awesome.


    Image
    Soujouk
    I wasn't in love with this. I enjoyed the bread base but the topping just didn't do it for me. I'm not saying it had been reheated but it had that sort of flavor. I prefer versions I've had elsewhere.

    Based on what I really dig, I don't think Taza's ever going to be a hot destination for me but I liked it well enough that I plan to return and try out more of their offerings. In a few weeks, my office will be moving to just a few minutes from here and I'll definitely suggest it to my partners for our lunch rotation.

    =R=
    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #33 - February 22nd, 2011, 6:25 pm
    Post #33 - February 22nd, 2011, 6:25 pm Post #33 - February 22nd, 2011, 6:25 pm
    I took a trip to Taza over the weekend. This is exactly the type of place I read LTHForum to learn about!

    I ordered a lahmajun and a zaatar. Both were rolled out to order and baked as I watched the crust rise and blister in the oven. The lahmajun was a little under-seasoned, but nothing a spritz from a lemon couldn't rectify. The zaatar was perfect, lots of herbs and sumac flavor with enough sesame seeds to lend it depth without making it grainy.

    As I was finishing up I saw them pulling tanoor bread fresh out of the circular tandoor in the back, so I picked up a package of 4. Fresh from the oven, this bread ranks right up there with the best Middle Eastern bread I've ever had. Doughy and soft, I ate an entire loaf sitting in the parking lot, it was so good. I'd drive up to Devon just for the bread alone. I've been enjoying it all week, reminding me everyday how lucky we are to live in a city with places like Taza.
  • Post #34 - February 22nd, 2011, 7:32 pm
    Post #34 - February 22nd, 2011, 7:32 pm Post #34 - February 22nd, 2011, 7:32 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:After trying their tasty zatar bread that G Wiv brought to the recent LTH Soup & Bread event, I decided to make my first visit to Taza Bakery yesterday, where I sampled a few more items . . .

    Image
    Taza Bakery - 3100 W. Devon Ave, Chicago

    =R=

    Looks like someone splurged for a car wash! 8)
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #35 - February 22nd, 2011, 7:35 pm
    Post #35 - February 22nd, 2011, 7:35 pm Post #35 - February 22nd, 2011, 7:35 pm
    Dave148 wrote:Looks like someone splurged for a car wash! 8)

    LOL...for the sake of humanity, my filthy car is not one of those pictured! :D

    =R=
    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #36 - February 23rd, 2011, 2:35 pm
    Post #36 - February 23rd, 2011, 2:35 pm Post #36 - February 23rd, 2011, 2:35 pm
    I steered our office lunch toward Taza today just so could try it again and sample some more items with a larger group of eaters. I came away from the experience with a clearer sense that Taza is not all about the bread, it's only about the bread.

    Zaatar was utterly phenomenal. It was light, crispy, aromatic and herbaceous. Addictive, really and I've never had anything like it in Chicago. A cheese "pizza" was terrific, too. The generously applied cheese was buttery and rich. I'm also really digging their samoon. It's got a great, yeasty aroma, and a spongy, elastic texture that's very satisfying. Unfortunately, this is where my adoration of Taza comes to an abrupt halt.

    Shawarmas today -- both beef and chicken -- were dry to the point of being desiccated. Most of the order went uneaten. It didn't help matters that requested tahina sauce was nowhere to be found, as it might have provided needed lubrication. Falafel was dense, heavy and greasy. They were puck-like. We ordered a dozen, 9 remain untouched. Hummus was pasty, thick and way too tangy. There was no balance or creaminess to it at all. Baba ganoush was not appetizing, either. Spinach pie today wasn't nearly as good as the one I had on Saturday. This time around, it was seasoned differently and contained way too much cardamom, which was all I could taste. Also, many menu items were n/a today: lentil soup, veggie pie, kabob. Given that it was lunch time, this was unfortunate.

    In our office fridge, we had some hummus from Pita Inn that was leftover from last week. I grabbed it and dipped some of Taza's samoon in it -- a great combination and a highlight of the meal for me.

    =R=
    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #37 - February 23rd, 2011, 2:37 pm
    Post #37 - February 23rd, 2011, 2:37 pm Post #37 - February 23rd, 2011, 2:37 pm
    As part of its nomination for a GNR, I went to Taza Bakery for the first time today for an early (early) lunch. I had a spinach pie, a zaatar and a soujouk pie. The highlight of my lunch was the zaatar pie and what I liked the most about it is that it was made to order which, IMHO, is the only way to have a zaatar pie (which usually is eaten for breakfast). The spinach and soujouk pies were good too.

    Overall I really liked the place, bustling with energy, clean, and the service is friendly. Based on this visit, I endorse this nomination, and am already looking forward to returning. There is nothing like a fresh zaatar pie with a cup of black tea to kick start your day.
    Elie
  • Post #38 - February 26th, 2011, 3:58 pm
    Post #38 - February 26th, 2011, 3:58 pm Post #38 - February 26th, 2011, 3:58 pm
    I've been out of town for most of GNR season, so when I got home last night, I had a long queue of places I wanted to check out. Since I was going to have a ZipCar anyway and needed to go to Albany Park, Taza seemed like a perfect fit.

    Although they were cranking out tandoor bread at a steady clip, when I placed my order and asked for samoon and tandoor bread, I was told that they were too busy fulfilling an order for 100 bags of bread for a special order. Luckily they had samoon set aside for shawarma sandwiches, so I ordered one of those, two of the zataar bread and two vegetable pies (they were out of spinach pies).

    The shawarma was, as described upthread, not good. Dry meat, horrible winter tomatoes, too much shredded lettuce, and not enough flavor. The zataar bread was good, with a pronounced tang from the sumac, and who doesn't love bread fresh out of the oven? I liked the filling of the veggie pie (eggplant?) but though the bread was a bit flat on flavor.

    As a comparison, I then drove to Sanabel, which has been my go-to Middle Eastern bakery. The zataar bread at Sanabel is reheated, not cooked to order, but is in all other ways far better. Crisper exterior, chewier interior, more developed bread flavor. The zataar on the Taza bread had more of a sumac tang (which I prefer), but otherwise Sanabel's zataar bread was a clear winner. The spinach pies at Sanabel were, as always, really good, but Taza was out so not direct comparison was possible.

    I enjoyed Taza, but given a direct comparison against another Middle Eastern bakery in the same geographic area, I can't see awarding them a GNR. Their much-lauded zataar bread is good, but I'd encourage supporters to do a back-to-back comparison and reconsider their support.

    -Dan

    edited to correct spelling
    Last edited by dansch on February 26th, 2011, 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #39 - February 26th, 2011, 5:05 pm
    Post #39 - February 26th, 2011, 5:05 pm Post #39 - February 26th, 2011, 5:05 pm
    dansch wrote:I enjoyed Taza, but given a direct comparison against another Middle Eastern bakery in the same geographic area, I can't see awarding them a GNR. Their much-lauded zataar bread is good, but I'd encourage supporters to do a back-to-back comparison and reconsider their support.


    When I tasted Taza's zataar for the first time last week, I liked it quite a bit. But after tasting it side by side against Sanabel's, it came up significantly short. The spicing on Taza's was more robust, but as for the bread itself, Sanabel's had far superior texture and better developed flavor.

    Taza is good and the GNR's are not a zero sum game. But to me it feels wrong to point people to what I think might be the inferior of two bakeries doing very similar things in the same basic geographic area.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #40 - February 26th, 2011, 5:50 pm
    Post #40 - February 26th, 2011, 5:50 pm Post #40 - February 26th, 2011, 5:50 pm
    Kennyz wrote:Taza is good and the GNR's are not a zero sum game. But to me it feels wrong to point people to what I think might be the inferior of two bakeries doing very similar things in the same basic geographic area.
    I've had and enjoyed Sanabel's zatar bread any number of times and prefer Taza Bakery, I am a fan of Taza's bread, stronger sumac tang and sesame to herb ratio. I also like Eastern Breadstone Bakery zatar bread, smaller diameter with a distinct olive oil flavor and crisp, though lighter on sumac twang. If forced to rank the three zatar breads Taza, Eastern and Sanabel, in that order. Subject to change due to whim, wind and wine.

    My current preference for Taza zatar bread would in no way lead me to suggest the other two geographically close quality bakeries are not suited for a GNR, that is if someone had nominated them.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Eastern Breadstone Bakery
    2818 W. Devon
    Chicago, IL 60645
    773-338-9969

    Sanabel Bakery
    4253 North Kedzie
    Chicago 60618
    773-539-5409
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #41 - February 27th, 2011, 12:34 pm
    Post #41 - February 27th, 2011, 12:34 pm Post #41 - February 27th, 2011, 12:34 pm
    dansch wrote:I enjoyed Taza, but given a direct comparison against another Middle Eastern bakery in the same geographic area, I can't see awarding them a GNR. Their much-lauded zataar bread is good, but I'd encourage supporters to do a back-to-back comparison and reconsider their support.


    Dan, with all due respect, I don't think back-to-back comparisons to Sanabel are relevant. I know that GNR precedent and history has taken a beating here lately, but it has long not been the goal of the GNRs to periodically crown what it considers to be the "best" of type. So, the results of back-to-back tasteoffs between Sanabel aren't relevant, and shouldn't be considered, according to the GNR rules.

    But I have had Sanabel's bread, and I prefer Taza's. Sanabel is good, but the spinach samoon unpleasantly acidic, I wouldn't buy it again. (I prefer Taza's subtler, defter seasoning.) Sanabel is fine, and I wouldn't oppose it for a GNR, but any comparisons to Sanabel (good or bad) should not prevent this place from getting a GNR. If we have can have multiple Thai GNRs, then I don't understand the logic in dinging the first Middle Eastern bakery to be nominated, solely because there's another place that some people prefer. (I mean, I don't see the discussion as to whether Aroy is the "best" Thai place, better than Elephant, Sticky, Spoon, and TAC, such that their GNRs should be stripped.)

    But taking a moment to consider all this discussion on a broader level - the vocal opposition to Taza really confuses me. Of all the GNR nominations this season, this one seems seems least offensive. But, hey, if everyone wants to beat on places like Taza, because it may or may not be as good as Sanabel, and have a list that directs people to places they read about on TOC in 2009, I'll fully embrace my seat in the minority party.
  • Post #42 - February 27th, 2011, 1:10 pm
    Post #42 - February 27th, 2011, 1:10 pm Post #42 - February 27th, 2011, 1:10 pm
    The goal is to award places that the lthforum consensus says are great. If Dan, I, and others think Taza is less than great - whether because of a comparison to something we like better or because of some heueristic evaluation - of course that's relevant. In fact, if you believe dicksond our opinion counts the same even if we just write "been to taza a number of times and don't think it's great," skipping altogether any description of why we feel that way.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #43 - February 27th, 2011, 1:27 pm
    Post #43 - February 27th, 2011, 1:27 pm Post #43 - February 27th, 2011, 1:27 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Dan, with all due respect, I don't think back-to-back comparisons to Sanabel are relevant. I know that GNR precedent and history has taken a beating here lately, but it has long not been the goal of the GNRs to periodically crown what it considers to be the "best" of type. So, the results of back-to-back tasteoffs between Sanabel aren't relevant, and shouldn't be considered, according to the GNR rules.
    If Sanabel were already a GNR and Taza came up for nomination, I would probably take the "GNRs are not a zero sum game" approach and at a minimum stay quiet on the nomination. Given that this will be the only Middle Eastern bakery on the list, I think it's completely relevant whether or not it's the best of its class in that area. Assuming for a moment that both were nominated, why would you want the second-best to be awarded?

    As mentioned in my original post, I haven't tried all of their products, and I've only been once, so I offer my data point for what it is - by no means authoritative, but most definitely relevant.

    -Dan
  • Post #44 - February 27th, 2011, 1:33 pm
    Post #44 - February 27th, 2011, 1:33 pm Post #44 - February 27th, 2011, 1:33 pm
    I haven't had the non-bread baked goods at Sanabel. Suffice to say I am not impressed with their Arabic breads. Not in the same league as Taza and Eastern Breadstone.

    I'm surprised by the the numerous reports of how bad Taza's shawerma is. I have not eaten at Taza in months (I no longer live in Chicago); and to be honest, when I make it home for a weekend, Taza is not on my list of "must-visit" restaurants, though I do miss it greatly. This has to do more with the fact that I always end up staying far away from W. Rogers Park and without a car. Also, I eat out in NYC enough. When I go home, I tend to cook and eat at home.

    Would I recommend Taza to out-of-town visitors? Probably not. They should go to Purple Pig or Avec or whatever the "Two kinds of PORK in one dish??!!!" hotspot of the day is. They shouldn't be wasting their time with quirky holes-in-the-wall that really only do a few things well; places like Taza, Tierra Caliente, or even Tac Quick (their non-"Thai" menu offerings, curries, stir-fry noodles etc., do not rise above your average neighborhood Thai joint. Last time I was in Southeast Asia, those things were Thai food too). I still think all of those places are GNRs.

    I submit that with all of the back and forth about Taza, it seems unlikely to acheive GNR status. No problem. I just hope that if this is the case, it is not because Taza is not the Publican, Avec or even the old Mado, but because Sanabel and Eastern Breadstone are genuinely better places to get Arabic baked goods.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #45 - February 27th, 2011, 5:33 pm
    Post #45 - February 27th, 2011, 5:33 pm Post #45 - February 27th, 2011, 5:33 pm
    Fellow LTHers,
    I went again to Taza Bakery on Friday around 630pm and was hoping to pick up dinner to take home. I ordered an assortment of baked goods: zaatar, cheese, lahmbajeen, shawarma, and hummus. Again, the pies did not disappoint: the zaatar was wonderful, the cheese and meat pies very good. I did not find the shawarma offensive in the least. It was just ok, and for a bakery, I would not hold it against them. I have not been to Sanabel before, and do not typically order shawarma at Arab restaurants here (I make my own) so I could not really compare (I wonder why they even bother having shawarma...) But, as far as GNRs, I have been to many many of the restaurants on the list, and I think Taza would be a worthy addition. I support this nomination: Feel good place, beautiful bread, and a go-to destination for freshly baked zaatar and meat pies.
    Elie
  • Post #46 - March 5th, 2011, 2:40 pm
    Post #46 - March 5th, 2011, 2:40 pm Post #46 - March 5th, 2011, 2:40 pm
    Sanabel has been my go to for Middle Eastern groceries since they moved into their new space. I like everything about the place. Clean, organized, good selection, good prices. I make it out once or twice a month and I never leave disappointed. In particular I absolutely love their pita bread. I've never been there when I couldn't find a package of pita that was still warm from the oven. I've made many trips just to pick up their pita bread, it's been my absolute go to for Middle Eastern bread.

    And yet, I'd never tried the zaatar or lahmajun from Sanabel before this morning. Every time I stop in, I check all the baked goods to see what is fresh. I always find fresh pita, I usually find fresh spinach pies, but I have never found fresh zaatar or lahmajun. This morning was no exception. The zaatar and lahmacun were sitting on the counter, obviously at least a day old. The lahmajun's bread was soggy and I wonder if the meat was sitting out unrefrigerated over night. The zaatar looked very greasy and the bread was tough.

    The store owner, who is always very helpful, stopped by to ask me what I was looking for. I asked if they could make me a fresh lahmajun and zaatar, and she nodded and directed the man by the oven to make them for me. He walked to the back to grab some dough balls and passed them through the machine that rolls them out. Then, to my surprise, he walked back to the counter, opened the packages of lahmajun and zaatar I was inspecting earlier, and threw a couple in the oven. I asked if he could make me fresh ones and he responded that the ones in the bag were fresh.

    Of course the product left much to be desired. Tough doesn't even begin to describe the zaatar. I was like a dog chewing on a bone. Similarly, as expected, the lahmajun was soggy and sad. The seasonings on top of both were actually pretty good, but it's hard to gauge the total product since the bread underneath was obviously stale.

    Now I've only been to Taza once. But on that trip there was no question that they make their zaatar and lahmajuns by hand (as opposed to by machine at Sanabel) and to order. I thought the zaatar was great and the lahmajun could've used more seasoning, but was still a high quality example. Also the tanoor bread was constantly coming fresh out of the oven.

    Based on these experiences I view Taza and Sanabel in pretty different ways. Sanabel specializes in pita, and I can consistently get it fresh there, but the other items aren't their focus. I'm sure if I made it a point to get there when the zaatars are coming fresh out of the oven they probably have a pretty good product, but I've never had such luck. Taza, on the other hand, lacks the impressive grocery store, but it specializes in made to order baked goods. I'll still go to Sanabel more often because of their grocery offerings, but for zaatar, Taza is where I'm headed.
  • Post #47 - March 6th, 2011, 9:42 am
    Post #47 - March 6th, 2011, 9:42 am Post #47 - March 6th, 2011, 9:42 am
    dansch wrote:but I'd encourage supporters to do a back-to-back comparison and reconsider their support.
    And so I did, four Middle Eastern bakeries back to back.

    Al Khayyam Bakery Zatar Bread
    - Bread thin, dense, doughy, lifeless
    - Negligible sumac twang, dull flavored herb blend
    - Finely ground powdery herb blend, scant sesame seed
    - Held packs of two in plastic. No offer of reheating.

    Sanabel Zatar Bread
    - Bread doughy, but cooked through
    - Light sumac twang, good herbal flavor.
    - Medium herb grind, moderate well defined sesame seed ratio
    - Premade, reheated

    Eastern Breadstone Bakery Zatar Bread
    - Crisp well cooked bread, light oven char, very tasty.
    - Light sumac twang, flavorful herb blend
    - Medium ground herb blend, light well defined sesame seed ratio
    - Distinct olive oil flavor
    - Held, but product turns fast. Will offer to reheat

    Taza Bakery Zatar Bread
    - Crisp well cooked bread, light oven char, very tasty
    - Distinct flavorful sumac twang, flavorful herb blend
    - Tasty mouth pleasing granular herb blend, light well defined sesame seed ratio
    - Distinct olive oil flavor
    - Made to order each time I've been.

    If forced to rank my Zatar bread roundup Taza in the lead due to more granular zatar and distinct sumac twang, Eastern Breadstone right behind, Sanabel third and Al Khayyam Bakery a distant fourth

    My current preference for Taza zatar bread would in no way lead me to suggest Sanabel or Eastern Breadstone would not be suited for a GNR.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #48 - March 6th, 2011, 10:45 am
    Post #48 - March 6th, 2011, 10:45 am Post #48 - March 6th, 2011, 10:45 am
    Another visit to Taza Yesterday confirmed my vote for its inclusion in the GNR list. The Lahembajin ( meat and cheese) was perfectly baked, and the balance between the nicely minced and sensibly spiced, herbed and onioned meat and the softness of the not overpowering cheese was perfect. The Soujouk was very aromatic and definitly spicy enough. Once again the dough had just been rolled and baking process was precisely timed.
    The Zaatar was the best I ever had and there was no trace of an overpouring of oregano that unbalanced the taste of the one I had last time. The chicken pie is still a nice apetizer. But I have one minor complaint: The Hummus is too mild and the tahini does not provide the supporting role it should.
  • Post #49 - March 6th, 2011, 11:31 am
    Post #49 - March 6th, 2011, 11:31 am Post #49 - March 6th, 2011, 11:31 am
    G Wiv wrote: distinct sumac twang

    A great name for a rock band. :D
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #50 - March 7th, 2011, 10:37 pm
    Post #50 - March 7th, 2011, 10:37 pm Post #50 - March 7th, 2011, 10:37 pm
    My first taste of Taza's tandoor bread was a blissful moment. After many years of searching, I was finally tasting a proper doughy, salty, crisp naan, straight from the tandoor. This tandoori bread was so superior to the garlic or butter naans commonly seen in Indian or Pakistani restaurants that I was excited to return and taste their other offerings.

    On my second visit i tasted the zatar bread, spinach, vegetable and chicken pies. I appreciated that the zatar bread was made and cooked to order. The bread was crisp and flavorful and the zatar coating did not overwhelm the bread base. The pies were warmed in the oven before they were served. They pies tasted fine, but i did not find anything distinctive about them. I did not try the schwarma so i can't comment on that particular item.

    There is a lot to like about this bakery and, as stated earlier, i find their tandoor bread to be an outstanding item that I am happy to fight through Devon traffic to purchase. Unfortunately, I did not find the other items I tasted to be in the same class as this bread and find it hard to support a GNR nomination on the strength of a single item.
    Jyoti
    A meal, with bread and wine, shared with friends and family is among the most essential and important of all human rituals.
    Ruhlman
  • Post #51 - March 9th, 2011, 1:24 pm
    Post #51 - March 9th, 2011, 1:24 pm Post #51 - March 9th, 2011, 1:24 pm
    jygach wrote:There is a lot to like about this bakery and, as stated earlier, i find their tandoor bread to be an outstanding item that I am happy to fight through Devon traffic to purchase. Unfortunately, I did not find the other items I tasted to be in the same class as this bread and find it hard to support a GNR nomination on the strength of a single item.


    This is kind of where I fall on the Taza-GNR-nomination-scale as well.

    Their tandoor bread *was* terrific the last time I tried it.. and their zaatar is very good as well. But nothing else really stands out all that much to me - the chicken pie I didnt care much for, the cheese pies etc are fine, Iam not a spinach fan in general. Ive been a frequent customer at Sanabel in the past, and dont find too much staggeringly different about Taza.

    Maybe my standards are "off".. but I like GNR's to be *special*, places youd actually drive to sometimes, definitely places youd make a big priority when anywhere nearby. Katy's, Uncle John's etc are prime examples - a *long* way from me (30+ miles one-way), but places I make the trek to especially for what they have to offer.

    Sanabel and Taza are 3.3 miles apart. When Iam on Devon, I often drop into Taza.. but if Iam on Lawrence, say, I will just as often will go to Sanabel instead. Heck, even while on Devon itself (ie "the neighborhood"), there are several other places I frequent more than Taza.. Khan's, Usmaniya etc (admittedly for an entirely different type of cuisine). Even while driving down Devon towards Mccormick.. Georgian Bakery will often see my business as often as Taza might (Georgian Bakery, similarl to Taza, does one thing far better than anyone else.. and their khachapuri, in an apples to oranges comparisoin, might often win out over the zaatar IMHO!)

    c8w
  • Post #52 - March 24th, 2011, 8:18 pm
    Post #52 - March 24th, 2011, 8:18 pm Post #52 - March 24th, 2011, 8:18 pm
    c8w wrote:Georgian Bakery will often see my business as often as Taza might (Georgian Bakery, similarl to Taza, does one thing far better than anyone else.. and their khachapuri, in an apples to oranges comparisoin, might often win out over the zaatar IMHO!)
    Shower of pastry flakes on the shirt, thin strand of cheese hanging from my beard, slightly oily fingers from rich melty gooey cheese, khachapuri, one of the better two buck snacks in Chicagoland.

    Georgian Bakery khachapuri and Taza zatar are, as you say, apples to oranges, and if I was forced to choose it would be Taza zatar, happily no such choice necessary.
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #53 - April 14th, 2011, 7:09 pm
    Post #53 - April 14th, 2011, 7:09 pm Post #53 - April 14th, 2011, 7:09 pm
    Taza is now open till 9 (except Sundays, when it closes at 6).
  • Post #54 - May 17th, 2011, 11:26 pm
    Post #54 - May 17th, 2011, 11:26 pm Post #54 - May 17th, 2011, 11:26 pm
    OK, maybe I didn't fly 800 miles just to go to Taza, but on a recent trip to Chicago, Taza was on the top of my short list of places to get a quick lunch. On Monday, I paid a visit. The parking lot was occupied (kinda like parts of the Middle East, ha ha, I make it the joke!) by a large truck unloading what the proprietor told me was a "10-ton air conditioner". He was very proud of the fact that it would keep the place cool during the summer.

    I ordered a sojouk and za'atar with a fresh orange juice on the side. The sojouk was as good as ever - course ground meat on a crispy disc with a strong blast of spice. The bread reminded me more of Chicago thin crust than anything - shattering as I folded and crunched it beneath my teeth. This is definitely a different dough that what is used for the flat (tannoor) bread. Za'atar was similarly textured, though I thought the herb mix could have used a little more twang.

    I also took a bag of tannoor bread to go - $2.00. I'm still enjoying ripping off pieces and heating them on the stove, sopping up olive oil and olive brine. There simply is no Arabic bread this good in New York.

    Taza Bakery - a BMGNRBNGNR (better than many GNRs but not a GNR).
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #55 - May 18th, 2011, 8:34 am
    Post #55 - May 18th, 2011, 8:34 am Post #55 - May 18th, 2011, 8:34 am
    FYI, their breads are now sold at Marketplace on Oakton. When I've been there on Saturday mornings, the bread is still warm from the oven.
  • Post #56 - May 18th, 2011, 8:39 am
    Post #56 - May 18th, 2011, 8:39 am Post #56 - May 18th, 2011, 8:39 am
    Habibi wrote:I ordered a sojouk and za'atar with a fresh orange juice on the side. The sojouk was as good as ever - course ground meat on a crispy disc with a strong blast of spice.
    I probably have sojouk and zatar bread with tea for snack/breakfast or pick me up at Taza once, maybe twice, a week. Taza has a special of tea with zatar bread for $1.99, hard to beat that delicious deal.
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #57 - August 25th, 2011, 12:31 pm
    Post #57 - August 25th, 2011, 12:31 pm Post #57 - August 25th, 2011, 12:31 pm
    I made a trip out to Taza last weekend to pick up some zaatar bread, made to order as always. I can now confidently say this is the best zaatar I've ever had, edging out the bakeries in Dearborn, Michigan that I frequently visited in my youth.

    As we were waiting for them to make the zaatar, the owner asked us if we had tried their shawarma. As he was asking, I noticed thin layers of meat being stacked on a vertical spit in the back, so I asked if the shawarma was made it house. The owner smiled proudly and said, of course, everything we serve is made fresh (I believe taza means fresh in Arabic). He ordered someone to prepare us a sample plate of chicken and beef shawarma to be served with a side of tanoor bread. The small bites of shawarma we tasted were outstanding, plenty of crispy edges, good spice balance, not too fatty. Not sure if we got a little extra TLC since the owner was showing off his product, but this was some top notch shawarma that I'd go out of my way to get again.

    Taza is quickly becoming one of my favorites spots in the city. It's one of those places I struggle to drive by without stopping in.
    Last edited by turkob on March 4th, 2012, 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #58 - March 4th, 2012, 11:37 pm
    Post #58 - March 4th, 2012, 11:37 pm Post #58 - March 4th, 2012, 11:37 pm
    Dunno about anyone else, but this place is still doing it for me.

    The other reason for bumping this is to note that starting this week, they are now open until 2 AM most nights.
  • Post #59 - March 26th, 2012, 8:25 am
    Post #59 - March 26th, 2012, 8:25 am Post #59 - March 26th, 2012, 8:25 am
    cilantro wrote:Dunno about anyone else, but this place is still doing it for me.


    Couldn't agree more. The shawarma is in the running for the best I've ever head. Lots of crispy bits, an excellent spice profile, and it's consistently moist and delicious. I wonder if they've upgraded their product since all the mixed reviews on the shawarma at the beginning of the thread. For me this is destination shawarma, by far the best I've had in Chicagoland. The only thing it's missing is a proper toum. The garlic sauce they're serving is essentially flavorless. But they make up for it with their fantastic samoun bread.
    Last edited by turkob on March 26th, 2012, 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #60 - March 26th, 2012, 8:44 am
    Post #60 - March 26th, 2012, 8:44 am Post #60 - March 26th, 2012, 8:44 am
    cilantro wrote:Dunno about anyone else, but this place is still doing it for me.
    Same for me, I'm there once every week or two for tea, zaartar and the occasional soujouk. Drizzle of olive oil, shake of red pepper powder and I'm a happy man.
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow

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