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Taza Bakery
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  • Taza Bakery

    Post #1 - June 28th, 2010, 12:46 pm
    Post #1 - June 28th, 2010, 12:46 pm Post #1 - June 28th, 2010, 12:46 pm
    Creeping along at a snail's pace along Devon earlier today, my stomach started to grumble. My eye caught this spot in a desolate L-shaped mall. Sign in the window indicated a shawarma lunch special - sandwich + drink for $4.95 - a bargain.

    Pulled in to give it a try. The sandwich was made with Iraqi Samoon bread. Normally, they use pita. The bread was baked to order and quite tasty. However, the meat was a bit on the dry side. I'm not sure what was missing.

    As a spinach addict, I couldn't resist a spinach pie - $.89 for a decent sized triangle pie. It was quite tasty.

    A bright airy spot with about a dozen tables and a cooler of assorted soft drinks. They have juices made to order. Ironically, they had Univision playing on the flat screen TV. Not a bad spot on the eclectic food strip of Devon Ave.

    Taza Bakery
    3100 West Devon Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60659-1408
    (773) 942-7541
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #2 - July 6th, 2010, 8:13 pm
    Post #2 - July 6th, 2010, 8:13 pm Post #2 - July 6th, 2010, 8:13 pm
    Stopped by here on my way back from my first trip to City Fresh on Kedzie and Devon (what a grocery store - simply awesome). I was looking for tandoor or samoon bread, but it being 8pm, they were all out. I noticed a rack of fresh pies though, so I ordered a spinach. The guys behind the counter threw it into the oven for me and pulled it out a few minutes later - exactly how they do it in the Middle East.

    The pie was excellent; actually the best thing I've eaten lately. The crust was very fresh and the opposite of the mushy stuff you often get at other bakeries and the spinach was very well spiced and tartly sour. At two bucks this would be a great deal. At a dollar, no kidding, its a steal. Will try the potato, cheese, meat and pizza versions soon. They have both closed triangles, and open lahmajin style pies. And apparently shawarma and fresh juice.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #3 - August 4th, 2010, 1:13 pm
    Post #3 - August 4th, 2010, 1:13 pm Post #3 - August 4th, 2010, 1:13 pm
    I'm ready to declare Taza Bakery officially the best of the Middle Eastern variety in Chicago, and possibly the U.S. (Los Assholes and Puke York be damned, but not you great land of RoboCop - Detroit).

    All sillyness aside, this is a serious bakery. Unlike it's competitors (there are many in Chicago, dozens of ME bakeries) the tandoor bread put out here has some real character - each piece is distinct, scattered with alternatively chewy, charred and crispy bits. It is the real deal and as close as you will get to the daily bread of places such as Cairo, Nablus and apparently Baghdad or Mosul (its an Iraqi joint). The bread is meant to be consumed, nay cherished, the same day the way one would a baguette in Paris. Pretty unrealistic if you don't live near West Devon, the bread is still great reheated in the oven. Either way, it is sublime with some good olive oil and thick yogurt, or to scoop up some ful. It would make an even better bed for a proper musakhan, but that is another post for another day.

    Their other offerings are pretty damn good as well. Lahmajun shows up as well-spiced meat on a slightly smaller disc of the same blistered bread; cheese and veggie versions are also available. The spinach pies could use a bit more char perhaps, but the filling is exquisite - tartly sour, aggressively spiced, still tasting like spinach. They also have fresh carrot and orange juice, as well as what appear to be homemade slushies. They also have a shawarma cone spinning around in the back and apparently make bagels.

    Did I mention everything is dirt cheap? A bag of 5 of the aforementioned hubcap sized tandoor breads will cost you a mere two bucks. Spinach pies are a buck apiece.

    Taza Bakery, a lil' piece of the mil' eas' in Chicago.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #4 - August 4th, 2010, 2:54 pm
    Post #4 - August 4th, 2010, 2:54 pm Post #4 - August 4th, 2010, 2:54 pm
    Habibi wrote:I'm ready to declare Taza Bakery officially the best of the Middle Eastern variety in Chicago, and possibly the U.S.

    You're enthusiasm has put this on the top of my must-do list. Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #5 - August 7th, 2010, 12:07 pm
    Post #5 - August 7th, 2010, 12:07 pm Post #5 - August 7th, 2010, 12:07 pm
    I spent yesterday out of the office and shopping for food. What a great day (probably belongs in you know you're an LTHer thread)! I hit Romanian Sausage, Tel Aviv Bakery, Kaufman's, Fresh Farms, and finally Taza Bakery. Definitely a real bakery with the brick oven clearly evident behind the counter, as were the folks making the spinach pies. I bought 4 spinach pies--I think they're $0.89 each before tax--and a bag of 6 tannur breads, which are pita-like in consistency but samoon-shaped. I agree with Habibi about the taste of the spinach pies and that they are an amazing bargain. The spinach filling is quite tart, while the dough is fairly soft. Indeed, they could have a bit more char. They remind me of the spinach pies I used to buy from Babylon Bakery. (I guess this is the Assyrian style.) The tannur is good, chewy with a nice crumb and some real taste, not those puffy tasteless excuses for pita one sometimes finds. They were doing business, although it was very hot in there, and yesterday was not a hot day. The friendly man who sold me the bread cheerfully said, "you got it," in a true Chicago accent when I asked for the pies even though he looked uncomfortably hot and a bit sweaty. Definitely worth a stop to try more. Thanks for posting, Dave148 and Habibi!
  • Post #6 - August 7th, 2010, 3:00 pm
    Post #6 - August 7th, 2010, 3:00 pm Post #6 - August 7th, 2010, 3:00 pm
    Habibi's description of Taza's bread as charred, chewy, crispy and blistered lurked in the back of my mind for a day or so, then caused me to drive a couple of miles out of my way on my usual path home yesterday. I was certainly happy I did. The first thing I noticed was the large, open (stone floor?) oven near the front of the place . . . I assume this is where the bread gets much of its character (and in fact it has tons of character).

    On this visit, I ordered a meat and cheese lahmajun and a spinach pie (although I suspect they mistakenly gave me a potato or vegetable pie) to go - I'm sure these items would be better consumed immediately at Taza, but I needed to get home. Below are pictures of both.

    Image
    lahmajun on left, with meat and cheese filling peeking out, and potato (or vegetable) pie on the right


    Image
    interior of lahmajun


    Image
    interior of potato (or vegetable) pie


    I loved the lahmajun. The bread (I assume the same tannur bread sold there) was excellent - charred, chewy, blistered and flavorful as promised. You can certainly see the char for yourselves in the first picture above. The filling was great too. If I had to describe the meat filling, interestingly I'd tell you that it tastes like a finely ground corned beef hash, aggressively seasoned with spices, and when combined with the bread and cheese, a great Middle Eastern reuben sans sauerkraut and thousand island dressing. I've never had this type of meat filling before, and I am far from an expert on Middle Eastern food, but is this what I understand is called pastirma? In any event, delicious (and ridiculously inexpensive). I'll be back for more.

    The potato (or vegetable) pastry was likewise very good. While the bread here did not have the same charred/blistered characteristics of the lahmajun, it was still good and the filling also aggressively seasoned and very tasty. It didn't take long for the aromas from both items to fill the air in my kitchen.

    The above two items are enough to convince me to return, and soon. The gentleman at the counter also praised both the beef and chicken shawarma, as if he was proudly describing his own child with a sparkle in his eyes. It looks like there's a lot to like about Taza Bakery and I'm anxious to discover more of the menu.
  • Post #7 - August 10th, 2010, 2:33 pm
    Post #7 - August 10th, 2010, 2:33 pm Post #7 - August 10th, 2010, 2:33 pm
    After reading these reviews I could not wait any longer and went to Taza Bakery for lunch. It's located less than 1.5 miles from home. And that will not be my first and last mini-trip there since what they do is so good.
    I had the meat and cheese lahmbajeen. That is the way they spell it at Taza. I may be wrong but i believe that taza means fresh in arabic.
    Therefore I think the dish should not be spelled " Lamajoun", like most contributors did, which is the way a variation of this specialty is often spelled in Armenian and Lebanese restaurants.
    In fact I found it to be a bit simpler at Taza, but very tasty nevertheless, than the numerous La(h)majouns I had in other Middle-Estern eateries in Chicago and in Europe. At Taza the meat seems to be essentially beef, instead of lamb which is often predominant in Armenian and Lebanese Lamajoun. And I could barely detect any presence of onion, tomato, and the spicing was more delicate than in most of its Armenian counterpart.
    But I was very pleased by the quality of the bread, which, once again, has nothing to do with these terribly boring and blend pita and other flat breads that are commonly served around town. I think that, as it is the case with good Neapolitan pizza, the high temperature of the brick oven (gas fired) and the expertise of the bakers who know exactly when the crust and the meat are cooked the way they should, about 3 minutes, are the key elements to success and consistency in texture, level of charring and blistering, and ultimately taste.
    I wish a long and successful life to Taza.
  • Post #8 - August 10th, 2010, 4:36 pm
    Post #8 - August 10th, 2010, 4:36 pm Post #8 - August 10th, 2010, 4:36 pm
    I stopped in at Taza and got a package of Samoon bread that still had a bit of warmth, so it was fresh. Unfortunately, it was rather flavorless with none of the charring described in this thread. I also got a spinach and a vegetable pie. They asked if I wanted them heated, and since this was to go, I said no, and warmed them up in my home oven. This didn't do the trick; the dough was not right.

    Bottom line, I'll be back, but I'm not ordering anything that I don't see coming right out of the oven.

    Jonah
  • Post #9 - August 10th, 2010, 6:11 pm
    Post #9 - August 10th, 2010, 6:11 pm Post #9 - August 10th, 2010, 6:11 pm
    If it was indeed samoon that you got (the football-shaped one) the lack of char is normal. It's supposed to be like that. If you got the big, round pancake (tannur/tandoor) then someone f'd up.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #10 - August 11th, 2010, 10:38 am
    Post #10 - August 11th, 2010, 10:38 am Post #10 - August 11th, 2010, 10:38 am
    I did get the football shaped samoon, so that is obviously not the bread for me. I didn't see any pancake shaped breads (especially with lovely char on them) when I was there. I will now dream of lovely, charred bread and have to return to try my luck again.

    Jonah
  • Post #11 - August 26th, 2010, 8:34 am
    Post #11 - August 26th, 2010, 8:34 am Post #11 - August 26th, 2010, 8:34 am
    Tucked in from the street with its own parking lot Taza is easy to spot

    Image

    Clean, spacious with brick oven, spinning schwarma and shelves of bakery it appears most everything is made in-house.

    Image

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    Enjoyed the toasty brown goodness and well developed flavor of the lahimbajeen bread, minced beef spread topping, which is made in-house, was a shade too Hormel corned beef in a can for my taste. BR has a picture upthread worth 1000 of my explanatory words. Next visit either zaatar, cheese or both.

    Lahimbajeen

    Image

    Baked stuffed pies have potential to become addictive, spinach has a bit of twang, chicken mild spice, though its more about the casing than the filling.

    Image

    Liked the bread encasing the shawarma more than the meat, sandwich is large, sloppy not bad at all and, like everything at Taza, a real value.

    Shawarma

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    I'm an equal opportunity hummus lover including the tahini heavy version served at Taza. Surprisingly the falafel, crisp fresh from the fryer, were among the best I've had in a while. Chunks of samoon the perfect scoop.

    Hummus/Falafel/Samoon

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    Taza has potential to become a regular stop, impossibly low prices will allow me to drill down to a short list of favorites in record time and the parking lot on busy Devon Ave makes a quick stop to pick up bread or a couple of date cookies ever so much easier.

    Dave, very glad you made the heads up post and Habibi and the rest for the fill in.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #12 - August 26th, 2010, 8:34 pm
    Post #12 - August 26th, 2010, 8:34 pm Post #12 - August 26th, 2010, 8:34 pm
    G Wiv wrote:impossibly low prices will allow me to drill down to a short list of favorites in record time
    Second go I hit gold, Zaatar, sumac and sesame seed heavy with a drizzle of olive oil the flat out best version I've encountered. I'm now wondering if they sell the zaatar separate, I'd love to have a jar on hand.

    Zaatar

    Image

    Soujouk, made with an amped up version of the same meat as lahimajeen, slightly spicy a sprinkle from the shaker of cayenne and drizzle of olive oil had me wishing we had ordered two.

    Soujouk

    Image

    I'm not sure of the name of this bread, but it was the perfect foil for hummus and is going to be my go-to take home bread from Taza.

    Image

    Love the sumac twang in the spinach pie, my dining companion went ga-ga for them, an absolute gem for 89 cents.

    Second visit and I am picking up serious favorites, can't wait for a third.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - September 10th, 2010, 10:32 am
    Post #13 - September 10th, 2010, 10:32 am Post #13 - September 10th, 2010, 10:32 am
    Not to dispute what comes out of a kitchen on another day, but based on Wednesday's beef shawerma sandwich, I would strongly disagree with the idea that the shawerma here is just okay. I thought the sandwich I had was easily the best shawerma I've had in a long, long time, with a multidimensional seasoning which lifted it well above the pack and all the fresh-crisped juiciness you'd hope for. All caveats about variability of staff, time of day, etc. apply, but Wednesday, Taza hit shawerma out of the park for me (appropriate for a place that close to Thillens, I suppose).

    I liked it being on the big bubbly bread (tannur), too, because it held together much better than the thin rolled pitas do. I also tried the hummus (perfectly okay) with the football shaped breads, which I found much, much, much less interesting than the tannur.

    I was a bit resistant to Taza earlier because that little strip mall was home to a decidedly depressing experience at Kabob 2 some years ago (I think on Chowhound, that's how long ago) as well as the rather dodgy looking "European massage" place, but the food, the freshness of the bread, the energy in the bakery, and the hospitality are all first rate and deserve a visit. When I was writing about middle eastern in Bridgeview a couple of years ago one of the things I noted was how much better the middle eastern breads baked on the south side were. In the short time since at least three places-- Sanabel, Eastern Breadstone and this-- have opened baking various styles that are at least as good as anything I tried down there.
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  • Post #14 - September 10th, 2010, 11:04 am
    Post #14 - September 10th, 2010, 11:04 am Post #14 - September 10th, 2010, 11:04 am
    Hi,

    I am so looking forward to the Taza treats coming to the picnic. It will be my first try for their food.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #15 - February 7th, 2011, 4:29 pm
    Post #15 - February 7th, 2011, 4:29 pm Post #15 - February 7th, 2011, 4:29 pm
    Taza Bakery has been nominated here for a GNR Award. Please discuss the nomination here.
    Last edited by boudreaulicious on February 8th, 2011, 8:46 am, edited 5 times in total.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #16 - February 7th, 2011, 9:06 pm
    Post #16 - February 7th, 2011, 9:06 pm Post #16 - February 7th, 2011, 9:06 pm
    As much of a true GNR as there ever was one. Relatively undiscovered, the food (especially the bread) merits more discussion than it previously has garnered (almost exclusively, I think, from the Chicago Reader and Sky Full Of Bacon). There are few better things than the hot, bubbly zaatar lahmajun and slightly sour spinach samoon, fresh from the oven. The schwarma, normally pedestrian at other restaurants, is deliciously prepared. Even the hummus, the guacamole of Middle Eastern restaurants, is caringly prepared: airy and well-seasoned. But, really, you come here for whatever comes out of the oven. I love the hustle and bustle of the bakery, as various workers buzz around, constantly preparing small batches of baked goods so that something is always fresh. Count me a fan!!

    Edited to add additional press mention for Taza.
    Last edited by aschie30 on February 7th, 2011, 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #17 - February 7th, 2011, 9:23 pm
    Post #17 - February 7th, 2011, 9:23 pm Post #17 - February 7th, 2011, 9:23 pm
    So this place is still wonderful and fully deserving of all accolades, awards, etc. However, at some point, they seem to have acquired a panini press and are using it on the sandwiches. This must stop.
  • Post #18 - February 7th, 2011, 9:34 pm
    Post #18 - February 7th, 2011, 9:34 pm Post #18 - February 7th, 2011, 9:34 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:Taza Bakery has been nominated for a GNR Award. Please discuss the nomination here.


    If anyone wants to read the actual nomination, a link is here.

    Fantastic nomination, I agree it is GNR worthy!
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
  • Post #19 - February 7th, 2011, 10:55 pm
    Post #19 - February 7th, 2011, 10:55 pm Post #19 - February 7th, 2011, 10:55 pm
    Ursiform wrote:Fantastic nomination, I agree it is GNR worthy!
    Taza is a once a week stop, hot from the oven zatar bread drizzled with olive oil, sprinkle of cayenne and tea for $1.99. If really hungry I add Soujouk, a spiced up version of lahmajun.

    Friendly, if a bit reserved, spotless, comfortable in a spartan sort of fashion and inexpensive. Fresh from the oven samoon are.......don't remember, maybe 5 for $2, and a terrific foil for all types of sandwiches.

    Taza Bakery, count me a fan.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #20 - February 8th, 2011, 8:33 am
    Post #20 - February 8th, 2011, 8:33 am Post #20 - February 8th, 2011, 8:33 am
    Gee - I "discovered" a GNR. I guess that looks good on a resume, or my headstone :D
    Last edited by Dave148 on February 17th, 2011, 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #21 - February 8th, 2011, 9:23 am
    Post #21 - February 8th, 2011, 9:23 am Post #21 - February 8th, 2011, 9:23 am
    Taza is as good Today as it was a year ago.
    If I do not get a fix of Soujouk or chicken Shawarma every 10 days I do not feel well, especially after snow shoveling.
    The owner, Marc, is always very pleasant and the place is sparkling clean and sunny.
    There is no doubit in my mind that this place is GNR worthy.
    Alain
  • Post #22 - February 12th, 2011, 10:04 pm
    Post #22 - February 12th, 2011, 10:04 pm Post #22 - February 12th, 2011, 10:04 pm
    Hi,

    Today was my second visit to Taza Bakery. I brought Mom2 to share a beef shawarma, a vegetable pie made of eggplant, mushroom and onions, babaganoush and flat bread.

    I was glad we were sharing the Shawarma, because I did not expect its size. It is wrapped in their flat bread, which is 10-12 inches in diameter. The flat bread I bought for home was used to dip into the babaganoush. After eating our shawarma, there was no room left to consider the vegetable pie.

    Amongst Mom2's octogenarian friends, she is consider the eater of exotic foods. She enjoyed every morsel of the shawarma sandwich, then inquired how to pronounce it. She wanted to recommend to her friends Taza Bakery.

    The last time I had a Shwarma sandwich this flavorful was from the Shawarma King on Kedzie. He made his much smaller with just as flavorfully seasoned meat, which I had not had since he died.

    Taza's shawarma wrapped with their freshly baked flat bread is a meal fit for a Sultan, who only enjoy's the very best.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #23 - February 14th, 2011, 9:52 am
    Post #23 - February 14th, 2011, 9:52 am Post #23 - February 14th, 2011, 9:52 am
    REB and I made our second visit to Taza yesterday, and our initial feelings about the place were confirmed. The breads are very good, but the food is mostly unimpressive.

    We picked up a few things for carryout on our first visit a few weeks ago, including a beef schwarma sandwich, a lahmajun bread, some hummus, a spinach pie, a potato pie, and a 4-pack of the tannur bread. By the time we got it home, the schwarma was bland and dry and the only thing we could do to make it palatable was to add a ton of hot sauce. The meat on the lahmajun bread (described as "tri-tip" on the menu, but more aptly explained as a "ground beef spread") was too mushy and earned an unfortunate textural comparison with cat food. Hummus was sad and needed a citrus and tahini boost. Spinach pie was edible, but was bland and boring compared to the wonderful version at Sanabel. The potato pie was too dull to bother eating.

    The tannur bread, on the other hand, was excellent (and has a surprisingly long shelf life). Nice char, good chew, and quite versatile. We finished the 4 large pieces over the next several days in various applications. That tannur, as well as the GNR nomination, motivated a return to try Taza again.

    This time, we decided to eat there so that we could eat everything fresh. This time, we went for the zaatar bread, a beef schwarma sandwich, and a falafel sandwich. We also grabbed another 4-pack of tannur to go. The zaatar bread was excellent, with wonderful crunch, chew, and sumac tang. The beef schwarma, though far more enjoyable hot and fresh than after making the drive home, was still bland and somewhat dry. (We asked for hot sauce and received something resembling Frank's. Turns out, you can put that sh7t on everything.) The pale, yellow falafel was too bland and mushy to compete with better versions all over town. Once again, however, the breads (this time we tried the samoon as well) were fresh and generally excellent.

    We also had a couple of service gaffes. Taza's paper menu lists that sandwiches come with drinks (from 11:00 am to whenever) as a lunch special. We asked the employee that took our order and she said that we should grab any drinks we want. When the gentleman that is presumably the owner or manager saw us taking a few cans of pop, he stopped us and said that only the schwarma, but not the falafel comes with a drink. I pointed out the language on the menu and offered to pay for an extra can if it was a problem. He refused my offer of payment, but grumbled about the menus being printed incorrectly. Not my problem and I don't really care that much. Next, I was summoned to the counter to pick up two falafel sandwiches. I said we had only ordered one, and the second one disappeared. We added up our order and compared it to the receipt, and it turned out that we paid for both falafel. Since we didn't want to have another disagreement with the boss-man over a $2.99 overcharge, we let it go. An itemized receipt would have been nice and might have avoided this in the first place.

    I just noticed how many times I've used the word "bland" in this post. I guess that is my bottom line about Taza. Bread excellent, food generally bland and somewhere south of "meh," and service unimpressive. This doesn't make it a GNR in my book, but instead a decent place to pick up a few pieces of bread if I happen to be driving by.
    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #24 - February 14th, 2011, 10:02 am
    Post #24 - February 14th, 2011, 10:02 am Post #24 - February 14th, 2011, 10:02 am
    RAB wrote:I just noticed how many times I've used the word "bland" in this post. I guess that is my bottom line about Taza. Bread excellent, food generally bland and somewhere south of "meh," and service unimpressive. This doesn't make it a GNR in my book, but instead a decent place to pick up a few pieces of bread if I happen to be driving by.
    --Rich


    Rich,

    This pretty much mirrors my feeling about Taza Bakery. I've been there twice now and it's a place that just doesn't do it for me. The breads are good though.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #25 - February 14th, 2011, 10:39 am
    Post #25 - February 14th, 2011, 10:39 am Post #25 - February 14th, 2011, 10:39 am
    RAB wrote:Bread excellent, food generally bland and somewhere south of "meh," and service unimpressive.
    To me Taza Bakery is just that, a bakery. I professed my love for the zartar bread upthread. I'm a fan of the samoon, tannoor, spinach pie and Soujouk. Taza's shawerma is just ~fine~

    Taza Bakery, terrific GNR nomination, Taza as destination for shawerma, debatable.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #26 - February 14th, 2011, 10:42 am
    Post #26 - February 14th, 2011, 10:42 am Post #26 - February 14th, 2011, 10:42 am
    Soujouk is the sausage right? Do they make it in house?
  • Post #27 - February 14th, 2011, 11:10 am
    Post #27 - February 14th, 2011, 11:10 am Post #27 - February 14th, 2011, 11:10 am
    Thanks for clarifying that, Gary. Nobody should go to Taza expecting a sit-down, full-on restaurant. Service is utilitarian. This is the sort of place where you order at the counter from the menu board, and then someone brings your food on a tray (or you get called to the counter). As the name suggests, Taza is a bakery first; you go for the fantastic bread, or bread-based items (schwarma is above fine for me), but other items are good as well. Focusing on the prepared items is sort of like going to D'Amato's, and being disappointed that they gave your pizza bread on a wax-paper sheet instead of a plate, or that the arancini offered at the counter at Da Riv isn't as good as that offered at, say, Anteprima. To me, Taza is the best example offered thus far this round of GNR noms, in that it has a certain embedded neighborhood quality as well as a focus that it executes really well.
  • Post #28 - February 17th, 2011, 2:27 pm
    Post #28 - February 17th, 2011, 2:27 pm Post #28 - February 17th, 2011, 2:27 pm
    RAB wrote:REB and I made our second visit to Taza yesterday, and our initial feelings about the place were confirmed. The breads are very good, but the food is mostly unimpressive....I just noticed how many times I've used the word "bland" in this post. I guess that is my bottom line about Taza. Bread excellent, food generally bland and somewhere south of "meh," and service unimpressive. This doesn't make it a GNR in my book, but instead a decent place to pick up a few pieces of bread if I happen to be driving by.
    --Rich


    I'm surprised you found the spinach pie and shawerma bland. The former is, to my taste, the most spice and sour forward version I've had in Chicago. I haven't had Sanabel's spinach pie in a while, but it probably didn't make a huge impression on me because I remember nothing about it.

    Shawarma seems to get mixed reviews, myself and others consider it one of the better (I never claimed best) versions in Chicago, which has a lot to do with the excellent tannur, but also the freshness of the meat, and again, what I consider an excellent spice profile.

    As far as those Iraqi/Assyrian-style "curry" potato pies are concerned, I've never had one I really liked. And I'm a big fan of the potato and starch combo - Turkish/Balkan style potato burek being a favorite breakfast item of mine. The version at Taza and other Iraqi bakeries needs more oil/grease.

    I like the lahm bil ajeen. I don't mind the fine mince on the ground beef. Many middle eastern and south asian cooking styles call for a very fine mince - see for example a proper Qeema. I have a feeling those who are turned off by the meat on the lahm bil ajeen will be much more at home with the chunky, and arguable more flavorful meat on the sujuk (sausage) pie.

    I've never had the falafel or hummus. With very limited exceptions, these are not things I expect Arabic/ME restaurants in Chicago (or nearly anywhere in the states) to do well.

    At least as far as the Bakery part goes, it appears that Taza has a lot of GNR support, and I really hope they make it. At the very least, I also appreciate that so many people took the time to offer their comments on the place (positive or negative), and to the extent that this was one of my main motivations in writing the GNR nomination, I feel as if the endeavor was succesful.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #29 - February 17th, 2011, 2:31 pm
    Post #29 - February 17th, 2011, 2:31 pm Post #29 - February 17th, 2011, 2:31 pm
    Habibi wrote:
    RAB wrote:REB and I made our second visit to Taza yesterday, and our initial feelings about the place were confirmed. The breads are very good, but the food is mostly unimpressive....I just noticed how many times I've used the word "bland" in this post. I guess that is my bottom line about Taza. Bread excellent, food generally bland and somewhere south of "meh," and service unimpressive. This doesn't make it a GNR in my book, but instead a decent place to pick up a few pieces of bread if I happen to be driving by.
    --Rich


    I'm surprised you found the spinach pie and shawerma bland. The former is, to my taste, the most spice and sour forward version I've had in Chicago. I haven't had Sanabel's spinach pie in a while, but it probably didn't make a huge impression on me because I remember nothing about it.
    ....


    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
    ...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 #30 - February 20th, 2011, 11:33 am
    Post #30 - February 20th, 2011, 11:33 am Post #30 - February 20th, 2011, 11:33 am
    turkob wrote:Soujouk is the sausage right? Do they make it in house?
    Soujouk is made in house as is the meat topping for lahimbajeen. My preference is soujouk, spicier with a coarser grind than lahimbajeen, though my one true Taza love is Zatar bread.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow

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