I'm planning to visit Sahadi's for the first time this week. Any suggestions of things that shouldn't be missed?
I prefer the pita (esp the kind that's sliced into wedges) and the hummos at Damascus over Sahadi's. They baked their own pita unlike Sahadi's. And their hummos is thicker, and probably just personal preference. Damascus also gets other tasty spreads (there's a great spicy roasted red peppery one, and a sweeter one with walnuts in it. And they occasionally sell premixed falafel mix to cook at home.
They both have excellent pies and pastries.....love the tiny spanikopita at Sahadi's and the feta/tomato pastry...love the chicken pie at Damascus.
Sahadi's has a huge cheese selection. They have wonderful smoked almonds like dean and deluca sells but for a fraction of the price (lots of great things by the pound in fact).
And Sahadi's does a rotating variety of prepared dishes...great falafel, kibbeh, tomato/feta/cucumber salad, etc.
On our weekend walks over, we usually go to both stores for the best of each.
At Damascus, there are different kinds of pita. Look for the homemade triangle-shaped pitas - usually in big blue bins on the right as you walk in. Those are perfection...fluffy pitas unlike the chewier flat round traditional ones.
I love Sahadi's lamb-stuffed grape leaves and all their prepared dishes. Plus Charlie Sahadi is a shining example of a great shopkeeper - what a nice guy.
in addition to the triangle pitas (which i love) the sesame pitas at damascus are also fluffy, tasty and wonderful.
sahadi's has a za'atar bread that is too oily for my taste, but the bread is chewy, tasty, and fantastic. ditto the recommendation of the grape leaves (but with and without meat). also get the shams brand small iranian pickles with tarragon: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37253... . get fresh persian cukes (tucked between the nuts and the other room). if they have dates in the fridge by the juices, in brick-sized boxes, get those--they're melty and luscious (though I haven't seen them much since the big earthquake in Bam, Iran a couple years ago).
At the prepared food counter: lentils with carmelized onions. Ditto the grape leaves. Mushroom-filled filo triangles.
From the olive bins: spicy olive mix with red peppers and pearl onions.
Kalamata olives, black and green from the bins, are a don't-miss item.
Sample the many varieties of feta cheese. I love the Bulgarian, which is creamy.
American pistachios are better than imported. They always have a special on the 3-pound bag, and they're so good your household will devour them in a couple of days. A nut cracker is needed to open the closed or nearly closed ones, but it's worth the effort.
The have high quality olive oils and vinegars at bargain prices. Try the B.R. Cohen olive oil, which is too good for anything other than dipping. I like the non-organic better than the organic.
Get a loffah for scrubbing your back.
Their halvah is magnificent.
Fresh breads near the cash register are great, particular the onion ficelles,
Things I always buy at Sahadi's:
nuts, all nuts
raisins and all other dried friuts, anything bulk there is great ...
try the different malted balls in the bulk section too.
Omelia brand apricot jam is outstanding (it's in a angular/rounded shaped jar)
Mymoun brand Pomegrante molassas
big brick bulk chocolate (their prices of Girabladi chocolate are good too)
Kesso brand yogurt
Sahadi's brand Lavash crackers with the sesame seeds (great value)
There's probably more but I'm drawing a blank now.
Every time I'm in Sahadi's, I buy one thing I've never tried before. Makes for a lot of fun.
Otherwise: nuts, juiciest dried figs ever, olives (green and black cerignola in particular), coffee, bulgur and other bulk dried goods, hummus, chocolate, chocolate-covered pretzels, those addictive sun-dried veggie chips, the nut and sesame bars, feta and halloumi cheese!
Possibly my favorite place in Brooklyn--I feel about it the way Holly Golightly felt about Tiffany's.