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Damascus- Not Just a Bakery Anymore

acemdin Jan 14, 2008 03:18 PM

After shopping in Sahadi I stopped at Damascus for a piece of baklava. They were in the midst of greatly expanding their selection of non-baked items (beyond the case of sauces, etc. they have long had). I saw oil, spices, dried fruit and at least one additional refrigerator case. I wonder why they are doing this (though I didn't ask). I am all for competition and consumer choice, but given their neighbors, it seems an odd choice.

  1. healaeats Oct 1, 2008 08:06 AM

    I have to sing the praises of one item at damascus that is not mentioned here--their SPINACH PIES! a great snack or a light lunch if you're in the area, and they will warm them up for you. A flatish doughy triangle the size of a large hand with wonderful spinach inside. I also love their tabouleh and hummos (and of course pita)...plus the guy who is behind the counter is friendly and calculate your bill in his head in a flash.

    1. s
      savoryhash Jul 5, 2008 09:15 AM

      No one mentioned Oriental Grocery on the other side of Atlantic. Great prices and strong selection of "ethnic" stuff, but not so much on the gourmet end. Excellent house made lamb sausage, as well as rice, grains etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: savoryhash
        jdf Jul 5, 2008 10:35 AM

        I like Oriental, but haven't found their prices to be great, at least for pastries. Everything is priced by the pound, which usually means that any of the pastries which are soaked in honey and rose water come out to $2-$3 per piece. Thus, I stick with Damascus. Also, due to lower turnover, I find their Oriental's pastries to be great when fresh, but freshness has been hit or miss, in my experience.

      2. bolletje Jul 4, 2008 06:52 AM

        They also have really good fried kibbe balls. Small, light and fresh with a decent amount of pine nuts in the filling.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bolletje
          lambretta76 Jul 4, 2008 10:09 AM

          I just noticed these yesterday on my pita run, but they have "chicken sandwiches" in the glass case at the far right of the counter. They almost look like samsa or something like that - has anyone ever tried these? (They're not in the usual case near the spinach pies and lahmajun and what not.)

          1. re: lambretta76
            Nehna Jul 6, 2008 10:30 AM

            Do you mean the chicken pies? (look like the meat pies but stuffed with minced chicken and other additions) If so, they're my husband's favorite pie at Damascus. If it's something else, I might have to investigate ;)

            They also sometimes have a really tasty sweet pastry -- they're like deep fried balls of a rather fruity flavored dough.

        2. bigjeff Jul 2, 2008 09:01 PM

          those people lucky enough to live near these two places should count their blessings; it's always a 1-2 punch for me but I prefer damascus, just because I usually go with the little guy. they have great prices on yogurt and of course, their pita is hard to beat. I like their savory pastries as well and I've started getting some of the spices and dry goods from this place.

          1. b
            ben61820 Jan 17, 2008 03:34 PM

            damascus has probably the best halvah. they make it right there, in house. sahadi's is good, too, of course (as is the place across the street) but something about damascus' just keeps me hooked. its also nice to see them hack a piece for you fresh off the big ol' block. old-worldy and nice.

            1. nbermas Jan 15, 2008 09:18 AM

              What is Sahadi's and where is it, it sounds interesting. Thanks Where do you get good homemade hummous and pita?

              5 Replies
              1. re: nbermas
                Nehna Jan 16, 2008 05:04 AM

                Atlantic Avenue, between Court Street and Henry Street has a variety of middle eastern shops including Sahadi's, Damascus, and a couple of stores across the street from them, as well as a bunch of restaurants serving up similar (Waterfalls, Sinaa, etc).

                1. re: Nehna
                  EJC Jan 16, 2008 05:09 AM

                  Unfortunately the gate has been down at Saana for several months now.

                  1. re: EJC
                    lambretta76 Jan 16, 2008 08:33 AM

                    Yup - I think Sanaa closed for Ramadan and never reopened. They started out strong but went downhill quickly.

                    1. re: lambretta76
                      Nehna Jan 16, 2008 03:23 PM

                      Damn that's a pity. I had an excellent falafel sandwich there.

                      1. re: Nehna
                        NancyC Jul 1, 2008 10:40 PM

                        Wow. I thought Sanaa had been around a while but lambretta76's post makes it sound like they only lasted a year or so. I never got around to trying it...after Hadramout didn't even come close to the deliciousness of Yemen Cafe, I was loath to venture further...

              2. e
                eeee Jan 14, 2008 06:50 PM

                Well, Damascus is open on Sundays and Sahadi's isn't.

                6 Replies
                1. re: eeee
                  Mr. Particular Jan 15, 2008 10:32 AM

                  And I prefer their hummous and tabouleh to Sahadi's. Of course I love Sahadi's for other things. Besides having a good selection of gourmet items that are hard to find, and that fun spice/dried fruit and nut area, they are also amazingly cheap at times. This weekend, a tin of Hungarian paprika was $2.75 at Sahadi's. Same tin at Staubitz, 4-5 blocks away? $4.50.

                  1. re: Mr. Particular
                    Nehna Jan 16, 2008 05:03 AM

                    I agree on Damascus hummous, I also prefer the texture and the taste. And they have other excellent spreads that Sahadi's doesnt have---there's an excellent mildly sweet walnut dip and a spicy one with red peppers in it (I never remember the names of the two, but they normally have both).

                    Damascus has also started making their own sausages in house which are really excellent. You throw them in a pan with no oil, fry them up, and drizzle over some lemon juice (on the owner's advice) and have them with pita and tahini.

                    I have to say, as much as I love Sahadi's for certain things, I tend to spend more of my time next door these days, esp as they continue to add new items (they have great falafel normally now too).

                    1. re: Nehna
                      Widmark Jan 16, 2008 06:31 AM

                      Damascus Tahinini Bread is my favorite thing ever. I get another kind of Tahini Bread from Titan Food in Astoria which is much more desert-y. They're both awesome though.

                      1. re: Nehna
                        Fleur Jan 17, 2008 12:18 AM

                        The best hand made Pita bread can be found at Damascus. The difference in the food may well be explained by the fact that the Sahadis are the grandsons of Lebanese immigrants, and the Damascus family are Syrians

                        The Sahadsis main business is wholesale distributing all over the country, Damascus is their baked goods, also distrubuted all over the US.

                        I remember having Pita bread when I was way up in Maine, quite a long time ago. The owner showed us the package, and it came from Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Avenue.

                        They will both be having special vegetarian dished for Lent. They do not observe Ramadan.

                        1. re: Fleur
                          lambretta76 Jan 17, 2008 08:55 AM

                          I love the triangular pita bread they have - smoky and charred - it's brilliant.

                          1. re: lambretta76
                            Nehna Jan 17, 2008 11:50 AM

                            couldnt agree more :)

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