Great Mediterranean Grocer in So. Charlotte - Sahara
I recently posted about Sahara Market in Charlotte on another forum and I wanted to share it here as well. I figure that in this economy, with our tendency to go to big chain supermarkets, when an independent store owner gets it right, I just have to share.
This is a little tucked-away store in Stonecrest (South Charlotte off Rea Road) that I would have never discovered if we hadn't had to stay in the Residence Inn there two weeks ago.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this store in any way, except for having bought their stuff!
It's called "Sahara". They have a few signs pointing the way to their location. They are across from the Stonecrest shopping area, in the section next to Applebees and the Auto Bell (and Residence Inn).
It's a store selling Mediterranean/middle eastern style food staples. I have been there twice and while it's a small store, it's got fantastic foods and I'm very impressed with the place.
Their unbranded frozen naan is amazing, and it reheats so well. Unlike naan that you buy from major brands, their naan is actually made for them by Cafe Nirvana, the Indian restaurant off Lancaster Highway. They make the naan at the restaurant, then freeze it and sell it at Sahara. The result is that you can finally buy restaurant-style naan, frozen, in Charlotte. The problem I have with the "brand" naan you buy in stores is that it's all so flavorless and so uniformly cooked. This naan has darker sections, some crispier, and is much more flavorful.
There are many other goodies there, ranging from all sorts of grains, lentils, flours, fantastic fresh hummus - not a major brand, canned goods to hookas and turkish/greek coffee pots.
Their prices are reasonable. Their hours are good (they are open on Sunday) and the best thing is that the guy who runs (owns?) the store is incredibly nice. I am your average, caucasian southern woman who loves ethnic foods. When I go to our local ethnic grocers and stores, I often feel completely intimidated and out of place.
Both times when I've walked in, the guy running the store has said upfront that if I have any questions, to please let him know. (This, vs. the no eye contact at many other places.) When I was there last, I asked him about the naan and he told me about how they get it from Cafe Nirvana.
And as an added bonus, this last time when I bought the naan he told me about a wonderful preparation I could make with chicken tenders, onions, sumac, some olive oil, etc. He took me back to show me the spices, and I bought those as well. He's very interested in sharing the cuisine and recipes and such. I have never been to an ethnic grocer where I've felt like they were willing to share their history and food information with me, and I loved that.
2 thumbs up for this place. If you like mediterranean and middle eastern food, check it out!
It does sound good.
BTW, if you feel intimidated, out of place at other ethnic stores, don't take it personally. I'm Asian American and I'm treated the same. Some cultures aren't known for friendliness or eye contact. It shouldn't be taken as intimidation, just seen as a difference in social behaviors.