Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Middle Eastern fare in Hackensack

Sahara is a small Middle Eastern market in Hackensack crammed with fresh and packaged foods, including hundreds of imported items. You'll also find homemade meat pies, fried kibbe and stuffed grape leaves, plus pita bread from bakeries as near as Paterson and as far away as Montreal.

The store also stocks pickled lemons from Egypt, like the ones I used in my tuna-sardine salad last week. See earlier post, "Cleopatra's tuna-sardine salad." Sahara is at 242 S. Summit Ave., Hackensack; 201-487-7222.

Meanwhile, based on two visits in August, a new Middle Eastern restaurant in Hackensack called Cafe Arabica is a disappointment. It opened in the large space on Main Street once occupied by The Stealth nightclub and before that Lowits clothing store.

I had lunch there soon after it opened, but me and a friend were the only customers and the falafel sandwich was pretty standard fare. I returned around 6 on the evening of Aug. 22, the first day of Ramadan, because the owner said there would be music, yet the place was empty. I walked in, calling hello, but there were no employees in sight. I left, never to return.


  1. Sahara has a decent variety and prices are pretty fair. Some days the bread isn't as fresh as others, I do not believe they have daily delivery. I haven't been there in about a year. A pretty convenient spot for those who live in the area.

  2. True, I think Sahara gets delivery from Fattal's only one day a week. Once, I tried to find out from Fattal's where they delivered their bread in Bergen County, but after a lot of waiting around in the bakery, no one could be found to tell me. I recall Sahara saying the delivery day was Tuesday, but I would check.

  3. That's why I love going to the source for bread - Fattals or Nouris. When I was younger we would get bread from a small shop on Main St called Amir's. It was a thin style bread and very tasty. I have been told the original owner was an Iranian and later Palestinians owned it. Also, I believe either Tuesday or Wednesday is the day that the Lebanese style bread is delivered to Nouris from Montreal.

  4. Yes, there is nothing like Amir's. I remember it well. The baker formed the loaves by hand in the thinner, Lebanese style. It was chewy and delicious. I really put my foot in my mouth with the first owner of Amir's by referring to an older woman behind the counter as "your mother." It was his wife. I also spoke to the second owner, who was Palestinian, as you said, but he was tired of the early hours and all the work he had to do for a slim profit margin, maybe a dime a bag.

  5. Speaking of pita bread, please take a look at my June 12, 2009, post, "North Jersey's pita bread wars."


Please try to stay on topic.