For many years, Haji Baba’s in Tempe has been one of my go-to places for good Middle Eastern food in the Phoenix area. Indeed, it’s been one of the places on my hit list whenever I’m in the Phoenix area. Haji Baba’s isn’t exactly the best decorated place—it’s important to realize that the idea here is a market that sells food, and not a restaurant. As a result, the overall ambiance here is a bit lacking, it’s like eating in an office supply store. But you’re not coming here to enjoy the ambiance, you’re coming here to eat. And that’s where Haji Baba’s shines, with a solid menu of Middle Eastern delights, such as gyros, schawarma (shown here), hummus, tabouleh, grape leaves, olives, and such.
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
Right after getting into Valencia, we had to go strait to our hotel in the outskirts of Valencia in a quiet little suburb known as Alboraya. Alboraya’s claim to fame is being the birthplace to the Horchata (also spelled Orchata, or Orxata in Valencian), the drink common to several Hispanic nations. The proper Valencian version has exactly three ingredients, water, chufa (tigernuts), and sugar. (The related Mexican horchata is generally made from rice or almonds and is spiced). One legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraya, was said to have exclaimed “Això és or, xata!” (“That’s gold, darling!”). In any case, the town of Alboraya is almost a shrine to the Horchata. The main street is Avenida de Horchata, and there are about a dozen horchaterias nearby, with Horchata Daniel being one of the most revered.