Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sizar's Food Mart: Middle Eastern Groceries in Columbia

Talk about "Open O'Simsim." Sizar's Food Mart was a magical surprise for me.

I only passed by because I was taking two bikes to Race Pace, already muttering about how Columbia makes you drive a quarter mile to reach a store that faces Snowden River. That was why I was so aware that Sizar's -- which looks like a convenience store from the outside -- was faced away from Snowden River. No one can sell sodas and cigarettes this tucked away from the public, so there must be something inside that draws customers.

Behind Sizar's door is the best ethnic grocery store in Howard County. OK, maybe tied with Lily's Mexican Market. It is a small store, but stock tightly and smartly with everything you
could need for Middle Eastern food and more. Breads like pita, barbarry bread, a sweet Afghan rist loaf, and lavash the size of a small table. Teas. Spices. A dozen varieties of dried peas, beans and lentils. A dozen more varieties in cans. Farina. Bulgar. Forty-pound bags of rice.

This is a 13-year-old store with a staff that answered questions and joked about me taking pictures. The selection is breath-taking, and the place felt friendly from the moment that I walked inside. Check out the refrigerator with halal hot dogs, Greek yogurt, lebni cheese and more. Slide over to the freezers where you can get filo dough or already-made spinach-and-cheese filo appetizers. Or frozen falafel or halal chicken nuggets, or Deep brand samosas, or frozen lavash to take home.

The selections run from India to Greece with an array of Iranian items that I had never seen. Check out the raisins and dates in the fridge at the entrance. Consider the fun that you could have -- either as ice cream toppings or as cocktail mixers -- with the bottles of fruit syrups, including mint, mulberry, blueberry, and sour cherry. Sample the Iranian fruit roll-ups, expensive at $1.49 but adult flavors in sour cherry, plum and "sour curd."

Again, the world comes to Columbia. Then Columbia hides the world in the back of a shopping center. But once you discover it, you can return again and again.

(UPDATE:  Sizar's moved to Elkridge in early 2009 and changed its name to Ceazar's.  They opened a restaurant to go with the retail store.  The address below is for the Elkridge store, which is now open.)

Ceazar International Market and Restaurant (formerly Sizar's)
6801 Douglas Legum Drive
Elkridge, MD 21075

NEAR: Just off Rte 103 east of U.S. 1. This is just south of Rte 100 and less than two miles from I-95. From Rte 100, you take U.S. 1 south, turn left at the first light onto Rte 103 and follow it as it curves twice. Ceazar is in a shopping center on the left.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was itroduced to this delight by a friend who knows I'm a foodie. She took me to the lunch Buffet, which was a wonderful way to sample the fair. Loved it! The owners were just as generous and Friendly as all the Persians I have ever known.Went back on a Sunday with another friend as a large group of Persians were ordering the special Sunday soup. This other friend and I ordered the same soup to share.We got the sheeps head soup...always willing to try anything,we ate it all. Delicious flavor, texture abit different for me but definately worth the try. The grocery store is nothing but amazing...olives feta, teas,spices I have only read about.Halal meat..what's more to say?Please, please, please... Make the trip.A wonderful buffet, a fabulous store and very kind and gentile puveyors. And you get to watch them make the bread!!