Hartford's beloved falafel has a new home. Tangiers International Market, a specialty Middle Eastern grocer known for its freshly prepared fried chickpea patties, gyros, kebabs and hummus, has reopened in its new building at 550 Farmington Ave.
Tangiers got its start just over the line in West Hartford in 1995, at 668 Farmington Ave. But in March, when the West Hartford town council voted to raze a shopping center at the corner of Prospect and Farmington and replace it with a brand-new Walgreens pharmacy, the market's Latif family found themselves looking for new digs. "The landlord worked with us, gave us some time to find an ideal location," said Zach Latif, one of Tangiers' owners. "This opened up and it worked out perfectly."
The Hartford market, which opened its doors in early August, was formerly home to Central Supermarket, and before that housed Cheese and Stuff. Latif said the new space is slightly larger than the West Hartford store, with more refrigeration and storage.
Tangiers is known for its wide variety of specialty products, many imported from Europe and the Middle East. Customers come in for tahini sauce, pita bread, couscous, orange blossom water and dried fruits, and as more consumers seek out ingredients for exotic recipes, they'll come in looking for unusual items like pomegranate molasses and sumac, Latif said.
A section of fresh produce is a new addition to the market, with the intent of turning Tangiers into a one-stop shop for necessities. "There are so many people that live in this area that need a grocery store for staples like milk, eggs, bread," Zach Latif said. "So in addition to all our specialty products, we want to carry that, too, so we can serve the local community."
Tangiers' lunch counter, with a lineup of sandwiches, meals, salads and spreads, has long been a staple for Mediterranean-food fans in the region. The full menu has carried over to the new market, with falafel, gyros, chicken and kefta kebab sandwiches; entrees like chicken curry with chickpeas, lima bean stew with lamb and baked stuffed eggplant, and house-made baba ghanoush, tabouli salad and stuffed grape leaves. The food is priced at $3 to $10.
"It's really delicious, it's healthy, and it's reasonably priced. It's a great sandwich, great lunch," Latif said. "I think people just are looking for that healthy alternative, outside of burgers, pizza and Mexican food."
In the future, Tangiers may look to expand beyond Hartford, Latif said, but the family wants to settle into the new market and get the word out to customers in the city. "For now, we’re happy with what this is and we’re looking forward to building this...We're looking to reach new people every day. We’d like to have everyone try our falafel."
Tangiers is at 550 Farmington Ave. in Hartford. It's open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information: 860-233-8168, tangiersmarket.com.
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