237-239 W. Read St., 410-462-6200. Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
The 200 block of W. Read St. is one of Baltimore's quaint treasures. Its small shops give it the feel of a village tucked underneath the roar of the city. Zachi Cafe & Gourmet Market is a relatively new resident, moving in last November. It has a few tables and chairs, but when I was there, most of the people sitting were simply pausing as they picked up takeout orders.
The fare is Middle Eastern; it's boldly spiced and much of it is wrapped in pita. The $7.99 kofta sandwich, a Middle Eastern burger, was grilled, covered with cucumber and tomatoes and tucked in two pieces of warm, slathered pita bread. It reminded me, pleasantly, of a beefier gyro sandwich. The Middle Eastern chicken, $7.99, chunks of breast meat cooked with onions, also filled two pitas.
The salads were large and loaded with zing. The Yassin salad, $7.50, a mixture of romaine lettuce, chopped carrots, tomato, red onions, green olives and cubes of queso (a soft cheese) coated with thyme dressing, was a meal in itself. The Aya salad, $7.25, a blend of cucumber, tomato, mint, radishes and red onions, was very minty.
The sweets, such as cheese-filled baklava, $2.99, were baked on the premises.
Best bite: kofta sandwich, $7.99
Also tasted: Middle Eastern chicken, $7.99; Yassin salad, $7.50; Aya salad, $7.25; cheese-filled baklava, $2.99