It’s hard to know where to begin at Babylon Market. The international and Middle Eastern food market on Speedway carries halal meat, spices, candy, pickles, canned goods, fresh produce, prayer mats, dry goods, bulk grains, hookahs, and more, but might I suggest the hummus ($4.99). Bright with garlic and lemon, it’s the creamiest I’ve had.
The hummus, along with myriad other prepared foods, is available at the casual counter service restaurant within the market. Don’t let the unassuming facade fool you. The kitchen behind it produces great quantities of meat, rice, salads, soups, bread, sweets, and condiments. Meats are marinated, rice is vibrant with saffron, salads feature fresh vegetables, but it’s the sauces that tie it all together and make the meal shine. At Babylon, the hummus, tzatziki, baba ghanouge, mutabbal eggplant, and lebni can and should be added to just about anything. Dressed with olive oil and spices, ample sides of the above are offered for $4.99 each, and they are well worth the price.
While Babylon does have a couple of picnic tables outside, the food holds up well to-go, one of the reasons that their catering menu is such an attractive option.
On a recent visit, we picked up the combo platter ($9.99)—two kebabs, one chicken one beef, over basmati rice with grilled tomatoes and two sides. One of the sides, mutabbal eggplant, was smoky, tart, and blended with tahini and chopped green pepper. Similar to baba ghanouge, it was a lovely compliment to the kebabs.
The combo platter also came with pita bread, and I also ordered manaeesh ($1.99). Even though we had too much bread for one sitting, I’m glad I did. The manaeesh—chewy, soft—is like some holy combination of naan bread and a perfect flour tortilla. It’s great for making little wraps of meat and tzatziki, but would be equally good served warm and dribbled with olive oil and zatar.
The fatoush ($4.99), a well-seasoned salad of crisp romaine, red onion, cucumber, tomato, and pita chips, would make a lovely light lunch, or the perfect side to a falafel or shawarma sandwich. We had it alongside our feast, and the lemony tang of the dressing balanced nicely with the grounded spices of the kebabs.
Don’t forget dessert—pretty squares of delicate filo and honey-drenched pistachio ($1-$2) tempt you from a case on top of the counter. It’s hard, too, to pass up an impulse purchase or three. A variety of oils, spices, and grains inspire even the most humble home chef with visions of grandeur.
Babylon Market, it should go without saying, is worth a trip even if you aren’t planning to grab a quick lunch or dinner. It’s a haven for hard to find ingredients, and walking the aisles is an education in Middle Eastern staples. Employees are friendly and happy to point you in the right direction.
3954 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85712
Open 9am – 9:30pm | 7 days a week