47: Isam Saed

Asam Saed.jpg
Mabel Suen
Isam and Tina of Middle Eastern Bakery
From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.

Today: A man who's brought a taste of the Middle East to our corner of the Southwest.

Tastemaker 47: Isam Saed

See also: Lebanese Chicken from Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli

At Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli, "When you're here, you're family" isn't just some corporate slogan -- it's a way of life. Owner Isam Saed, who grew up in Nazareth, has made it a habit to personally put a smile on every customer's face. Saed has degrees in physics and chemistry and taught high school in Israel before moving to Chicago, where he once owned a chain of mini-marts. Count your lucky stars, Valley residents, that he's not planning on leaving anytime soon.

"My presence here is like a vacation," Saed says.

I arrived in Phoenix with... my family.

If I was sitting down for dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be...

Tina

My brother, Saleem: He was a phenomenal soccer player and he teaches martial arts. To me, he's my brother, my friend . . . he's like everything.

My cousin Sameer: He used to be a principal at the best school in Jerusalem; he had 770 teachers under him. He tells my mom I'm the best person in his life right now and he misses me so much. He wants to work for me just to be around me. We became good friends just recently.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Middle Eastern Bakery, of course. Because, I'll tell you why, it's not because it's me. It's because I make it an experience. I don't want people to just come in and eat -- you can eat anywhere. But where you eat and you enjoy and you are able to laugh? My friend comes here four times a week and he said, "I have yet to see someone leave your store without a smile on his face."

One menu item this city could do without is... fatty hamburgers.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... Lebanese chicken at Middle Eastern Bakery.

The Tastemakers so far:
100: Tracy Dempsey
99: Craig DeMarco
98: Lara Mulchay
97: M.J. Coe
96: Betty Alatorre de Hong
95: Eric Schaefer
94: Hanna Gabrielsson
93: Shinji Kurita
92: Silvana Salcido Esparza
91: Mike Pitt
90: Christina Barrueta
89: Christopher Gross
88: Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung
87: DJ Fernandes
86: Cullen Campbell
85: Chris Lee
84. Gwen Ashley Walters
83: Tony Morales
82: Lylah Ledner
81: Andrea White
80: Lori Hashimoto
79. Mrs. White
78: Eugenia Theodosopolous
77: Lou & Lovey Borenstein
76: Anthony Patafio
75: Carl Seacat
74: Sacha Levine
73: Sharon Salomon
72: Johnny Chu
71: Susie Timm
70: Jason Silberschlag
69: Gina Miller
68: Cindy Gentry
67: Amy Binkley
66: Dave Anderson
65: Mark Tarbell
64: Marianne Belardi
63: Audrey Lasalle
62: Brandon Gauthier
61: Brad and Kat Moore
60: Denise Clayton
59: Nobuo Fukuda
58: Richie Moe
57: Robin Trick
56: Alberto Della Casa and Letizia de Lucia
55: Farah Khalid
54: Dave Andrea
53: Vincent Guerithault
52: Danielle Leoni
51: Stan Zawatski
50: Maya Dailey
target="_blank">49: Duc Liao
48: Lisa Reinhardt

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Location Info

Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli

3052 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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