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[Photograph: Josh Conley]

It's not just a clever name—Taza Bakery is in fact a bakery. They churn out fresh naan and wonderful samoon by the bagful; baklava and samosas and lemon-heavy spinach pies for meals on the run. But they also have an entire menu for dining in, featuring a $1.50 zaatar pizza, falafel, kebabs, and sandwiches wrapped in fresh lavash bread.

The secret to the beef shawarma ($5.49) is the Meat to Other ratio, which is about 10:1. You have to really dig to find the fledgling strands of lettuce, scant bits of tomato, and white onion slivers. They are like The Experience to the Jimi Hendrix of the shawarma here, which boasts deep flavors you can only get from a potent marinade. It has a sweetness that immediately reminded me of Korean bulgogi, but here the meat then gets accessorized with olive oil, parsley, and tahini. You get a nice mix of crispy bark and tender middle parts, straight from the spit. Huge and filling, I swore I would take half of it home. But some promises are better left in your belly.

Taza Bakery Inc

3100 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, IL 60659 (map)
773-942-7541
tazabakery.com

Josh Conley is single-handedly trying to re-introduce the verb beget into the everyday lexicon. He traveled to Easter Island one Christmas out of sheer irony. He excises a hefty syntax, and shamelessly promotes the color orange. His wife begat him two small children that he regularly belittles HERE.

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