The Persian New Year is just around the corner on Thursday (March 21), which means that many Iranian-Americans will also soon celebrate the coming of spring.
For many locals who rely on Middle Eastern markets — specifically Persian markets — to supply them with groceries, baked goods and other assorted supplies, Vienna has several places to buy all of the necessities for parties and family gatherings around the Persian New Year.
These small bodega-like markets are important to the Persian community as they act like microcosms of classical Middle Eastern bazaars. Many of the customers that go to the stores are able to speak in Persian, Arabic and Turkish with one another and get ingredients not common in most grocery stores.
Here are three favorites among Iranian-Americans in the area:
Assal Market (112 Glyndon Street NE)
The first shop on the list is Assal Market. Assal Market is one of the oldest middle eastern grocery stores in the area, having first opened up in 1986. Customers can shop for various meats, nuts, fruits and other grocery essentials for festive dinners and other occasions. Most specifically, Assal offers a wide range of halal meats for kabobs, beef stews, and all sorts of Persian classical dishes.
Yas Bakery (137 Church Street NW)
Located in the heart of Vienna, Yas Bakery is owned by Maryam Tabrizi and has been around since 2003. Yas, which means “Jasmine” in Farsi, offers an impressive amount of many sweets, all of which are made fresh in house daily. Zoolbia bamieh — fried honey pastries — are a stable and customer favorite among the sweets offered.
Shiraz Market (8486 Tyco Road G)
Shiraz Market, owned by Mahnaz Hooshmand and located in the Tysons area, is the largest of the three markets and offers fresh produce, baked goods and a small in-house café with homestyle Persian food. Customers often come in to shop for their groceries and also get a lunch of koobideh kabob with saffron rice. The market also sells a variety of glassware, including Persian teacups, hookahs and other china for decorating and serving dishes.
These stores are not exclusive to Persians or other Middle Eastern shoppers, and many of the people that go to these stores come from all sorts of backgrounds. All the shop keepers emphasized just how glad they are that their stores not only provide essentials to Middle Eastern homes, but also introduce the entire community to their food and culture.
Whether or not you celebrate or know someone who is celebrating the Persian New Year, these stores all offer something new and exciting to all local residents.