Food & dining

Moroccan specialties are hiding at this subterranean wonderland

A variety of olives are for sale at Garden Halal Market, a Mediterranean specialty store.

Photos by Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

A variety of olives are for sale at Garden Halal Market, a Mediterranean specialty store.


It’s a scene from another country: You weave your way through a bustling open-air market and duck down a hidden flight of stairs for refuge. There, you find a subterranean wonderland: buckets of olives, shelves of spices, honey, tea, a butcher, and a display of fresh fish. In fact, it’s all in Haymarket, and the shop you have found is one of Boston’s best-kept secrets, Algerian-owned Garden Halal Market. While there are many Mediterranean items to discover here, it’s the North African specialties that set this spot apart, including preserved lemons ($4.99 per pound), which beckon would-be makers of tagines; round, fluffy Moroccan-style breads ($2 each), and the pinnacle of the Garden Halal experience, m’semmen ($2 each). Often referred to as “Moroccan crepes,” m’semmen are large, square, buttery, flaky griddled flatbreads that have about as much to do with crepes as beignets do with commercial doughnut holes. Buy one in the market or you can walk upstairs to the unassuming Garden Halal Restaurant (which moonlights as a pizza place) to eat it hot, drizzled with honey, and accompanied by sweet mint tea ($1). Garden Halal Market, 96 Blackstone St., Haymarket, Boston, 617-723-0888. LUKE PYENSON

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