Tuesday, May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024
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Restaurants & Bars

Albaghdady Makes Phenomenal Iraqi Bread

This hole-in-the-wall bakery in Richardson is a treasure.

I stopped because I noticed the flow of traffic, in and out of two narrow parking spots, each marked by a sign urging “bakery parking only.” Wedged next door to Tareq’s Hair Styles salon, Albaghdady Bakery and Café holds court, a steady but necessarily small flow crossing the threshold of the tiny bakery where there is barely room to turn around.

Here, Salah Hassan quietly turns out his wares.

Immediately past the front door, you’re confronted with a staggering, appetizing display of filo dough in all its forms, crinkled into walnut-filled purses or layered and tucked around pistachios and oozing with honey.

Hassan has a greying beard and eyes that smile. Beside him at the register is just room enough for one tall stool. In the back, behind the case of sweets, I’m drawn to the sight of an enormous tray of what looks like billows of whipped cream. It’s the pastry cream that will go into the stuffed sweets called lady fingers.

But what I’m here for, what I was hoping for when I saw the evening line and walked in the door is the bread: big round shields, warm and fragrant, cousins of the finger-dimpled afghani flatbreads I’ve missed since I moved away from Fremont’s Little Kabul in California.

It’s here: Iraqi naan. I see it going into the tandoor oven in the back, eased like pizza crusts onto a peel, then thrown into the oven’s maw with a deft motion that slaps it against the oven wall. A shield-sized flatbread emerges, pale blonde with a moon’s surface of bronzed bubbles. The dough, enriched with milk, has a pleasantly complex and nutty flavor that comes from flecks of bran. You receive it over the counter, folded in half, tucked into butcher paper, still too warm to eat.

“He’s a professional in our country,” says the man who came in just before me and is now shuttling between the counter and the open trunk of his SUV with platters of baklava. How many people and pastries can we fit into this tight vestibule? A final armful of bread and he’s off with a smile and a wave.

Hassan’s father was a baker; he himself has been for 50 years, he says.

The football-shaped, taper-ended flatbread loaves called samoon are here, too, delightful in their freshness and loft, ready to be stuffed with all kinds of things or served with olives, a fattoush salad, and olive oil. The humble spot makes kefta sandwiches and other savory bites. Regardless, the draw is those breads, fresh from the tandoor oven, fluffy rounds that ensure you leave with your arms full.


Eve Hill-Agnus

Eve Hill-Agnus

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Eve Hill-Agnus was D Magazine’s dining critic from 2014-2021. She has roots in France and California and during her time at D wrote…