Just south of Oklahoma Avenue on 13th Street sits Attari Supermarket, 3042 S. 13th St. On a commercial grocer's scale, the store is tiny -- no bigger than a convenient store.
But a specialized focus on ethnic foods fills its four aisles with interesting items not found at the many Pick 'n Saves around town. It also fills the market with ample customers -- most of who know owners Reziq Attari and Yousef Eld by name, and vice versa.
Attari, which has been open for five years, is difficult to classify. Its brightly colored sign, however, says -- both in English and Arabic -- that it sells Middle Eastern foods, as well as select Hispanic and American goods.
Co-owner Attari says his biggest draws are his meats and homemade pita bread that is so fresh it's still warm when you take it home. But really, you can find just about anything here, from exotic bulk spices to canned Turkish garnishes to totally American items like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Hamburger Helper, thousand island dressing.
The meat counter is often crowded with customers requesting whole chickens, beef and lamb legs, chops and shoulders. His popularity has allowed him to keep his prices fair, despite his niche market. The most expensive item in the deli is lamb tongue ($4.99 / lb.), which Attari says is a popular choice.
At first glance, there appears to be little order to the store. Handmade natural soaps sit next to an array of religious candles -- the ones most often seen in Mexican grocery stores -- which sit next to half an aisle of run-of-the-mill household cleaning products. It's fun to wander around and see what you can find, and if you really can't find it, Eld, Attari or his son are happy to help.
The front counter is cluttered with curious pieces of Middle Eastern culture. There's a cardboard box of tapes of Middle Eastern pop music. Ornate hookahs and incense burners occupy the area near the cash register and various random wall hangings, brass plaques and even a few articles of clothing offer eye candy high above the shelved goods.
For some, Attari Supermarket is a regular Sunday stop to stock up on fresh meats, warm bakery and basic cooking supplies like rice, flour and oil in bulk. For others, it's an excuse to buy cheaply-priced exotic spices, cheeses and vegetables that just might inspire adventurous cooking.
Attari Supermarket is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”