Shopping Experience at Iranian Markets in Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina, may not be the first place you associate with Iranian culture and cuisine. Yet we’re lucky to have a thriving Persian community in the Queen City. And one of my favorite ways to get a taste of Iranian culture is by shopping at our local Iranian markets.
Stepping into these vibrant shops provides a glimpse into the ingredients, flavors, and traditions that make Persian cooking unique. Beyond groceries, they also offer imported goods that are hard to find elsewhere. Getting to know the owners and sampling new-to-me items has been an invaluable cultural immersion without leaving town.
If you want to expand your culinary horizons and support Charlotte’s Iranian business owners, join me in exploring three can’t-miss Iranian markets!
Sofra Mediterranean Market and Deli
Sofra is more than just a place to buy groceries – it’s a community gathering spot that promotes education and understanding between cultures. Their expansive fresh produce section includes fruits and vegetables commonly used in Iranian cooking, like pomegranates, oranges, dates, and herbs.
Make sure to pick up:
Dried limes – Dried Omani limes add a unique citrusy note and tenderizing effect to Persian stews and rice dishes.
-Barberries – These tart, ruby-red dried berries are essential to zereshk polo (barberry rice).
Persian spices – Look for advieh (spice mixes), saffron, turmeric, dried rose petals, and more.
Don’t miss their deli case featuring olvieh salad, dolmeh grape leaves, hummus, and other Persian-prepared foods. The welcoming staff will gladly offer you samples to taste before you buy.
Beyond groceries, Sofra sells housewares, books, music, and more. Browsing in this shop feels like a cultural adventure where you never know what treasures you’ll uncover.
Sofra Mediterranean Market and Deli
15221 Ballantyne Village Way, Ste M, Charlotte, NC 28277
Assal Market in East Charlotte is another fantastic spot to shop for anyone keen on Persian ingredients and cuisine. Their shelves are stocked with every staple you need to cook authentic Iranian meals at home.
Fill your basket with:
Persian rice – Assal sells a few varieties like tadig, saffron rice, and Shirazi rice, perfect for soaking up rich stews.
Fresh herbs – Load up on sabzi (mixed fresh herbs), mint, cilantro, parsley and more.
Yogurts- Grab mast-o-khiar (cucumber yogurt) and mast-o-musir (garlic yogurt) for a cooling meal complement.
Flatbreads – Pick fresh naan and barbari to serve alongside kabobs and dips.
Assal also carries excellent-quality pistachios, dried fruits, rose water, sweets, and imported snacks and candies. Be sure to check this month’s sales for great deals.
The friendly owners, Sam and Sara, will gladly answer any questions you have about ingredients or Iranian cooking techniques as you shop.
5200 E Independence Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28212
No tour of Charlotte’s Iranian markets is complete without a visit to Persepolis Market. Their extensive selection of Middle Eastern goods includes all your Persian pantry needs and international staples.
Some of my favorite finds at Persepolis include:
Seasoned rice mixes – Add water and protein to these spice blends for quick, flavorful dishes like Zereshk polo, Loobia polo, and more.
Dried nuts and fruits – Pine nuts, walnuts, raisins, and apricots to mix into rice or serve as snacks.
Tea and sweets – Imported Persian tea, nabat, and gaz for enjoying after a meal.
Books and Music – Pick up Farsi language learning materials, Iranian cookbooks, and albums from Persian artists.
The well-stocked shelves and welcoming service from owner Karen make Persepolis a must-visit market when seeking Iranian ingredients in Charlotte. Be sure to ask for recommendations on any items you aren’t familiar with!
2011 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
More Iranian Shops Worth Exploring
Beyond these three favorites, Charlotte has several other Iranian groceries and shops worth checking out:
Super Persia International Foods
This halal market in Matthews sells Middle Eastern staples like pita bread, hummus, feta cheese, and Persian spices. They also carry Persian music and movies.
Shirini and Market
Stop by this bakery near UNCC for freshly baked naan, barbari bread, and Iranian sweets and pastries. Their freezer has pre-made kabobs and stews, too.
Tanaz Persian Cuisine
In addition to a restaurant, Tanaz offers a small market with spices, rice, snacks, sweets, and more.
Find all the essential ingredients to stock your Persian pantry at Payvand in Pineville, including produce, yogurt, cheese, herbs, and spices.
This Iranian shop sells specialty food items like rose water, dried chickpeas, and imported cookies and candies.
Top Tips For Having a Better Shopping Experience at Iranian Markets in Charlotte
Come with an open mind and a sense of adventure. Trying new ingredients and products is part of the fun!
Ask questions and talk to owners and staff for recommendations. They know their inventory inside and out.
Look up essential translations for labels if you don’t read Farsi. Or take a picture to translate later.
Chat with other shoppers. Fellow Persians can give great advice for using new finds.
Don’t be shy about sampling food items before you buy. It helps discover new favorites!
Seek out seasonal produce and fresh-baked breads for the best quality.
Look high and low on shelves. Treasures hide in unexpected places.
Mix staple pantry items with one or two new ingredients to gradually expand your repertoire.
Buy some Persian music CDs or movies to continue the cultural experience at home.
Keep an open bag or box to gather loose bulk items like spices and dried fruits.
Buy a Persian cookbook for recipe ideas. The owners can recommend their favorites.
Have patience identifying and finding items at first. Familiarity comes with regular visits.
Bring small bills – many Iranian shops are cash-only businesses.
The most important thing is to have fun and view it as a learning adventure! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from staff and fellow shoppers.
Bringing Charlotte a Taste of Iran
Shopping at Iranian groceries and markets is my favorite foodie activity when I want to travel without leaving home. These businesses provide everything needed to cook unique Persian dishes, introduce us to new flavors and products, and strengthen connections in our community.
Next time you want an immersive cultural experience, visit Sofra Market, Assal Market, Persepolis, and other Iranian shops in Charlotte. You’ll come home with inspiration and ingredients for culinary adventures!
Have you tried shopping at any Charlotte Iranian markets? Share your experiences and discoveries in the comments! I’m always eager to learn about new places to explore. Also, check out our Iranian business directory Charlotte, to find your ideal Iranian business.