Double Delicious

Double Delicious

Pita! Pita! is Perfect! Perfect! for the holidays

12/19/2012

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When you think of holiday dining, do you ever consider Pita! Pita!? I certainly hadn’t until lunching there last week before taking in a double feature (“Frankenweenie” and “Boomer” for $2 each at the Regency Academy 6) with my movie-mate. The very first thing we saw at the restaurant’s entry was a sign reminding folks to order their Christmas tamales for $2.50 apiece or $24 a dozen for beef, cheese/rajas or chicken/rajas.

The next thing we noticed was the Catholic shrine at the intersection of the front and rear seating areas with images of Jesus and Mary. At its base sat a small menorah with Hanukkah candles. I’d always assumed the vividly colored wall painting over the opening to the kitchen of a dancing woman was a belly dancer; but, upon asking, we found she depicted Miriam, sister of Moses, celebrating the drowning of Pharaoh’s army.

Further back, a pewter frame inscribed in Hebrew surrounds a seated image of Solomon; and across the aisle is a colorful continuous narrative poster in WPA style demonstrating the power of working together for the good of society. Other works of Arabic calligraphy dot the walls. Frankly, I can’t imagine any restaurant’s décor illustrating the phrase “Peace on Earth; good will to men” more completely than that of Pita! Pita!

Aside from the advertised Christmas tamales, however, the restaurant’s menu is almost entirely Lebanese, as it has been from its inception a couple of decades back, when it was squeezed in among a bunch of other restaurants on the crowded west side of the block of Fair Oaks Avenue, between Green Street and Colorado Boulevard. Now it's squeezed in among other eateries on the block of Colorado, just inland of Lake Avenue, and is just as able to hold its own against the competition. However, the restaurant definitely deserves more attention than it’s been getting.

After all, Pita! Pita! not only serves pita! pita! with hummus, tahini and meat, but also my favorite — eggplant — in several guises, each better than the last. There’s eggplant stew for $9; spicy eggplant (fried with onions, chili and a light tomato sauce for $9); grilled eggplant with zucchini and hummus in a wrap ($6.10) or salad ($8); and finally baba ghanouj, that extraordinary eggplant/tahini puree suffused with smoke from the vegetable’s roasting, for $4.
Diehard vegetarians can also hunker down to a “renowned proprietary recipe” chick pea falafel ($3.25 for four pieces or $5 in a wrap); tabouli (parsley, tomato, cracked wheat, onion, mint, lemon juice and olive oil — $6.50); stuffed grape leaves ($3 for four pieces); and hummus ($3.75). Or, you can have them all (along with a generous portion of baba ghanouj, lemony rice and pinto beans in the wonderful veggie combo platter ($9). Ask for hot sauce and you’ll get a unique chili and onion blend with more than a hint of ginger.

If Pita! Pita!’s wide selection of vegetarian dishes doesn’t turn you on, you’re probably a carnivore, which isn’t all bad. Carnivorosity, as any Darwinian scholar can tell you, played an important role in evolution. (Yes, Virginia, no matter what those Republicans said, there is evolution!) Those canine teeth, and our appreciation of the aroma of burning beasties over a crackling fire, helped us Cro-Magnons win out over Neanderthals. (Of course, bashing them over the head with rocks when they weren’t looking also helped.)

So, even though the Greenpeace/PETA folks may be telling you not to eat meat, if you salivate at the smell of searing flesh, don’t despair. Pita! Pita! will accommodate! accommodate! and quite nicely, too, though shrimp (with garlic or spicy sauce — $14) and most beef items (New York steak — $14, or filet mignon kabob — $10) are only offered as evening specials.

For the “I only eat lower life forms” contingent, there’s a large selection of roasted marinated chicken plates, served, as are all meat entrees, with salad, rice, beans and, of course, pita for $9.50. They include garlic chicken, chicken kabob, spicy chicken and yogurt chicken. Wraps thereof cost $7.10. And a note to those who frequent El Pollo Loco, Zankou and other local chickenries: You’ll find just as good or better at Pita! Pita! A whole bird with two sides will set you back a mere $13.95.

For true meat eaters, there’s lula (marinated ground beef) kabob. And for heartless consumers of baby animals with no compunction whatsoever, the lamb kabob, lamb roast and lamb stew are all $9.50 and absolutely delicious. Of course, if you’ve confined yourself to healthy, moral and good vegetarian choices, you’ll probably have much more room for traditional baklava ($2). But last week, we were instead seduced by caramelized pumpkin chunks bathed in fragrant syrup ($2).

Pita! Pita! opens its doors at 9 a.m. for early risers who want to start their day with a plate of scrambled eggs with soujok (Armenian sausage) and diced tomato, onions and chili, with roasted potatoes and pita toast ($6.95), or fava bean salad with hummus, tahini, diced tomatoes and a tangy lemon and garlic spiked olive oil dressing for $5.95. And they stay open all day, until 9 p.m., seven days a week.

The breakfast offering of grilled feta and tomato pita at $5.95 is almost enough to get me up and dressed, but not quite. However, breakfast or not, dessert or not, vegetarian or not, nobody can deny that Pita! Pita! serves great! great! food! food!, so try it soon! soon!, preferably during the holidays while tamales are still available at this ecumenical gem. 

Pita! Pita!
927 E. Colorado Blvd., #101
(626) 356-3099
No alcohol/Major cards

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