Restaurant Review: Shish-Kabobs ****1/2 and Pita Place ****

6 Oct

Edit #2 (November 4, 2010): Shish-Kabobs has reopened, and luckily little has changed. The star rating I gave before stands. You can read my update here.

Edit #1 (October 31, 2010): I noticed last week that Shish-Kabobs is temporarily closed and under new management. I will update when I have more information.

Today I want to present to you a two-fer: the delicious Pita Place and Shish-Kabobs. The restaurants are owned by the same husband and wife, and they offer up similar – though not identical – menus to eastside diners. Let’s take them one by one.

Shish-Kabobs
This little Mediterranean gem has been serving up falafel and gyros in Tulsa since 1996. It’s tucked in the back of a shopping center at 31st and Garnett that once upon a time housed a Skaggs (then a Skaggs Alpha Beta, then a Jewel-Osco, then a Skaggs again, etc.). Nowadays, the center is home to a random smattering of businesses, including a Subway next door and a Cato clothing store several doors around the corner.

The menu is pretty standard when it comes to Greek food in a Midwestern town: meaty gyros and tons of vegetarian-friendly dishes (hummus-spelled “hommus” there, tabouli, baba ganoush, falafel sandwiches, etc.). For my money, it’s some of the best in town, too. Their hummus is incredibly creamy and topped with a delectable garlic-oil mixture. However, I can never resist my Mediterranean temptress: the vegetarian platter.

Before you is a vat of rice surrounded by sautéed vegetables (peppers, zucchini, and carrots), two dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), and four falafel with tangy tahini sauce. It comes with a side of your choice from a very long list. My addiction is the baba ganoush served with pita bread:

For the record, I like eggplant exactly two ways: deep-fried and covered with cheese (i.e. eggplant parmesan), which is thoroughly un-vegan, and in the smoky, thick concoction that is Shish-Kabobs’ baba. I don’t like the dish at other restaurants either. There is something about their recipe that is complex, smoky, rich, and out-of-this-world. Also fitting in the latter category is their iced tea (pictured above). It’s dark and spicy, with hints of clove. You must try it. I overheard from the wonderful waitress today that the wife – who runs the location – combines the standard stuff with some of tea they brew up hot usually.

Rating: **** for veggie options and ***** for deliciousness. (See this post for scoring guide.)

Shish-Kabobs, 11605 E 31st St, is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Pita Place
The second restaurant opened about three years ago in Bixby, serving a twist on Shish-Kabobs’ offerings. Their original focus was on, yes, pita sandwiches (including three veggie versions). They have since expanded to offering a buffet during lunch and dinner. For $7.99 or $9.29, respectively, you can shovel in all the usual suspects plus two kinds of soup, salad, fruit, and some kind of dessert (usually a basic cake). While on a quest to eat something healthier than a falafel pita with French fries (which are delicious, by the way), I’ve been enjoying the buffet lately.

Before you is my attempt at plating. I could never be a chef in a fancy restaurant, clearly. Anyway, you are viewing carrots, falafel, hummus, a piece of pita, dolmeh, tabouli, and a bit of salad. And yes, there were seconds on a smaller plate:

More pita, hummus, and falafel, plus pineapple chunks and watermelon. Like its parent restaurant, Pita Place offers amazing hummus – amazing, seriously. I also appreciate the wide array of veggie offerings both on the buffet and on the menu. The only things that bring it down slightly in my estimation as compared with Shish-Kabobs are the baba ganoush (which is not very good at the Bixby location) and the fewer vegan options on the menu, though asking a few questions quickly takes care of this problem. Also, Pita Place lacks the unbelievable iced tea, I guess because it’s run by the husband.
Rating: **** for veggie options and **** for deliciousness.

If you love Greek food and find yourself out east, check out these tasty and friendly spots. If it’s a Thursday around noon, look for me at either one. 🙂

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