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May 9, 2007 01:07 PM

Goodbye Zankou

I went to Zankou last eve, ordered my usual (same for 25 years): #4 (breast/wing) 3 pita 2 garlic sauces, to go. When the Pasadena branched opened this used to cost $5, they did not charge for the extras. Over the last year & half I've notice the price creeping up, so it was now costing me slightly over $6, still cheap enough to considered a good place for the price. But not last night, a little sign was posted on the cash reg: extra pita & garlic 50cents each! When the always rude cashier rang up my order it was well over $7. I promptly snatched my 10 spot back from her & headed straight for the door - GOODBYE ZANKOU. I am a foodie who's on a quest for quality & price, heck I'd just as well head over to El Pollo Loco by PCC. Using a coupon, one can eat delicious grilled chicken for $3. But no, I was in the mood for Middle Eastern food, it was getting late (8:35pm). So, I drove right by Pita, Pita, because it is not good either. I went there about 2 years ago, ordered the chicken shewerma, it arrived uncooked, rare chicken, no kidding. I pointed this out to the man behind the counter. He took a bite of it from my plate by using his hands & rudely proclaimed “that’s how we make it”. He was willing to do it over, but that was enough – out the door. I thought about the Mediterranean Café mention here, but as usual it was closed. As was that wonderful place on Arroyo, Good Times Pita. That was it; off to Highland Park for the best al pastor taco at El Metate on Figueroa, fantastic, far better than King Taco. 4 over stuffed tacos with red onions, terrific salsa & home tortillas, all for $4.50. Seeing two women in la Cocina was a pleasant sight. I’ve always wondered why so many men are cooks in Mexican dives. I really needed that special touch & warmth that I received at el Metate. It’s only 5 mins down the 110. Thanks chowhounds for telling us about this place. Only thing they close at 10pm. It looks rather odd, as there is no sign out front. The menu is hand written up on the wall. Is this place related to el Metate by the Ice House?

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  1. Well, fine, then don't go there, and I'm sure El Metate is good. But it's not really surprising that prices are rising in any restaurants given the cost of gas and inflation. Zankou started out so cheap that it's only now approaching the cost of other restaurants. And I don't think charging for "extras" is really odd, either -- they've always charged extra for pita, I don't know about garlic sauce, because they've always given me more than enough for anything I order.
    Sorry, but Pollo Loco, while ok if you're desperate, can't hold a candle to a fresh Zankou chicken -- and they don't have mutabal, either.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Chowpatty

      fortunetly, we have several other places for Zankou type food in this city. Don't get me wrong, I like Zankou. They're a little greedy, that's all. Some EPL are better than others. YES, mutabal is far better than pinto beans.

      1. re: alkyd9


        they're a business. they need to make $$ and pay their staff. why shouldn't they charge for extras? and $0.50 is beyond reasonable for pita!

        1. re: dtud

          Agreed. Have you seen the price of employing people these days? What about restrictions on the businesses as a whole (every gov't agency has their hand out)? How about the cost of raising chickens and the restrictions and taxes there? Rent, are you kidding?

          Hello, 1954 has come and gone.

          Hiya Zankou!

          1. re: holy chow

            They give you one pita with the #4, okay the sauce is a premium, worth every cent. But they only give one bread, crazy. I've been a Zankou, devotee since 1982, went to the the opening of the Pasadena one, been every Zankou. Have a worthless T-shirt. Told all my friends - now they just care about getting as much of my $ and giving me as little of their delish menu. Others here have noticed as well. So much for the "chain" - reaction

          1. re: alkyd9

            If 50 cents is too much, then there will be a shakeout. If it's right then either others will increase their prices or go under. It's coming.

            1. re: mc michael

              We had a similar experience with our local lunch delivery place - Char O Chicken - now charging $1 extra each for the little containers of guac and sour cream that used to come gratis with the chicken quesadillas. While I"m not happy about it, I realize the cost of doing business has shot up, and this is one way they're coping. That doesn't make the restaurant owner "greedy".

              1. re: CynD

                They could simply and openly raise their prices, like honest straightforward folks, instead of starting to nickel-and-dime you on things that used to be come-withs.

                I think the sneak-in-the-extra-charges strategy is what is annoying some of the posters here.

          2. re: alkyd9

            I agree.. Zankou is straight slop! many other places to go with fresher not as greasy shwarma, gyros, etc..

          3. re: Chowpatty

            An extra pita with the half chicken plate has always been free, even when they started charging for an extra garlic sauce. Prices have to go up, but i hate feeling nickeled and dimed.

          4. You had me worried there for a minute.

            1. Seems like the OP's objection is really on price. Even a meal at McD's cost a lot more nowadays.

              You know a rotisserie chicken at a supermarket is cheaper...

              2 Replies
              1. re: notmartha

                No kidding. A Quarter Pounder or Big Mac "value" meal will run you well over $5 these days. I'll spend the extra $2 for a much healthier and tastier Zankou meal, thank you very much.

                1. re: Jack Flash

                  Basically, it's hard to get a meal for less than $6-7 these days, no matter where you go.

              2. I went to the Van Nuys Zankou a couple weeks ago and a tarna plate was almost $10! I went ahead and ordered it, but their portions were much smaller (I only got 5 strips of the pickled turnips!). It was good food, but I was disappointed that they've raised their prices so much and cut down on the quantity at the same time. It should be one or the other IMO.

                1. You should try Juan Pollo. Very reasonable Inland Empire/OC rotisserie chain. If only they'd open one in Strong Beach my life would be perfect...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Oh Robin

                    Yes, Juan Pollo has great chicken.

                    1. re: Vegasbuff

                      Juan Pollo = great chicken + GREAT potato salad