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Goodbye Zankou

alkyd9 May 9, 2007 01:07 PM

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. Chowpatty RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 01:18 PM

    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
      alkyd9 RE: Chowpatty May 9, 2007 01:22 PM

      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
        dtud RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 02:48 PM


        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
          holy chow RE: dtud May 9, 2007 02:55 PM

          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
            alkyd9 RE: holy chow May 9, 2007 03:11 PM

            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

        2. re: alkyd9
          alkyd9 RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 02:54 PM

          yes, 50cents is too much,

          1. re: alkyd9
            mc michael RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 03:09 PM

            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
              CynD RE: mc michael May 9, 2007 03:51 PM

              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
                Sharuf RE: CynD May 29, 2007 02:25 AM

                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
            dkrocks RE: alkyd9 May 11, 2007 09:05 AM

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

          3. re: Chowpatty
            Josh90004 RE: Chowpatty May 9, 2007 03:44 PM

            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. m
            mc michael RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 01:20 PM

            You had me worried there for a minute.

            1. notmartha RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 01:22 PM

              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
                Jack Flash RE: notmartha May 10, 2007 11:04 AM

                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
                  katkoupai RE: Jack Flash May 10, 2007 06:33 PM

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

              2. boogiebaby RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 01:24 PM

                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. o
                  Oh Robin RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 01:38 PM

                  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
                    Vegasbuff RE: Oh Robin May 9, 2007 02:55 PM

                    Yes, Juan Pollo has great chicken.

                    1. re: Vegasbuff
                      laliz RE: Vegasbuff Apr 1, 2011 12:35 PM

                      Juan Pollo = great chicken + GREAT potato salad

                  2. MeAndroo RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 02:10 PM

                    Weird how the food prices go up but they shirts are still about $4. I still wear mine to the gym :)

                    Maybe I'm just used to paying 8 bucks for a meal, what with eating lunch in downtown LA everyday, but even with the price increases at Zankou, I think it's still worth it. Sure, I used to be able to get a couple of the chicken wraps and a soda and be out of there for about $6, but what can you do? The garlic spread is just sooo goood. If I think of the garlic (I got 2 containers for a tarna plate just last week, btw) as costing $1, I don't feel so bad.

                    1. n
                      nosh RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 03:32 PM

                      I am a big Zankou fan, but I can understand both points of view. Yes, it is still a comparatively good deal. And the OP orders the most expensive quantity vs. price selection -- a half-chicken is a much better deal, and a whole chicken (even split between two people) is even better. And the dark meat in Zankou's rotisserie chicken is never dry like the breasts can be, and there is all the more tasty crispy skin to pack in your pita.

                      But we tend to get annoyed when something we are used to receiving for free now costs a surcharge. That is why grand-opening specials or coupons can backfire -- what do you mean asking me to pay $$ for what I used to get for $? And I have never been treated rudely at the Sunset/Normandie location or the newer one in W.L.A. on Sepulveda where a couple of the old veterans transferred. I've never been charged for an extra pita or particularly an extra garlic spread if I asked nicely, though the policy may have tightened up more recently.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nosh
                        kevin RE: nosh May 10, 2007 04:41 PM

                        do they have the tshirts at the sepulveda location?

                        1. re: kevin
                          sel RE: kevin May 10, 2007 10:17 PM


                      2. Das Ubergeek RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 03:58 PM

                        So would you prefer that the price just go up on the dish itself? The prices are going to rise, that's a given. They can either "tax" the people who want the extras, or they can "tax" everyone.

                        You're doing the right thing, in any case -- if you feel it's too expensive, vote with your feet -- but even I can't think of too many places that offer the same quality of food at a lower price.

                        1. monku RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 04:28 PM

                          Unfortunately the fast food restaurant biz its all about the nickels and dimes....literally. They're lucky if they make a 10% net profit. Their costs on everything has gone up and keeps going up. Freight charges on chicken has probably gone up because of fuel costs. I was surprised to find out that at Tito's Taco they pay $10/hour (40 hr week + overtime) and benefits because they always need help. The extra charge for pita and garlic sauce is a way to control food costs and customers who might abuse their generosity.

                          I was a Zankou fan but realized the rotisserie chicken at Costco for $4.95 is just as good if not better and bigger. Just have to figure out how they make that garlic sauce--(garlic and mashed potatoe flakes? maybe its garlic juice?) Even though its at Costco and they inject the chickens to make them moist its a darn good chicken. Years ago when there was only one Zankou I asked the owner what they seasoned the chickens with and he said just salt and pepper.

                          Other day I went to Carnitas Michoacan and noticed an extra charge for another salsa cup. I go to Eastside Market and get the meat platter and it says "roll not included", but the owner or one of the sons always asks if I want a roll with it and they throw it in no charge.

                          All about who's running the store. That cashier is the cashier because she's watching the money for the owners.

                          You're within your right to walk out and go where you feel the best value is.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: monku
                            nosh RE: monku May 9, 2007 04:54 PM

                            I asked years ago at the Zankou on Sunset at Normandie and was told that the garlic spread was simply mashed garlic and lemon juice.

                            OMG -- a charge for an extra salsa roja thimble at Carnitas Michaocan? The one on North Broadway that has the best in the city? What is an "extra?" -- I could go through three or four per burrito (al pastor, without beans). Last time I was there (after Sunday dim sum in Chinatown) I ordered two burritos to go along with a little cup of salsa roja that cost an extra buck -- great investment, not for the little thimble-size but for a small cup with three or so ounces.

                            1. re: nosh
                              alkyd9 RE: nosh May 9, 2007 05:38 PM

                              I just had the most delicious Shwerma at Mediterranean Café in Pasadena. $7.50 tax included. Better than Zankou, cheaper than Zankou. Once again, Goodbye Zankou. Family run, very nice & great quality. Patio has tables with great view of San Gabriel’s. Zankou always smells of bleach. YES, they have the tasty garlic spread also found at Z. Only draw back, they close at 6:30pm.

                              1. re: nosh
                                monku RE: nosh May 9, 2007 06:12 PM

                                Zankou sauce....I never tasted a hint of lemon in it.

                                Yes, Carnitas Michaocan on N. Broadway. I was there Saturday, I've seen the sign there for a while. I think the sign said the extra was either 25 cents or 40 cents(weird price if that's what it was)--I'm assuming maybe it was for the thimble size. One is plenty for my burrito. I'm sure if you wanted a couple extra thimbles they wouldn't charge you. They include it with everything Mexican they serve.

                                I think the "extra charge" posted at some places is to deter people from abusing the establishments generosity.

                                1. re: nosh
                                  tony michaels RE: nosh May 9, 2007 06:22 PM

                                  Link to post on Home Cooking re. duplicating the Zankou garlic paste / sauce:


                                  1. re: nosh
                                    sassille RE: nosh May 9, 2007 06:24 PM

                                    I love Zankou but mostly for the extras. I replicated the garlic spread for a family event by combining homemade yogurt cheese and fresh garlic and a little lemon. It was a hit.

                                  2. re: monku
                                    SeaCook RE: monku Jul 5, 2010 04:22 PM

                                    The garlic sauce is supposedly only olive oil and garlic. I have seen a recipe in my Armenian cookbook .You can purchase a very good similar garlic sauce in a tub of it at the Good Food Market on the corner of Washington and Allen in Pasadena. for $2.99.

                                    1. re: SeaCook
                                      elnora RE: SeaCook Mar 7, 2011 07:59 AM


                                      garlic sauce!!!

                                  3. s
                                    sambrown3 RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 06:50 PM

                                    Please tell me that you are not complaining about paying "well over $7" for dinner! Sounds like a fast food place is where you should dine.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sambrown3
                                      alkyd9 RE: sambrown3 May 9, 2007 07:27 PM

                                      no sambrown, you not getting it.

                                      1. re: alkyd9
                                        sambrown3 RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 10:09 PM

                                        Yes, I do get it. I'm looking at the big picture here. How can anyone bag on a place that serves freshly prepared food, for a really good price? You are bummed that they charge .50 for somthing extra that does not come with the meal. They absolutely should. It costs them money to buy it.

                                    2. f
                                      Faulkner99 RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 07:35 PM

                                      I'm on Team Zankou on this one. As far as deals go, I think theirs is decent. Good food that is enough for me plus leftovers is a bargain when it's under ten bucks. I can sympathize that they have operating costs that have to be covered, and reasonable price increases aren't going to discourage me from bringing home the occassional chicken meal.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Faulkner99
                                        quartzcity RE: Faulkner99 May 17, 2007 04:39 PM

                                        I'm also with Team Zankou. While waiting in line, I see that most people ask for extra garlic and so Zankou has two choices - increase price overall to account for all the extra garlic people ask for, or else charge extra for it. All of these other comments here are typical Chowhound crybabies.

                                        A Zankou is within walking distance of my workplace so expounding on how place x or y is superior is good information, but not necessarily practical.

                                      2. techbod RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 10:11 PM

                                        Here's what we're gonna do. Everyone needs to NOT buy Zankou Chicken on one day this month. Then, by slashing demand, together we can force the Saudi royal family (or Mr. Zankou, anyway) to lower their prices. Because it's all about supply and demand in this world. If we all team up, then we can prove that demand wields just as much power as supply in the global marketplace (or the chicken shack).

                                        Then, when we've driven Alky's chicken dinner back down to $6 or even $5 dollars, we can take a victory lap. Power to the people.

                                        Oh. Wait. That's how we're supposed to drive down GAS prices. Not CHICKEN prices. I guess you're on your own. Good luck, and I'll have a side of mutbaal with my tarna plate, please.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: techbod
                                          Diana RE: techbod May 11, 2007 09:01 AM

                                          Yeaah..that worked so well for lowering gas prices :)

                                        2. m
                                          mlgb RE: alkyd9 May 9, 2007 10:36 PM

                                          Of course you can get cheaper food. Be sure to factor in the gas cost for driving all over town while you check them all out.

                                          Zankou: Love the skin, love the garlic sauce, love the turnips. You can have my extra pita.

                                          There's a Lebanese place downtown inside the Bonaventure, called Olive Branch, he charges less for his chicken lunch special but no turnips. He makes some nice salads, though.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: mlgb
                                            Liquid Sky RE: mlgb May 10, 2007 06:59 AM

                                            mlgb: At Olive Branch, do they have a great garlic sauce? (I live downtown... very curious!)

                                            1. re: Liquid Sky
                                              mlgb RE: Liquid Sky May 10, 2007 07:44 AM

                                              Yes, with the chicken special plate. And pita. No turnips, though.

                                              He's next to the pool deck, adjacent to the brewery restaurant.

                                              Also I love the "Thyme Herb Pizza" served with lebneh. It may not be listed on the menu board but he makes it to order.

                                              Although the menu depends on which brother is working!

                                              1. re: mlgb
                                                Liquid Sky RE: mlgb May 10, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                I can do without the turnips. Thanks!!

                                            2. re: mlgb
                                              BruinEric RE: mlgb May 11, 2007 09:49 AM

                                              Bwahahaha -- perfect reply. Hey -- I _AGREE_ with "voting with your feet." If I don't like a place because of something small such as having to retrieve a key to use the restroom, wanting free drink refills, etc. then that's my choice.

                                              But "just 5 min down the 110" = 10 min of driving round trip = at least .2 gallons of gas = $0.70 = that extra pita with $0.20 left over.

                                              1. re: mlgb
                                                kek is khmer RE: mlgb May 11, 2007 11:57 AM

                                                I love that place. I thought I was the only that knew about it. The owners are really generous and the food is good.

                                              2. j
                                                Jack Flash RE: alkyd9 May 10, 2007 10:59 AM

                                                They'll always give you one extra pita bread gratis. They only charge if you want more than one extra.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Jack Flash
                                                  Josh90004 RE: Jack Flash May 10, 2007 03:33 PM

                                                  Another nickle and dime action I noticed at the WLA branch: charging extra if you get mutabal instead of hummus with the chicken plate. Not sure if all the branches are doing this. Oh well, whatever.

                                                2. c
                                                  chefthisguy RE: alkyd9 May 10, 2007 06:30 PM

                                                  c'mon now....with inflation these things can't just be given away...yu will notice in all restaurants price increases due to corn feed and ethanol issues to frost, freezes, fires and all sorts of climatic changes....plus Zankou chicken is okay...give me some pitas and I will go to vons and buy one of their cooked birds.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: chefthisguy
                                                    lebdog RE: chefthisguy May 10, 2007 08:08 PM

                                                    Just had lunch at Zankou this week. I think the pricing policy is fine; I just don't think the food is worth this much discussion. There are at least two middle-eastern places in Pasadena that I think are better. One's the Lebanese Kitchen on Washington east of Hill (really good combo platter for $10 and "sandwiches" but no chicken). The other's a little dump also on Washington (near Altadena) that has excellent kabobs and a good, if unspectacular, "Greek" salad. Go for the $6.99 whole chicken special.

                                                    1. re: lebdog
                                                      MaryT RE: lebdog May 10, 2007 08:39 PM

                                                      The sign says Shish Kebob and Falafel Express, my phone book says Shish Kebob Express (just down from Eggroll Express and Domenicos). The baba (moutabal for some of you folks I guess) and lamb kebob are tasty, the falafel is at least above average, but you have to remind them you want tahini. Very generous with the pita more than I can ever eat at least. Nice woman, does a lot of catering. She's invited me into the back a couple times to taste a batch of something she's cooking up for an event.

                                                      1. re: MaryT
                                                        MaryT RE: MaryT May 10, 2007 08:41 PM

                                                        Oops sorry I meant to add, Lebonese Kitchen is like Ceasars around the corner -- inconsistent. (I just had lamb kebobs at Sahara though, and for the first time they were actually just a tad overdone, after dozens of times I guess they have the right to fail once.)

                                                    2. re: chefthisguy
                                                      mc michael RE: chefthisguy May 11, 2007 01:58 PM

                                                      Exactly, Jamba has added a $.25 surcharge on all smoothies made with OJ.

                                                      1. re: mc michael
                                                        writergirl RE: mc michael May 17, 2007 07:05 PM

                                                        My problem with this sort of thing, when businesses add a charge "due to an increase in the price of whatever" they NEVER lower it again (I know, shocking.) Starbucks did this a few years back, raised the price because of some temporary problem with the coffee trade, and when that problem ended, the price didn't go down. Just as I'm sure when the next orange harvest is a bumper crop, Jamba won't lower the prices. Clearly they can charge what they want, I just hate that they blame it on market forces.

                                                        1. re: writergirl
                                                          JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: writergirl May 29, 2007 02:49 AM

                                                          You obviously don't go to Jamba Juice much. Next to the things with OJ, there's a little sticker noting the price bump. Once the supply goes back to normal, they take the little sticker off and the price goes back to what it was.

                                                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                                                            writergirl RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester May 29, 2007 09:36 AM

                                                            You're right! I never go to Jamba Juice, (I'm not a big fruit shake kind of gal.) but I totally applaud them for doing that. Very cool, and sadly, too uncommon.

                                                    3. o
                                                      oldusedcop RE: alkyd9 May 11, 2007 10:00 AM

                                                      C'mon folks:
                                                      If 50 cents is too much, perhaps you can't afford to eat out. As for Pollo Loco, their prices also have changed upward, while the quality certainly varies from stagnant to downward.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: oldusedcop
                                                        mlgb RE: oldusedcop May 11, 2007 10:46 AM

                                                        Two breasts, wing, tortillas and two sides at Pollo Loco without drink, will run $7.57, more or less.

                                                        The quality of the grilled chicken breasts is excellent, generalizations notwithstanding.

                                                        I like Zankou as well, btw. But I do think Pollo is a better value.

                                                        1. re: oldusedcop
                                                          bo_burger RE: oldusedcop May 11, 2007 11:44 AM

                                                          Yeah, extra sauce used to be free, but think about how much a slice of cheese on a burger or sandwich costs you. 50 cents ain't a dollar at least.

                                                          I will gripe that the quality of the sauce as been very iffy (or at least inconsistent) for awhile now.

                                                          1. re: bo_burger
                                                            Liquid Sky RE: bo_burger May 17, 2007 08:34 AM

                                                            I just yesterday had my first visit to the Zankou on Sepulveda. Probably my LAST Zankou visit.

                                                            I had the chicken wrap. The person working there assured me that there was garlic sauce already in the sandwich.

                                                            When I bit into it, the chicken was just soooooooooo dry. They are so CHEAP with their sauce, it's unbelievable.. What was that... 1/8th of a teaspoon?

                                                            I hate when people chintz on a major ingredient like that. I'm going to seek out that place in the Westin Bonavenutre instead, which another Hound mentioned.

                                                            No thanks, Zankou. You clearly need to re-think your product!

                                                            1. re: Liquid Sky
                                                              Ernie RE: Liquid Sky May 17, 2007 12:16 PM

                                                              The Sultan in the downtown LA jewelery district is good too for roasted chicken with garlic sauce

                                                              1. re: Ernie
                                                                Pakkai RE: Ernie May 17, 2007 01:00 PM

                                                                One and Done.
                                                                Ordered to go for the family.
                                                                We read the hype and gave it a go.
                                                                The chicken was dry DRY.
                                                                Maybe they had an off night.

                                                                1. re: Pakkai
                                                                  Liquid Sky RE: Pakkai May 17, 2007 01:01 PM

                                                                  You're talking about Sultan, right?

                                                                  1. re: Pakkai
                                                                    Ernie RE: Pakkai May 17, 2007 01:24 PM

                                                                    I've only been to Sultan earlier during the lunch rush so it is probably best at busier times

                                                                    1. re: Pakkai
                                                                      aceofcakes RE: Pakkai Jul 5, 2010 04:07 PM

                                                                      I tried Sultan too and it was a real disappointment.

                                                              2. re: oldusedcop
                                                                BeenThereAteThat RE: oldusedcop Jul 15, 2007 02:07 AM

                                                                Can you imagine what this guy tips when (if?) he goes to a restaurant with waitstaff?

                                                              3. okie RE: alkyd9 May 17, 2007 04:51 PM

                                                                I *finally* got around to trying Zankou and while I can't speak to trends (food quality or pricing), I can say that I loved the meal.

                                                                I ordered the Tarna plate and although it did seem a bit pricey (around $8 or so) I quickly realized I was going to get two meals out of the serving.

                                                                The chicken was moist and tasty and of course, I loved the garlic sauce. Because there was so much meat, I did run out of pita for the second go-round. Still, I mixed the sauce with the chicken and it was delightful.

                                                                I think next time around I'll have some TJ's pita on hand and just bring the whole thing home.

                                                                1. brattenheimer RE: alkyd9 May 17, 2007 04:56 PM

                                                                  Personally, I don't think that the location in Pasadena is 1/2 as good as the one on Sunset. Nor does the Pasadena one offer as many sides or combos.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: brattenheimer
                                                                    highforpie RE: brattenheimer May 17, 2007 05:30 PM

                                                                    I have never been to Zankou as of yet so I can't talk specifics, but when you can buy a whole bag of pita bread for 35 cents at Persian and Jewish markets, 50 cents for one piece is excessive even when considering necessary price increases... in a realistic world. However there are so many overly priced side orders and such when you go out that I have just come to expect it. If having extra pita or sauce or whatever with my meal will make or break the meal, I'll always order it, even if I know the price isn't "technically" worth it, since it will be worth it just for my enjoyment of the meal. Hopefully I can get to Zankou soon to judge for myself!

                                                                  2. g
                                                                    gnarlex RE: alkyd9 May 17, 2007 05:42 PM

                                                                    Hadn't been for over a year. Tried the 'fancy' Zankou in Burbank last weekend, and thought it was better than Glendale. Delicious new tabbouleh, chicken was super moist w/crisp skin, eggplant dip and hummus were not too salty or too lemony, and the garlic sauce came in new plastic cups with sealed foil peel-off tops. Not dirt cheap but completely reasonable and v. good quality.

                                                                    1. handycrafter77 RE: alkyd9 May 27, 2007 07:27 PM

                                                                      Well, I still like Zankou and still go there even with the price going up and all. Life is just pricier now, it's something we all have to get used to. This year minimum wage went up as well and so many resaurants prices went up with it through out the year. Some did it right away and others months later. Next year, minimum wage will go up again and it woudn't surprise me that restaurant prices go up as well. Even when I go to the market now, food is pricier so I can only imagine it must be pricy for restaurants as well.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: handycrafter77
                                                                        risottoman RE: handycrafter77 May 28, 2007 10:32 AM

                                                                        All fast food places have been raising prices. Pretty soon $5 won't be able to buy much. $10 is the new standard for "cheap" meal nowadays, especially in LA. We're just going to have to get over it. Anyways, as for Zankou, they're still on the cheap side, and their chicken is still very delicious. I've stopped going there for shawerma because it's way overpriced.

                                                                        As for the garlic sauce, I've always thought it was just mashed garlic, a bit of lemon juice, and vegetable shortening...probably why it's so delicious (and unhealthy too haha)

                                                                        1. re: risottoman
                                                                          FrankDux RE: risottoman May 28, 2007 02:31 PM

                                                                          Always had a distaste for Zankous. The food is decent, but dry chicken + oily hummus and terribly rude service folks is not my speed.
                                                                          For affordable chicken on the westside I'm still a fan of california chicken cafe. Their 8 piece is $5. They encourage you to do the meal deal for 8-piece plus two sides for $13, but I'd rather order them separately, $5 for the 2 sides and $5 for the chicken.

                                                                          1. re: FrankDux
                                                                            nosh RE: FrankDux May 31, 2007 09:54 PM

                                                                            To say that California Chicken Cafe is anywhere near as inexpensive as Zankou is ridiculous. There is no way they offer 8 pieces, a whole chicken, for $5. Show me where you got this price, please.

                                                                            1. re: nosh
                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: nosh Jun 1, 2007 07:08 AM

                                                                              Last I checked, it was a quarter chicken for $5. That's two pieces -- a breast and a wing, OR a leg and a thigh.

                                                                              1. re: nosh
                                                                                Ollie RE: nosh Jun 1, 2007 09:37 AM

                                                                                You do! you get 8 peices of dark meat...when available for well....$5.75. It's one of their best sellers, look: http://www.californiachickencafe.com/...

                                                                                You're welcome!

                                                                                1. re: Ollie
                                                                                  Das Ubergeek RE: Ollie Jun 1, 2007 10:15 AM

                                                                                  Hm, that's a good deal... though I have to say, the "eight pieces with two sides" is really stupid. Why not just buy the two sides instead of paying $8.75 for the "deal"? Unless you're getting pints, it's no kind of deal whatsoever.

                                                                        2. Al Bondigas RE: alkyd9 May 28, 2007 10:36 PM

                                                                          Ya gotta be kidding. Restaurants are in it for business. It's a livelihood, not a hobby. As a business owner we have double the expenses that non-business owner have. Wake up and smell the garlic sauce.

                                                                          I tell you what, I will send you the extra 50 cents for the year. That comes out to $26.00 a year if you go once weekly.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Al Bondigas
                                                                            holy chow RE: Al Bondigas Jun 1, 2007 08:21 AM

                                                                            I say this as a peer ... preach it, brotha.

                                                                            Sometimes I think people are delusional in the skyrocketing costs of this market. When was the last time you went grocery shopping and spent less than $100? For me, it was a long time ago. With the increased costs and taxes Zankou has no choice but to charge for what you are consuming. If you ask for extra anything it shouldn't be taken out of profit, it should be charged for at a measured rate.

                                                                            Come to my house for dinner and I'll give it to you free; come to my business and you will pay for what you request of me and my staff.

                                                                          2. o
                                                                            Ollie RE: alkyd9 Jun 1, 2007 09:30 AM

                                                                            I just want service from Zankou without rudeness! Hollywood is the worst! Was just there last night! I've been to Sepulveda/Valley location as well. Same sh*t, it's as if it's a prerequsite for working there. I'm sorry they hate their job, or me not being of "their culture", but we're the reason they're in business & so successful! I'm not going back despite the good chicken....not great....I'm positive they won't miss me. Have any chowhounds experienced "service with a bad attitude" @ Zankou or am I putting out a bad vibe when I walk in this "less than fine" establishment?

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Ollie
                                                                              sel RE: Ollie Jun 1, 2007 09:36 AM

                                                                              I go to the Van Nuys Zankou often and have never had any issue with service. Sometimes friendly, sometimes just neutral, kinda businesslike, but never rude!

                                                                              1. re: Ollie
                                                                                Jack Flash RE: Ollie Jun 1, 2007 11:27 AM

                                                                                I've had spotty service at the Hollywood location on more than one occasion (and I went a relatively long time before venturing back, but ultimately I gave in because I like the food). Two different times, I called ahead because I wanted to order one of their kebab plates, which are cooked to order and therefore take a while. Both times, when I got there, they had completely ignored my phone order and never bothered to start preparing the food. Of course, the whole reason I called was so that I didn't have to sit around & wait 15-20 mins. It happened twice. I was extremely annoyed.

                                                                                1. re: Ollie
                                                                                  notmartha RE: Ollie Jun 1, 2007 12:20 PM

                                                                                  Never had a problem, but we went to the Anaheim or Pasadena branches.

                                                                                  1. re: Ollie
                                                                                    Liquid Sky RE: Ollie Jun 1, 2007 04:51 PM

                                                                                    Totally agree with you! That's why I will not support Zankou or Bay Cities!!

                                                                                  2. jonahlee RE: alkyd9 Jun 1, 2007 12:33 PM

                                                                                    I personally love Zankou. It may not be the best food, but it is pretty damn delicious.

                                                                                    My biggest question is the difference between the Hollywood one, and all the others in the chain. If you check out the Zankou web site, the Hollywood one is not listed, and it has different (cheaper) prices. I think I paid 50¢ for an extra bag of pita bread just last weekend. Also at the other ones the garlic sauce now comes sealed in a litle package, well not at the Hollywood one, it is in the same plastic container with a plastic lid. Not only that but the chicken just seems so much jucier at the Hollywood location. And I like the charm of the board with the push on letters, and only having photos in the window. Did the Zankou family have a fight and split up or something?

                                                                                    Still the Burbank one is good, because you get a free waffle cone at Creme De La Creme, which is an awesome Gelato and frozen place they opened next door.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: jonahlee
                                                                                      katkoupai RE: jonahlee Jun 1, 2007 12:42 PM

                                                                                      I was bummed out when I noticed the garlic sauce is sealed and seemingly pre-packaged. It's good to know at least one of the branches does it the old way.

                                                                                      I still like Zankou, too.

                                                                                    2. jimverbose RE: alkyd9 Jun 1, 2007 07:18 PM

                                                                                      I used to own restaurants, and I gotta weigh in on Zankou's behalf. No one likes change, I always hated like hell when I had to raise prices -- but whoever said the margins are thinner than you think is dead on. Yeah, some restaurants are money machines, and Zankou's menu & service formula is certainly designed to maximize efficiencies. But food cost is really volatile, and wage creep is inevitable.

                                                                                      I'm not defending all their choices, I'm just saying -- it's still not a bad deal.

                                                                                      There's a new place on Allen at Queensberry (just south of Washington) that's pretty good, by the way. Family run, Armenians from Moscow who are very friendly and eager for business. I've only been a couple times, but the food is solid and there's a wide selection of "mediterranean" options. Prices are pretty cheap.

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jimverbose
                                                                                        tony michaels RE: jimverbose Jun 1, 2007 07:49 PM

                                                                                        "There's a new place on Allen at Queensberry (just south of Washington)"

                                                                                        Would that be Allen at Queensberry on the Westside, Eastside, Southside, Northside, Orange County or possibly Ventura?

                                                                                        1. re: tony michaels
                                                                                          sel RE: tony michaels Jun 1, 2007 07:53 PM

                                                                                          Pasadena maybe?

                                                                                          1. re: sel
                                                                                            tony michaels RE: sel Jun 1, 2007 07:55 PM

                                                                                            Yeah. I went back and started googling maps and finally hit it in Pasadena and was coming back to add it to my post but you got there first. Now if you can come up with the name of the restaurant you will have hit the daily double.

                                                                                            1. re: tony michaels
                                                                                              Jack Flash RE: tony michaels Jun 2, 2007 10:57 AM

                                                                                              I'm pretty sure it's Soumarelo. I drive past it fairly often, as my folks live just off Allen (as do I). I should stop in sometime.

                                                                                              1. re: Jack Flash
                                                                                                tony michaels RE: Jack Flash Jun 2, 2007 11:40 AM

                                                                                                Thanks for adding the name. Here is a link to a recent LA board review of Soumarelo:


                                                                                                1. re: tony michaels
                                                                                                  jimverbose RE: tony michaels Jun 3, 2007 06:16 PM

                                                                                                  My bad -- I d'know why, but I was reading this as a Pasadena-centric thread (probably 'cause I live here...).

                                                                                                  And yes, the new palce is Soumarelo. Though, having just read the review linked to above, I'm not sure if the quality's holding up. My main experience there was as they were closing shortly after they opened. The owners made me sample everything, fired up to do my order, were very friendly, etc.

                                                                                                  I'll second the people recommending Sahara (on Colorado, east of Allen in Pasadena). Really great charcoal gilled itemsl. Better than most.

                                                                                      2. i
                                                                                        iivisionii RE: alkyd9 Jun 8, 2007 12:50 AM

                                                                                        I see everyone here mentioning that they are charging for extra garlic spread. How about the one little container they always gave? They didn't even give me that one and wanted to charge for it. It left a bad taste in my mouth that they would do that.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: iivisionii
                                                                                          jonahlee RE: iivisionii Jun 8, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                                                          At which one was this? And what did you order? It comes with the plates, but not the wraps at most of them I know, but they always give me one with a plate.

                                                                                          1. re: jonahlee
                                                                                            iivisionii RE: jonahlee Jun 8, 2007 03:22 PM

                                                                                            Well, i ordered the chicken tarna plate and when i got my order and asked why it doesn't have garlic she pointed at the sign. When i took it back i saw they gave me the wrong thing (Tri-tip plate) so i had them exchange it and still got no garlic, but i didn't ask this time because i assumed it doesn't come with the plates any more either. Is it just that they forgot the second time around?

                                                                                            1. re: iivisionii
                                                                                              iivisionii RE: iivisionii Jun 8, 2007 05:23 PM

                                                                                              Sorry forgot to mention it was the west la branch on sepulveda

                                                                                              1. re: iivisionii
                                                                                                jonahlee RE: iivisionii Jun 9, 2007 06:02 AM

                                                                                                I have always been given it with the Chicken Tarna plate at the Burbank branch, and the Hollywood one as well.

                                                                                          2. tatertotsrock RE: alkyd9 Jun 9, 2007 08:07 AM

                                                                                            You say you are a foodie but it is obvious you've never really worked in the industry...now, I'm not talking as a server...ever owned a rest?...ever managed one?
                                                                                            Now a days, it'snot just the cost of the food that is gettting everyone in the industry...there are now so many more bizrre charges coming into play. The packaging for "to go" containers is crazy now a days and so much pressure to use eco friendly packaging is causing prices of these items to go up in urealistic ways.
                                                                                            Now, extra charges for extra items not usually offrered with the ordered item is sometimes do to prep...to maintain freshness and to avaod waste (not a cheap choice but an eco friendly choice-who wants to throw out perfectly good, unused food that you and refuse to reuse the next day to ensure freshness/quality) some places only prep enough sides to pair with the correct item.
                                                                                            Now, haven't you noticed, gas prices suck!!! Think about it, are you a business owner?
                                                                                            There is the trickle down effect...the trucking industry that is delivering the produce, the meats, the packaging, now have to hike up their prices to the restaurants to cover the higher fuel bills, now, it's being passed on to us.
                                                                                            No one likes it, but it is the reality.
                                                                                            No, I'm no longer in the food industry but many of my friend's are.
                                                                                            I am a business person who provides specialty services that require me to drive around town quite a bit. I recently had to raise my prices to cover the gas costs and all of my clients understood...but then, they happen to be very successful, condsiderate, self-made business people who respect and value quality as much as a good deal.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: tatertotsrock
                                                                                              jimverbose RE: tatertotsrock Jun 9, 2007 04:59 PM

                                                                                              Just to chime in, there's an industry term called the "Q" factor. It's the markup you tack onto every item you sell to cover the miscellany -- say, $.50 per entree for napkins & ketchup & butter & bread & whatever the hell your particular restaurant uses but doesn't directly charge for.

                                                                                              You can pay knowingly or unknowingly, it's just a question of how the cost is allocated. Like with any other business, the truth is that you never ever get anything for free and never have. The fact that Zankou has decided to "show their hand" by explicitly charging is probably a sign that they really, really don't want to raise prices on their entrees again, but need to cover that cost in some way.

                                                                                              Unless it's naked grab for more profits. But they're competing at the "bargain" end of the spectrum, I suspect they wouldn't annoy their customers by raising prices unless they felt compelled.

                                                                                            2. g
                                                                                              gdtobme RE: alkyd9 Jun 9, 2007 10:44 PM

                                                                                              Yes, I agree that the Pasadena Zankou cashiers are so rude an inconsiderate, El Pollo Loco is more of a bummer since they no longer give tortillas for free unless you buy a meal. Come on, how much is are a couple of fricking tortillas. I think EPL sucks bigger time than Zankou for charging extra. Get real, it's extra. At least you get something for free. EPL gives you nada.

                                                                                              1. jonahlee RE: alkyd9 Jun 18, 2007 04:50 PM

                                                                                                I went to the Burbank Zankou again today, and can confirm that the plates do come with a free container of the garlic sauce (as my breath can attest). You have to pay an extra ¢50 is you want one with a wrap, but it comes with the plates.

                                                                                                I am still wondering if anyone knows why the Hollywood one is different, and isn't listed on the Zankou web site. Did the family have a falling out or something?

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: jonahlee
                                                                                                  LuigiOrtega RE: jonahlee Jul 15, 2007 07:03 AM

                                                                                                  Mild falling out-
                                                                                                  Mardiros Iskenderian, 56, founder of the popular Zankou Chicken restaurant chain, shot and killed his sister, Dzovig Marjik, 45, and his mother Marjarit

                                                                                                  Though I Still love that chicken

                                                                                                  1. re: LuigiOrtega
                                                                                                    Normal Garciaparra RE: LuigiOrtega Jul 16, 2007 12:56 AM

                                                                                                    Each of the Zankou locations is owned by one of the family members.

                                                                                                    If you go to the Zankou Website, the original Hollywood location is not mentioned in the site, even though it's open for business. The previous post lends itself to an explanation why.

                                                                                                    As for "rude service," couldn't that be attributed to cultural misunderstanding by Chowhounders who aren't familiar with those of other cultures and go strictly by east coast/middle American cultural standards? Think about it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Normal Garciaparra
                                                                                                      compucook RE: Normal Garciaparra May 24, 2011 10:37 PM

                                                                                                      Rudeness is rudeness the world around. Zankou seems to specialize in counter help who take rudeness to an artform. Tonight's counter service in WLA was particularly offensive. They couldn't have cared less. For so-so chicken and pretty good shwarma, I think we will visit only when there's no other choice!

                                                                                                    2. re: LuigiOrtega
                                                                                                      jonahlee RE: LuigiOrtega Jul 17, 2007 10:34 AM

                                                                                                      Oh wow, well that certainly explains it. So the family doesn't get along too well anymore huh? Or at least with the founder. Damn!

                                                                                                      Yes, it is great chicken though!

                                                                                                  2. c
                                                                                                    captainhits RE: alkyd9 Jun 6, 2010 05:09 PM

                                                                                                    LOL thats what we call creating our own destiny. You get what you pay for.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: captainhits
                                                                                                      granadafan RE: captainhits Jul 6, 2010 10:09 PM

                                                                                                      Did you really bring back a thread from 2007? LOL. Just kidding.

                                                                                                    2. a
                                                                                                      aventinus RE: alkyd9 Jun 6, 2010 09:23 PM

                                                                                                      And then what happened?

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