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Feb 9, 2008 06:45 PM

Village Pita Bakery, Calgary: The best chicken shawarma I've ever had.

Village Pita Bakery is in Short Pants Plaza, 28th SE and Memorial. We stopped there for lunch and I was prepared to get what I always get: a "meat pie," which is actually a Sfeeha, crispy and delicious and cheap- partner and I usually get three and split one (ie, one and half pies each). And they are SUPERB. Well, today I noticed "chicken pocket" ($6.95) on the menu and tried it while partner got 2 meat pies.

Out comes the "chicken pocket" and it looks like a sfeeha but with sliced chicken inside- it was toasted like the meat pies are, folded in half; then the lady behind the counter unfolds it and asks if I'd like "everything." I don't know what "everything" is but it turned out to be diced tomatoes, pickled wild cukes, pickled turnip, hot peppers, and tons of what turned out to be garlic sauce.

Oh. My. God. It was delicious. It was different from any shawarma I've had, in part because the pita was pizza-crust crispy, the pickles added this sublime, complex taste (it didn't just taste of vinegar or whatever despite having three different pickled things), and the garlic sauce was incredible, with a tiny bit of sweetness to it. It was pure pleasure. Next time, I'm getting two.

I've had perfectly amazing shawarma in Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, and at places like Tazza and A&A in Calgary. I've never had any this delicious.

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  1. mmmmmmmmm Shawarma... haven't had one of those for a very long time. Is it better than Falafel King on Stephen Ave??

    Thanks for your review :D

    1 Reply
    1. re: sleepycat

      I love the King, but yes, much better, no contest.

    2. Thanks for the tip! I stopped by and had one of these today. Very yummy. The crispy bread really makes it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Merry113

        ...and you can buy those wild cuke pickles off their shelves too!

      2. Better than Tazza? I'll have to check it out...

        1 Reply
        1. re: laracee

          DIFFERENT from Tazza but given the choice yes, I'd choose Village.

        2. Try the Desert Deli in Forest Lawn. 52nd St., just off 17th Avenue SE.

          Ask for the super chicken, with hot sauce, and sweet sauce instead of tahini.

          I promise you, it's soooo good.

          15 Replies
          1. re: feuerzeug

            A few doors up from the Village Pita Bakery is a little Jamaican pattie place - I ventured in the other day & for $2, i got a piping hot, spicy beef pattie. It was very, very nice indeed. The crust was the oligatory vivid yellow colour, but was very short in texture - perfect. The filling wasn't really that spicy (for my English borought up on curries) taste - but it was vey pleasant.

            Check it out!

            1. re: feuerzeug

              i tried the desert schwarama on the advice of some friends, and have to say that i thought it was average at best. the quality of the chicken was good, however there were no spices in it at all - it was essentially roasted (or even steamed?) chicken breast. they of course give you an option of donair sauce or tahini sauce, but that still doesn't compensate for the bland meat.

              a&a has much better schwaramas.

              1. re: nonlinear

                I know it's a transliteration, but why do you always spell it "schwarama"? That's not even phonetic- I've seen it spelled "shawarma" or in Egyptian places "shawarme." You're the only person I've ever seen who spells it this way- and no this is not a rhetorical question nor is it intended as an insult, I'm honestly curious.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  I meant "shawerma" at Egyptian-owned places, like Sammy's :-)

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    i have no idea why, probablly because i'm trying to be quick and that's just how it comes out of my fingers. i guess i never even noticed it wasn't phonetic until you mentioned it.

                    why are always you so damn anal about everything? :)

                    1. re: nonlinear

                      Just the way it comes out of my... fingers. :)

                      I thought maybe you were coming from some tradition where it's actually spelled/pronounced that way- which might also explain your tastes or standards. Like of somebody asked where he could get good "doner kebab" I'd know why he was finding our "donair" insufficient.

                      1. re: John Manzo

                        i'm from the US, and grew up eating greek gyros, and then Palestinian and turkish sandwiches in university.

                        all i said was that the chicken at desert deli didn't havbe any spices - and it really doesn't, go there and see for yourself!

                    2. re: nonlinear

                      a and a will be the next stop .. out of curiousity what makes a and a much better in ur opinion. Just wondering :)

                      1. re: chewy_bakah

                        well they're HUGE with nicely seasoned chicken (I've never had any other type there), very nice garlic sauce that sticks around past its welcome and service that you'll either find endearing and funny or obnoxious or tiresome... either way it's a place you should visit at least once, the one on 20th Ave NW I mean.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          i concur - these are some beastly sandwiches. I would recommend getting a small or medium - even if you're a big eater. The first few times I went I tried to get a large and it's just WAY too much food. you end up throwing it out because they don't exactly keep well haha.

                          i haven't had anything aside from chicken there, either. I would definitely go for a falafel sandwich if they were fried to order, but alas they are precooked and nuked like just about every other shop in calgary :(

                          1. re: nonlinear

                            I've never had the nerve to get a large from Jimmy's! A medium has me almost sick from meat and garlic overkill-

                            Nonlinear- have you tried to get some fresh-fried falafel at Tazza? Or short of that, maybe just asking for fresh? I think I mentioned that I've definitely had it fresh at Falafel King but that was at its old location on 1st.

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              hi John,

                              no i haven't! the only place i've had fresh falafel is the jewish (or, israeli as you say haha) place across from chinook. i've never been to tazza, but will definitely check it out.

                              1. re: John Manzo


                                thanks so much for your suggestion. i finally tried tazza today, and although they don't serve fresh-fried falafels, i must say that they have by far the best chicken schwarma i've had in calgary. i used to think jimmy's was the best, but jimmy's are too big and filled with low-quality iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, etc. at tazza all the veggies were super fresh and really high quality. there was a lot of parsley - i think they used this in place of lettuce. the pickles and peppers were awesome, too. unfortunately, i ate it too fast to really pay attention to what was in it, but it was definitely awesome. :)

                                1. re: nonlinear

                                  For me, lettuce (esp iceberg) has no place in a shawarma- cabbage, absolutely, but not lettuce.

                                  It's been a long time since I've been to Tazza- my top picks recently have been Shawarma Station in Kensington (on 10 St NW, NOT Shawarma King on K'ton Rd) and Shawarma Knight by my house, 14 St SW just north of 17th. At S Station I always get their Shish Tawouk, which comes with chicken, a spicy hummous that I've only ever seen at this place, onions, and FRIES (just a couple). It is orgasmic and unique. I love S Knight because of the novel way they make a shawarma: They pit the toppings on a standard round pita, then roll THAT up into a huge thin square "pita" that they then grill- you get all these crisp layers of bread, it all holds together beautifully and texturally I've never had one like it. Good prices too.

                    3. Is the Chicken Swawarma different from the Chicken Pocket? We went in there today and said that we had heard that the Chicken Pockets were really good. The owner, I assume, said,"OMG, We're out." We opted for the steak and cheese pocket instead. It was ok. We had the humous and the fresh pita bread which were quite good. We did buy a meat pie as well but when we got home there was no meat pie in the bag. So we're not sure what tastes like. I've had Shawarma before so I thought I knew what they looked like.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: sleepycat

                        Well shawarma just means "sandwich" so as I understand it, the pocket is the shawarma- I didn't want to title the thread "best chicken pocket I've ever had" :)

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          Hmm... I guess I'll try again and ask for the "Chicken Swawarma". Guess I was confused because there's a huge sign that advertising Chicken Shawarma but the sign inside the store says Chicken Pocket..... I didn't get asked if I wanted everything... we literally just got steak and cheese in the pocket.

                          1. re: sleepycat

                            Did you accidentally order Fattayer instead of a Shawarma? If i were to guess, you got the wrong thing.

                            1. re: yen

                              When we walked into the bakery I said to the owner that I had heard their Chicken pocket was really good. I assumed Chicken pocket was just another name for Chicken Shawarma.

                              Come to think of it.. DH and I suspect it was the Chicken pocket that was missing. We ordered 2 Steak and Cheese pockets, 1 spinach and feta pocket and one meat pie. ( with humous and pita bread.) We got 2 meat pockets and the spinach one. The meat pockets did not look or taste the same and there were toppings in the pockets other than the meat.

                            2. re: sleepycat

                              So DH phoned VPB after we got home and told them that we were missing something and we thought it was the meat pie. The owner said they would replace the meat pie and throw in a free one. After checking the descriptions and what we ordered we discovered it really was the second steak and cheese that we were missing. We went back and identified ourselves to the owner. We asked him specically what was difference between the meat pie and the steak and cheese and he told us that the meat pie was ground up whereas the steak was sliced. Now we understood why the two did not taste the same. He replaced our order of Steak and Cheese which was missing from the original order. But we didn't get anything extra as promised. Since the last time we ordered was the very first time we were there we had no idea what to expect. So when he handed us the pockets they were already wrapped up so we assumed the toppings were already in the pocket. After they brought out the chicken pocket we had to order something else as they didn't give anything extra. I guess the lesson learned here is never go at the end of the day and be very specific about your order and check it before you leave. The advertised Chicken Shawarma on the outside sign is the Chicken pocket advertised in the store.

                              1. re: sleepycat

                                Sounds pretty disorganized! I'm happy we didn't have these frustrations, and I'm sorry to read about your problems.

                                Is there anything more frustrating than getting takeout, coming home and discovering that your order's wrong???

                                1. re: John Manzo

                                  I think i know one thing John - my former room-mate and good friend used to get McDonalds when he was busy. Same thing - the drivethru by his place would routinely miss things, and leave things out. He considered it a game - to see who would win - McDonalds by forgetting something, or him, by catching it before he left?

                                  Anyway, on a particularly day, he orders 9 McNuggets and a Quarter Pounder only to come home and find a Quarter Pounder and an empty box with 0 McNuggets. They remembered the box. But forgot the chicken :)

                                  Needless to say, he conceded victory and never went back.

                                  1. re: John Manzo

                                    I think I must be cursed. I went to Alberta King of Subs to try out the poutine that some have said was quite good. With that I decided to try their Special Sub of the Day smoked meat and steak. The owner packed my poutine and told me to have a nice day. I said to her that I was also waiting for my sub. How does this happen when there are no other customers around and I have a super simple order?

                                    1. re: sleepycat

                                      Lol. Wow. It happens occasionally to me, but this is getting to be a pattern.

                                      How was the poutine? Doesnt sound like you were thrilled with it. I don't like the Subs at AKOS - lousy bread, lousy lettuce. Prefer their sandwiches typically...

                                      1. re: yen

                                        I think there's a conspiracy to irritate me so much I give up on eating.

                                        I liked the cheese curds and the gravy was smooth and flavorful without being salty. There was a mound of gravy so it did make the fries soggy. I think the fries were fried "fresh" but I do think the oil should be changed.

                                        The sub was ok. I disliked the flimsy cheap bread. There was quite a bit of meat in it so I think it needs a hearty bread. Iceberg lettuce is just water so I didn't like that either. It was pretty fresh. I'm just glad that I was awake enough to know that I did not have my sub yet. I could have sworn when I walked in the price for the sub special was $6.95 but when I walked out it was $7.95. When I asked for everything.... one of things the other lady at the counter shook on was a ton of salt on the tomatoe. I had say, "No salt no salt." Who needs that much salt when you're eating smoked meat.

                                    2. re: John Manzo

                                      Yeah it was disappointing to open everything up at home and look at it and ask that's it?? It definitely could have been a much better experience. Live and learn I guess

                                      Now that I have reignited my taste buds for Shawarmas I'm wondering about the other places listed. hmmmm