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Pita Grill - Timberlyne, CH

I was really looking forward to the opening of the Pita Grill in the ill-fated space that was J.J.'s Deli. I love middle eastern food and it would be really nice to be able to get my fix without having to truck down to the Mediterranean Deli.

Long story short, I'm still going to have to make the trip to Franklin Street. I stopped at the Pita Grill for lunch and ordered a falafel wrap and a side of grape leaves. If you're going to open a middle eastern casual restaurant, these are things you should have nailed from Day One. Unfortunately, the falafel were mushy and under-seasoned; the humus that came in the wrap was so bland as to be unnoticeable; and the fries that came with weren't worth eating; there was also no tahini sauce, nor did I see any on the menu. The grape leaves were actually nicely flavored, but some of them were undercooked, giving one the mouth-feel of raw rice. Prices were also high compared to Med Deli or Baba Ganoush: the falafel was $8.50 including fries.

It's a shame, but I won't be back there unless maybe they get featured on one of those restaurant makeover shows.

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  1. I really miss having Baba Ganoush in the Courtyard in CH. And i'm not a big fan of Med Deli (I realize I'm fairly alone in this feeling, but I think their falafels are pretty bad). Thanks for letting us know about Pita Grill - shame it isn't better.

    32 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Actually, the falafel is about the only thing I don't like at Med Deli. Almost everything else they do (that I've tasted) is good to excellent. Baba Ganoush definitely has the best falafel around, IMO. Although I seem to recall that Int'l Delights had very good falafel as well, it's been a long time since I last ate there.

      1. re: Remsleep

        gosh I don't like Med Deli either, their felafel is ghastly. Hold on as Kipos is expanding to the courtyard for casual gyros, etc. So I'll pray I can get delicious Israeli type felafel.

        1. re: Rory

          Wow, I thought I was the only one. It would be fantastic if Kipos started doing falafel (and doing them well).

          1. re: LulusMom

            Not really a Greek thing, AFAIAA. I'm sure if Kipos decided to sell them they would be good. I've been very impressed with the food there.

            1. re: Remsleep

              As have I. Apparently there have been some shake-ups/problems with staffing, but I have to say that I've been really happy with all my meals there (I think I've been 7 times now). One thing that bugs me is that they are still doing that "would you like to try our spanikopita?" thing as if it is a freebie, and then charging you for it (something like $6). They need to make it clearer that you'll find it on your bill. But that is really a small quibble (especially if you ask or read this board and know about this). The wine/drinks are great, the food is usually very good, and the service is friendly and efficient.

        2. re: Remsleep

          I'm only a casual falafel-ist, but I am partial to the Mediterra Grill's (on Erwin Road) casual Lebanese, and falafel. Do those more knowledgeable have an opinion, as in how does it compare with other places?

          1. re: walras

            The best one is your favorite one. :-)

            Seriously though, I live in Raleigh so I'm not familiar with any of these restaurants, but the major difference between falafels that I notice is whether they are "green" or not. Some are made mostly of fava beans (which I don't like but the Spouse does), others are chickpea-based (the ones I like). The green could also come from a super-abundance of parsley, another thing that is not to my taste but is to others'. Beyond that, you're looking largely at differences in spicing and that is a highly individual preference.

            1. re: rockycat

              There is also sometimes a textural difference; some fry them to the point of being almost hard, some are soft and crumbly.

              1. re: rockycat

                My wife usually gets the falafel when we go to either locations of Neomonde...

                Speaking of which is it Neomond or neo-mon-day?

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Okay I know my falafel; it should be made with raw chickpeas, fava beans are for ful (fab egyptian bean dish). The green colouring is the fresh herbs, a real must, people have different mixes but cilantro, parsley are in there, when fried it shouldn't be hard but it musn't be crumbly either. Falafel is actually quite hard to make, I tried at home and gave it up as a lost cause...
                  Yeah it isn't a Greek thing but I'm hoping Kipos Jr. will do it as it's the one thing NYC has that the Triangle doesn't: Israeli falafel places with all those toppings: hot sauce, pickles etc. And it would be very popular.

                  1. re: Rory

                    I'll nitpick a bit just because I have too much time on my hands. Ful is absolutely made from fava beans, yet the Egyptians generally also make falafel from fava beans. Some Lebanese use a mix of fava beans and chickpeas, some use all chickpeas. The Neomonde family is Lebanese. I have no idea about the owners of any other restaurants.

                    And just a pointless sidebar since I brought up Neomonde. Not that long ago I had a discussion with the owner about the differences between the food at Neomonde and what I ate along the Lebanese border. He did say that the recipes had been altered some to suit the American palate. I like Neomonde quite a bit, regardless. Just thought I'd stir the pot a little 'cuz, like I said, too much time on my hands.

                    1. re: rockycat

                      Hey rockycat, I love learning new things, so thanks for explaining & found this article from NRP that people might enjoy
                      http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012...

                      I love Claudia Roden's cookbooks; she's Jewish from Egypt and has written about lesser known Jewish cooking from Iran, Azerbaizan etc....So now I'm hungry. I'd also love for Kipos Jr. to make Shashouka, oh that's so good!

                      1. re: Rory

                        Janna Gur's Book of New Isreali Cooking is also quite good and has a few Shashouka recipes that I have made in the past. I enjoyed what I made more then the Shashouka from the tourist trap Dr. Shashouka in Yaffo.

                        http://www.jannagur.com/108704/Shaksh...

                        1. re: chazzer

                          chazzer, thanks so much for the Janna Gur rec, Rosh Hashanah is so early this year and I'd like to cook something different, I'm definitely trying her shashouka recipe.I really appreciate it. I've never been to Israel, if you can believe it; must go....(though 'Dr. Shashouka' is a scream)

                          Meant to say, Med deli in Chapel Hill is owned by a Palestinian, but the food now sadly is kinda faux generic...

                          1. re: Rory

                            Do you have the cookbook Jerusalem? It is really awesome. Definitely worth adding to your collection.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              ooh, have heard about him, will check that out, thanks tons LM!

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                There was a NY Times article about the Jerusalem cookbook this week, I have both the Jerusalem and New Isreali Cookbook and use both, they are both very good.

                                1. re: chazzer

                                  chazzer what are you making for the holidays? I'm going to look them over at the library...

                                  1. re: Rory

                                    Our only plans are for my wife's Brisket and Soup and maybe some type of beet dish.

                                    The Jerusalem book has good rice dishes, salads and the couscous tomato and onion dish is very good. Kubba with soup is one of my favorite things to eat in Jerusalem both books have recipes, but it is not the easiest thing to make.

                                    1. re: chazzer

                                      I haven't got the book, but several recipes from it are available on the interwebs. I'm especially fond of the fattoush recipe, which is great in the summer.

                                      1. re: Remsleep

                                        Just got Jerusalem, truly an amazing cookbook! I'm dying to make osso bucco steaks with prunes and leeks for the new year, but I have a feeling that's too adventurous, maybe quail with tamarind. I love that there are complex and simple recipes...must make the quick lemon pickle, shashouka, spice mixes and the spicy fish recipe.

                                        1. re: Rory

                                          So glad you got yourself such a wonderful gift Rory. I know you'll have fun with it.

                                          1. re: Rory

                                            The chicken with arak is very good, you can sub ouzo for arak if you can not find it.

                                            1. re: chazzer

                                              thanks again LM, it really is full of wonderful recipes. @chazzer oh great idea, I appreciate the rec no end:)

                                        2. re: chazzer

                                          The pop up shop in Durham at 9th Street did a very nice representation of Kubba I thought.

                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                            I noticed that they were doing Kubba, all the Kubba I have had have been filled with meat how did they handle it as vegetarian?

                                            1. re: chazzer

                                              It was the first one they did and I can't remember. Maybe it was potato like a pierogie? I'll double back and find out.

                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                    great article, she's the one who had the falafel challenge with bobby flay and discussed how difficult it really is to make well.

                                      2. re: Rory

                                        Can you explain faux generic?
                                        Also why do you consider falafel hard to make?

                                  2. re: rockycat

                                    Thanks for that helpful info. As apparently, we had a supposed Falafel expert in the thread.

                      2. Try hummus cafe on east Franklin. They opened this week...haven't been, but menu is impressive.

                        1. I love Med Deli BUT I don't get their Falafel cause I can that nearby at Baba Ghanoush. The other items I've had were tasty. I've not been to Pita Grill (no relation to Pita Pit I imagine) and don't plan to based on the feedback.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Wait, did Baba Ghanoush move back to CH??? I'd be thrilled with this news.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              I'm also a fan of BG. They have the best kabobs in the area. The chicken and ground lamb are sublimely tender and flavorful. I go to the BG at Erwin Square near downtown Durham, which is a quick drive from Chapel Hill.

                              1. re: bbqme

                                Thanks bbqme. Lulu's school is in Durham, so once that starts again maybe I can occasionally do carry-out from BG on the way home. I really do miss their food. And I'd love it if they'd come back to CH.

                              2. re: LulusMom

                                No there is on close to me on Hwy 54 near Shiki sushi

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  I don't know Shiki Sushi, but is that kind of near where 54 and 55 meet?

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      Huh, I need to look them up on the inter-nets and find out which is closest to me. You all have me craving a falafel.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        I read in today's news that there's a new Mediterranean place on Franklin St. in CH that serves falafel. Its called Hummus Cafe.

                                        http://www.heraldsun.com/business/x13...

                                        1. re: ToothTooth

                                          Huge news. I hope it turns out to make decent ones - if so, they'll have a lot of my business. Thank you so much.

                                          1. re: ToothTooth

                                            Stopped in there for lunch today. It is everything that Pita Grill was not. Really, really good falafel ($5.95) and excellent grape leaves (2.50, IIRC, but not currently listed on the menu). Portions were generous. I'd rate the falafel as better than the Baba Ghanoush on 54; the one in Erwin Square is better, IMO, but I haven't eaten there in a while, so I'm going to decline a direct comparison with Hummus Cafe. Pretty much zero ambiance, but the tables and chairs work and the TV has ESPN.

                                            Once UNC starts up they should do a land-office business, and deservedly so.

                                            Looks like I'm still forced to go to Franklin Street for my falafel fix, however.

                                            1. re: Remsleep

                                              This is great news - thanks for letting us know.

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                oh yay; double thanks. Got to drop in and pick stuff up.

                              3. For any of you who work on or near UNC campus and want falafel for today 8/20 only.

                                https://www.hugecity.us/events/5167029