Pita Pouch - Falls Church, VA
Those who are not in the know would be quick to pass over this hidden treasure, which is naturally sandwiched in-between a nail spa and a sketchy hookah shop. With plain white signage and vinyl lettering on their windows, Pita Pouch blends in well with its neighbors. Once past their misleading drab doors (perhaps meant to keep out eaters that are not yet worthy), and inside their pearly white gates of SE heaven, it becomes clear that Pita Pouch is far and away the best kept secret on the block.
Pita Pouch oozes luxury. Elaborate crystal chandeliers glow regally over opulent marble tables. Piles of basmati rice and cannellini beans simmer in brightly colored Le Creuset pots. A wide selection of toppings wait enticingly in pristine white serving trays atop immaculately packed crushed ice.
The SE eyed the spread hungrily and took a moment to appreciate its splendor. Upon spotting a mob of soccer moms and their offspring making their way through the doors though, The SE moved quickly to the counter to place an order. There, The SE discovered that for a mere $9.95 (why does this sound so much better than $10?), eaters get their choice of meat/carb base + UNLIMITED TOPPINGS. Yes, really.
The SE opted for a chicken shawarma bowl with rice and cannellelini beans. Moving on to the unlimited toppings, The SE reeled in a touch of restraint and went with a respectable amount of lettuce, red cabbage, hummus, and whipped garlic paste. All bowls come with a fresh ovenbaked pita and are served on vintage tin lunch trays.
The SE picked up the lunch tray and grabbed a seat at the closest table. A bite of the thinly sliced chicken revealed it to have a rich, savory depth that can only be achieved after being grilled for hours on a spit. The cabbage and lettuce added a crunchy snap to the beans and humus, providing a pleasing contrast of textures. Not to be forgotten is the whipped garlic paste, the perfect lemony-garlic companion to any meal.
The true star of the meal was the falafel, which are made to order. The batter is spooned out by hand and lightly fried. A warm, flaky crust encapsulates the perfectly moist mixture of ground chickpeas, onion and spices. A quick dunk in the whipped garlic paste elevated each bite of falafel, a delicious cloud of garlic chickpeas and spices.
Glancing around contentedly, The SE was convinced that this was what all fast casual eateries should aspire to be - fresh food, marble tables, and crystal chandeliers. One can hope.