To be honest, I really don’t remember who turned me on to Pita Hut ‘n Grille – it may have been one of the other food bloggers (Lisa or Rosie, perhaps?), it may have been a mention on Columbus Underground, it may have just been word of mouth. All I know for sure is that I’ve been coming here for a while now, and that it’s the darling of food lovers all over town for good reason. And I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t review it. I mean, if it’s good enough that I come here at least once a week, then it’s something I should be sharing with you lot, right? But the truth of the matter of why I hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it yet is much more mundane than that – yesterday was the first time I had actually dined in rather than just stopped by for takeout. We took my mother with us to try it and she chided me for holding out on her.
I’ll just put it out there. If you haven’t been here yet, you *must* go. Even if you’re a vegetarian. Especially if you’re a vegetarian, which I’ll explain further in a little bit.
It’s located in a rather non-descript row of storefronts on High Street, in between Graceland and Morse Rd. Sandwiched between Bob’s Bar, the “cultural hub of the Midwest” and a little carryout shop, it’s one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” locales. However, once you know it’s there, you can’t drive by it without being beckoned by the shawarma goodness that you know is inside. Even when I don’t have plans of stopping there, somehow my car is on autopilot and before I know it, I’m turning into the parking lot.
Inside, the decor is dated, but very, very clean. Spotless, even. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the left, where the shawarma beckons on its vertical spit. Layers of beef, and lamb and turkey are stacked and weighted down, and turn slowly throughout the day cooked by the infrared burners surrounding it.
A lot of people like to compare the shawarma to gyros, but the truth is, there’s a world of difference. Where gyro meat is chopped and formed, this is whole slices of meat in its natural state, with the resulting juices basting the meat beneath as it cooks, and slowly adding flavor that intensifies throughout the day.
If you get the shawarma, you can opt to have it as a sandwich ($4.99, fries are an additional .99) or a platter that includes 2 sides ($7.99). My husband and mother both opted for the platter, which they paired with what we all consider the best hummus in town and a very fresh, summery tasting tabbouleh salad, whose herby notes are tempered by just the right amount of lemon.
If hummus or tabbouleh isn’t your thing, they offer tons of different options, all of which are vegetarian. Among your choices are a cauliflower based salad (with mushrooms, olives, peppers and onions) which has nutty and vinegary notes, and a salad that sort of reminds of a Middle Eastern salsa with tomatoes, onions, cucumber and parsley.
Other salads include this eggplant, mushroom and olive salad, which unfortunately, I haven’t tried yet. Also in the cold case you see some of the topping options for the sandwiches, like pickles, cabbage, and onions.
To round out the cold case, there’s an amazing buttery garlic condiment, decent cole slaw and potato salad, a so-so baba ganoush, chickpeas, tahina sauce, and hot sauce. It amazes me how organized their cold case is – notice how all the spoons are facing the same direction. Everything looks (and tastes) extremely fresh and the pride the employees take in their job shows. Quality control on all their offerings is impeccable. And if you’re not sure about an item? Ask for a sample, and they’re more than happy to give you a taste.
BTW, excuse the glare from the floor tiles in the pics of the cold case items. It goes to show how clean the glass is, if it’s throwing off that kind of reflection.
One of my favorite items at Pita Hut is their falafel, which is an absolute steal at 6 for $1. I opt for their falafel sandwich ($3.49) as often as I do for their meat-based sandwiches, which is saying a lot considering how much I love meat.
Also excellent, although not vegetarian, is their kibbeh ($2), which is flavorful ground meat and pine nuts wrapped in a meat and bulghur wheat shell and then deep fried to crispiness. Paired with the tahina it’s served with, it makes for an excellent appetizer.
On this trip, however, I opted for the shawarma sandwich, in which a soft pita is sliced open at the top only, filled with a generous schmear of hummus, followed by meat, and various condiments. I usually get it “with everything”, which means hummus, tomato/cucumber/onion, pickles, and tahina. Hot sauce (2 different types) is available on request.
This is a sandwich that only gets better as you eat it, as the juices from the meat mix with everything at the bottom of the sandwich, culminating in a flavor bomb that will having you licking your fingers. These sandwiches are downright addictive. Even the fries are great. This is where I first had fries sprinkled with seasoned salt, and it’s now my standard way of eating fries.
On other trips I’ve also had the mixed grill and/or kofta, which come highly recommended. I don’t think I’ve ever really had anything *bad* here, come to think of it.
Long hours (they’re open to 11pm or later every night) mean that unless they run out (which has happened occasionally), you can get your fix pretty much whenever it hits. But don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself why Pita Hut ‘n Grille is one of Columbus’ hidden gems. With plenty to offer omnivores and vegetarians alike, this is one choice that’s bound to please just about everyone.
ETA: As Rosie so kindly reminded me below, if you’re getting at least 2 sandwiches, make sure you use the coupon which will give you a third one free. Here’s the link: Pita Hut Coupon
If you’d like to go: Pita Hut ‘n Grille, 4965 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43214, 614.433.0996