Main and William has a history of world cuisine in an unleaded milieu. A decade ago, Marnee Thai opened with picture windows affording diners a great view of cars refueling at the BP gas station next door. Now there’s a Middle Eastern food counter at the back of the BP itself.
Usually gas station fare gets no better than Munchos. But despite the toss-off name and bizarre location, Eata Pita offers surprisingly authentic, tasty, well-prepared Middle Eastern sandwiches, salads, soups, and entrees. Its “special falafel sandwich” (overflowing with lots of creamy hummus and tangy tabbouleh) is exquisite, competing for best-in-town honors with Jerusalem Garden’s longtime best-seller.
There’s no place to sit while you wait for your food, so you stand by the pop display with a good view of the tiny kitchen. The chef works fast, but doesn’t cut any corners.
The tabbouleh–loaded with fresh onions, tomatoes, and parsley–is so fine and garlicky that it still was superb two days after it came home and sat in the fridge, which is really extraordinary for this item, known to quickly go limp and soggy. Tabbouleh is one of my reliable tests for judging Middle Eastern food, and Eata Pita’s passed with flying colors. My “small” was massive, and a real bargain at $3.50. I imagine the “large” could feed a party (and Eata Pita does cater).
I sampled the pretty standard Middle Eastern menu in a couple of takeouts and one delivery. The chicken ghallaya entree (other places transliterate it as ghallaba) came to my door gooey with tomatoes, onions, and a few mushrooms. It didn’t look at all appetizing wrapped in foil in a foam shell, but it was actually delicious, if perhaps a little too tomato-stew-like for some palates. And it was accompanied by a boatload of nice crispy french fries.
The rest ranged from passable to pretty good: smooth but ordinary hummus, an oily but yummy stuffed-grape-leaf pita, a bland and mushy lentil soup, a rather dry kafta sandwich, a fresh but uninspired spinach pie, and a “mecanik sausage sub” advertised as spicy but not very (with a sesame bun playing the “sub” part).
If not all best-in-town contenders, the things I tried were all way better than typical gas station food. And if all you want is a quick lunch or convenient take-home dinner, you won’t pay extra for ambience you can’t eat.
If you like to multitask, fill your tank while you wait.
Eata Pita, 300 N. Main (inside the BP gas station). No website. Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 302-0330. Appetizers $3.99-$7.99, sandwiches $4.99-$6.99, salads $3.49-$8.99, entrees $12.99-$15.99. Wheelchair friendly.