One of the things I love about living in Prospect Heights is that we don’t have McDonald’s or Starbucks on every corner. Instead of large chains, there are mom-and-pop restaurants and cafés covering a variety of cuisine types. In that vein, Zaytoon’s on Vanderbilt Avenue is one of my favorite places in the neighborhood to eat in (they have a beautiful backyard garden seating area) AND take out. In fact, I’ve actually raved about their hummus on more than one internet social medium.
I wanted to go with my usual order–the Chicken Shawarma Platter with a side of Falafel–but I mis-clicked and chose the regular Shawarma Platter instead accidentally! Despite my rookie mistake (getting so excited to order that I don’t actually pay attention to what I’m clicking), it was a good day to try something new. And for the dessert lovers out there, you know I didn’t disappoint; I ordered some Chocolate Mousse Cake because that pretty much goes with everything (according to me).
Having ordered pickup from Zaytoon’s before, I knew what to expect and that’s what keeps me going there; they never disappoint. The platter comes neatly packaged with separate sections for the shawarma over rice, fresh salad, and, in my case, babaganouj. You can also choose hummus, but despite my previous ravings, I recommend the babaganouj because it’s perfectly creamy, eggplant-y (a new word!), and a little tangy. The platter also comes with a freshly-made, piping hot pita. If you’ve never had homemade pita right out of the oven, I can say with confidence that you have not lived.
The platter, which is a great value with all those sides, is just the right amount of food for one hungry person. But if you happen to be ordering with a friend, roommate, or pitiful-looking canine (not pictured), the side of falafel is a nice appetizer to share. It arrived hot with sauce drizzled on top, and tasted great when combined with a little bit of pita and lettuce.
And then there was the chocolate mousse cake. Also good for sharing, since it was rich, the bit of dessert was a nice change of pace from my Middle Eastern dining experience. I’m not sure if they make their own desserts or not, but it really doesn’t matter to me when they’re tasty and cheap! Either way, the whipped cream seemed to be fresh and was certainly not Cool Whip. I’d definitely try one of their other desserts too.
My one caveat about Zaytoon’s is that you may have to wait a little while for your food, especially if you’re ordering at a busy time, but that’s how you know it’s being made fresh to order (even if you click on the wrong item). The tasty food, friendly service (in and out of the restaurant), and great value make Zaytoon’s worth the wait and a place you’ll want to order from again and again.
Check out Zaytoon’s menu and feel free to give us recommendations for future orders in the comments.