Gentrification is notorious, among other things, for bulldozing beloved old watering holes and restaurants. You can still hear the lamentations of former regulars of Tim’s Tavern (now Coda Bar and Kitchen), Triple D’s (now the Alchemist Lounge), and the Littlest Bar (razed to make way for luxury condos). In fairness, Coda and the Alchemist are fine if rather fancier places, but those condos really chapped my hide: they killed not only the sui generis Littlest Bar, but also Pita Kabob, a tiny, wonderful Persian joint. Thankfully, Pita Kabob has found a new home on the other side of Downtown Crossing near the Hyatt Regency.
A brighter, larger space than its previous shoebox, the new venue is still mainly take-out with a standing-only counter. American-style breakfasts (omelets, egg sandwiches, bagels, muffins) and lunch sandwiches (roast beef, tuna salad, etc.) are available, but the compelling reasons to visit are the beautiful Iranian-style kebabs. Chunks of chicken breast, beef tenderloin, and farmed salmon are marinated overnight, then grilled to a gentle char and juiciness that only the most skillful kebab-makers can attain. These are served as a sandwich ($5.75–$6.75) in pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tahini, or as a platter ($7.25–$9.50) with al dente basmati, pita, and either shirazi “salsa” (salad of diced tomato, cucumber, onion, and mint in lemon juice and olive oil), yogurt/cucumber/mint salad, or iceberg-based garden salad.
Other options include falafel ($5.25/sandwich), grilled vegetables ($5.25/sandwich; $6.45/platter), and a magnificent kubideh, a sublimely seasoned grilled meatball with perhaps minced onion and a hint of sumac ($5.50/in pita; $7/platter). I say perhaps because the owner, when asked what’s in his kubideh, responds only with “Ground beef” and a suspicious glare. I nod in understanding: his kebab recipes clearly are trade secrets worth protecting.
Pita Kabob, located at 2 Avenue de Lafayette (entrance around the corner on Chauncy Street), in Boston, is open Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 4 pm. Call 617.542.7482.