I had some shopping to do in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood the other day, so when I finished, I went looking for a restaurant offering something vegan for lunch. Luckily, I came across Pita Kitchen. Restaurants serving Mediterranean cuisine can almost always be counted on to have vegan options on the menu, and Pita Kitchen was no exception. Even better, the menu had a "V" in a circle next to every vegan item. Normally, that would make ordering very easy, but because Pita Kitchen had so many vegan options, it took me awhile to choose among them.
I decided to try a few things. I started with the dolmas (hold the yogurt), grape leaves stuffed with rice, vegetables, and spices. I thought the grape leaves were very tasty, just briny enough to go with the delicately-spiced rice mixture. My entree was the falafel hummus plate, which included six pieces of falafel, tahini sauce, hummus, salad, and fresh baked pita. Everything was quite good, but the falafel, deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas, onions, parsley, and spices, was excellent.
Among the vegan menu items I didn't order were baba ghanouge, a mashed roasted eggplant dip; tabouleh, a salad with a base of cracked bulgur; spinach kibbeh, deep-fried balls of ground bulgur, onions, spinach, onions, and spices; spinach pie; various roasted or grilled vegetable platters; and all of the soups (lentil, potato, and something called Freekeh, which is a roasted wheat soup). Clearly, I'll have to take several more trips to Pita Kitchen!
I didn't have room for dessert (as it was, I had to get a to-go box for part of my lunch), but I did look at the dessert menu. I was surprised to see a few desserts with a "V" next to their menu listing that I wouldn't have expected to be vegan, so I thought I'd better inquire.
First, both the baklava and the chocolate baklava indicate that they're topped with a "honey syrup." I asked the owner if honey or butter is used in the baklava, and he said no. They use a sugar syrup and palm oil, so I guess the word "honey" is just used in the sense of being sweet, not in the sense of actually being, you know, honey. Since baklava is one of the things I really miss since I went vegan, I bought a box of vegan baklava to take home. It's not as sticky sweet as regular baklava, but it was a nice treat. Next time I visit the Pita Kitchen, though, I'll try the chocolate baklava.
The other dessert that was marked with a "V" on the menu was the coconut cake, which has as one of its ingredients "vegetable ghee." Since "ghee" generally refers to clarified butter, I thought I'd better ask what "vegetable ghee" is. Apparently, it's an ingredient made from palm oil. The owner of the restaurant assured me that they don't use butter at all and don't even have any on the premises.
Pita Kitchen prides itself on serving healthy, all-natural food, and all of their dishes are made from scratch. They don't use any additives or preservatives. The owner of the restaurant is very knowledgeable about veganism and says that he has many vegan customers.
Pita Kitchen is located at 2989 Arden Way, and their telephone number is 916-480-0560. They don't appear to have a website. Pita Kitchen is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.