There’s a first-rate new shawarma restaurant in Plano. And if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, it might not have opened.
We’ve heard many, too many, stories about restaurants closing because of the virus. Pita Town’s story is the opposite. For years, the business operated at local farmers markets in Dallas, McKinney and Coppell, selling freshly made hummus to go in a variety of flavors. But then the commercial kitchen in which the owners prepared their hummus closed because of the pandemic.
At first, all they wanted was a new space for hummus-making. What they found instead, on Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, was a small restaurant ideally laid out to sell sandwiches. So Pita Town moved in, installed vertical spits for shawarma and started cooking, opening its doors Sept. 28. The result is one of the best — and most affordable — sandwiches in Plano.
This $7 beef shawarma sandwich is outstanding. (They also have a chicken shawarma sandwich for $6.) Beef gets sliced off Pita Town’s tower in thin stacks and folded into an ultra-thin version of pita along with tahini sauce and pickles. The bread is slim and soft, but elastic and strong, too, so it doesn’t tear and spill shawarma in your lap. The meat is beautifully seasoned and has great texture; I only got one tiny nub of gristle.
Unlike some shortcut-taking shawarma and gyro spots, Pita Town goes through the laborious process of marinating and stacking thin slices of meat onto the cone by hand, every single day.
“It takes about two to three hours to stack the meat,” says Sara Ammar, who runs Pita Town with her husband and his seven brothers. “That’s after it’s been marinated for 24 hours in the spices. Every morning we stack the meat. We’ve been selling out every single day. We believe in no refrigeration — once the meat is on the skewer, we don’t refrigerate it to use the next day.”
Like all great shawarma sandwiches, though, the whole is greater than the parts by themselves, because of the way simple ingredients play so well together. Salty, peppery, tender beef nestled up with pickles; crunchy onions wrapped in soft bread; creamy, garlicky tahini sauce coating savory meat — all those contrasts sing like a hallelujah course in sandwich form.
My one regret was driving to a nearby park with fries in my takeout box; only a few were still crispy. That’s a common fry pitfall with takeaway orders, of course, but some eateries have solved it by cooking their fries twice or extra-long. Next time, at least, I’ll remember to sneak some in the car.
Ammar and the eight brothers know the food business. Until 2013, when they moved to the Dallas area, they owned restaurants in southern California. Here, the family focused on hummus, which they sold under the appropriate name Brothers Products.
Pita Town’s first brick-and-mortar location is, so far, a surprising pandemic success.
“It’s been busy despite COVID,” Ammar says. “Better than expected.”
She credits long-time farmers market customers with helping to keep the new business afloat.
I’d also credit the food — and the hospitality. When I stopped in to grab a takeout sandwich order, there was one other customer present, and an employee offered both of us free cups of mint tea while we waited for our orders. With little kindnesses like that, and a phenomenal $7 sandwich, it’s no surprise that people keep coming back.
Pita Town, 700 W. Spring Creek Parkway, No. 106, Plano.
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