Not Hot: Where's the Fresh Pita?
Dear Mr. Gold:
I moved to Los Angeles years ago, and honestly, the only thing I still miss about Michigan is going to Dearborn for Lebanese food. There’s a popular restaurant called La Shish where they serve fresh-baked pita bread. I won’t move back to Michigan, but I would consider visiting solely for this. Could you save me the trouble? Does anyone serve fresh-baked pita here in the Southland? Or if not, is there something, anything, comparable to the mecca of Lebanese food that is Dearborn?
—Kevin Sukho Lee
Dear Mr. Lee:
La Shish, the Dearborn-based Lebanese chain that shut its doors a few weeks ago, rocked, not least for the hot pita, which the waiters baked off in a wood oven in the corner of the restaurant and doled out as casually as they refilled water glasses. (I could do without the owner’s massive alleged contributions to Hezbollah, which led to the shuttering of the restaurants, but this is a food column, not a political page.) Many of the respectable Lebanese and Syrian restaurants in New York City serve fresh pita too. Still, for some reason, hot pita is not really a thing here, even at otherwise splendid Lebanese restaurants like Carousel, Sunnin and Maroush. Some of the Iranian restaurants, notably Flame, have fresh tanori bread baked in big clay ovens, and on weekends there’s fresh, thin sajj bread griddle-baked to order at the Lebanese-Armenian Alcazar in the Valley — try it made into the thyme-scented Arab quesadillas called k’llej.
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