Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-midnight; Sun, noon-10pm
F, G at Carroll St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
9th St. to Atlantic Ave., Third Ave. to Columbia St.
On Smith Street’s strip of much-hyped destination restaurants, Zaytoons is an underplayed neighborhood secret. With its tight quarters, open kitchen, and Marrakesh-via-Mecca décor, it looks like just a prototypical cheap, BYOB Middle Eastern falafel-and-pitza joint. And it is, as far as appearances go. But the excellent food tells another story. As the name implies, the pitzas are pizzas baked on pita-bread crust. They’re good, functioning as a kind of tasty gimmick, but they’re not Zaytoons' strongest feature. That distinction belongs to the standard but totally spot-on Middle Eastern salads, dips, sandwiches, and platters of falafel, shawarma, and kebabs. Each is prepared quickly, but with evident attention to edible detail, consistently well spiced, fresh, and savory. Falafel is fried to supercrunchy delectability; stuffed grape leaves carry a preserved-lemon tang. Despite the classic menu, Zaytoons has a happy presentation quirk: Sandwiches arrive with the ingredients wrapped in the pita, rather than stuffed. The result? A bigger, heartier handful of goodness, and one that’s also easier to eat. No more overstuffed pitas tearing at the seams!Recommended Dishes
Zaytoons’ combo plate, $8.50; shawarma pitza, $7.50; falafel, $4-$6.50