The South End of Boston is one of the city's hottest neighborhoods for restaurants, with some of the area's best (and most popular) dining spots found along its bustling thoroughfares. But this doesn't mean that there aren't some lesser-known spots in this charming section of Beantown. While many folks rarely venture away from Columbus Avenue, Tremont Street, Washington Street, and Shawmut Avenue (the streets where most of the most popular eateries are located), a few restaurants do reside on the roads further away from the Back Bay and closer to the Central Artery/Southeast Expressway, such as Harrison Avenue and Albany Street. This latter street has next to nothing in the way of dining spots, but a restaurant does exist there, and it's a good one--a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern place named South End Pita.
Located on a rather dusty and somewhat desolate stretch of road that has not seen the development (and gentrification) that other parts of the South End have taken part in, South End Pita seems an unlikely spot for a restaurant. But it really is not far from the heart of the South End--or downtown Boston, for that matter--and is only a block or two from a booming section of Harrison Avenue that includes artist studios, spacious lofts, and the popular SoWa Open Market. The eatery is housed in one of countless brick buildings that make up this part of the neighborhood, and while the exterior of South End Pita gives the impression of being just another sub shop or takeout joint, the interior is actually quite comfortable, with curtained windows, a wooden floor, artwork along the walls (including a mural above the ordering area), and the type of high ceiling that one tends to see in the old brick buildings around this area. The restaurant is counter-service only, which makes it popular for takeout, but a handful of tables allow customers the option to dine in.
South End Pita features mostly a mix of North African and Middle Eastern dishes, with lunch and dinner served on weekdays, and lunch offered on Saturdays (the place is closed on Sundays). Starters include a freshly-made vegetarian lentil soup and a decent Greek salad that comes with a tangy house-made dressing. Main dishes include a crunchy green falafel with cilantro and parsley; an ultra-smooth hummus that is fairly heavy on the garlic; a similarly smooth tahini that has just a hint of a sour taste; a wonderful freshly-cut chicken shawarma (the meat is golden brown in spots and seasoned perfectly); tightly-packed and minty-flavored stuffed grape leaves; and a delicious tabouli that has less of an onion taste than some of the others that this writer has tried, and has a bright, earthy taste coming from the lemon juice, mint, and parsley used in it. Beef eaters can choose from kafta (seasoned ground beef mixed with onions and parsley), beef shawarma, and, for those who might want more "American" dishes, burgers and meatball subs. The rice pilaf could use a bit more seasoning, but it goes well with many of the aforementioned dishes, as does the crisp grilled pita bread. Baklava is a dessert option, while beverages include beer and wine as well as Moroccan tea and a carrot mango drink.
Albany Street isn't exactly "restaurant row" and will never, ever, be mistaken for Tremont Street, but because of that, South End Pita is a nice alternative to the trendy, "hot" eateries nearby that often have long waits, even on weeknights. And with its relatively cheap prices, easy parking (typically a number of metered spaces are available along the street), and unpretentious overall feel, this dining spot offers quite a different experience from its competition a few blocks away. It may not be the best restaurant in the South End (or the best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant in Boston), but South End Pita is certainly worth a try if you're looking for a quick bite to eat in Boston's South End.
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