The fast-casual kebabery’s four locations sport cheery yellow walls that match its friendly and fast service – impeccably flamed shish kabobs and healthy Middle Eastern go-withs come out of the kitchen lickety-split. Grilled meats and seafood are available as a wrap or as an entrée accompanied by a fluffy pile of basmati rice that looks and tastes like an illustration for “Perfect Rice 101.”
All the meats are marinated for maximum flavor and each is delicious: moist chicken ($7 entrée, $6 wrap), juicy lamb ($10 entrée, $9 wrap), beef filet ($9 entrée, $8 wrap) and a killer ground beef version ($7 entrée, $6 wrap) that makes average burger meat seem wan. The kotlet – a finely-textured, highly-seasoned and quite delicious beef and potato patty – shows up only as a wrap ($6). Falafel patties are available as an appetizer ($4), or in a wrap ($5), but they’re like hockey pucks – not properly crusty outside and tender within like they should be.
Seductively creamy eggplant dip possesses a caramel-like richness cut with a tangy yogurt topping ($5). Usual suspects like hummus ($3.25) and taboule ($4) are eclipsed by the shirazi salad, a jewel-like brunoise of cucumbers, tomatoes and onion in a zippy citrus dressing ($3).
The real stars of the Zaytoon show are the surprisingly authentic daily specials – robust, home-style Iranian food that transcends cultural borders. On Monday, barberry chicken is a mélange of the sweet-tart berries and rice with tender chicken in a tomato-berry jus ($8). Thursday’s succulent lamb shank with dilled rice is a screaming bargain at $10, and deezee, served Fridays and Sundays, translates as a satisfying, earthy stew of lamb, beans and potatoes in a tomato-onion base ($8).
Rich saffron ice cream ($3) is a perfect penultimate punctuation to a great grilled meal – the final is a to-go order of that pita bread.
Zaytoon Kabob Bistro
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Addresses & Phone Numbers: 4757 E. Greenway Rd., Phoenix, 602-354-3663; 4811 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-263-3663; 4804 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee, 480-961-2353; 2949 W. Ray Rd., Chandler, 480-248-8811
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Highlights: Grilled chicken (entrée $7, wrap $6), beef filet (entrée $9, wrap $8), lamb (entrée $10, wrap $9), ground beef (entrée $7, wrap $6), kotlet (wrap $6), barberry rice and chicken ($8), lamb shank ($10), deezee ($8), eggplant dip ($5), hummus ($3.25), taboule ($4), shirazi salad ($3), saffron ice cream ($3)
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