133 N. Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos
Pita Guys barely registered at first. I probably mistook it for a Pita Pit, the fast-food chain that seems to open anywhere there might be college students. There’s a Subway franchise right next door, after all, and the Cal State San Marcos campus is just across the freeway.
I’m glad I took a closer look. While it does somewhat resemble a fast-food spot, Pita Guys is actually independently owned and local, started by a pair of brothers a year ago. Like Pita Pit, they lean heavily on the word “fresh” to describe their ingredients and also profess their meats to be both all-natural and halal.
Options basically include chicken, a rotisserie beef and lamb mix, falafel, and vegetables. All are served on a pita sandwich, in a bowl of rice, on a plate with two sides, or made into a salad. The chicken kebab was tempting, but I went with an old favorite, the rotisserie chicken, shawarma.
At $10.69, the shawarma plate is one of the most expensive things on a menu that doesn’t surpass 11 bucks, and it’s served in a foam box container. I opted for baba ghanoush and a simple salad for the sides, over hummus, a parsley-heavy tabbouleh, and shirazi (cucumber and tomato) salad.
The eggplant dip was garlicky and tasty, though given only two small pitas I could hardly finish that and expect to have any bread left to eat with the chicken. Fortunately, rice was also served with the dish, and while the server spooned it into the foam container she offered to top it with slivers of toasted almond. I think that’s the moment Pita Guys won me over.
Now, I have to say the chicken struck me as a little dry and tasted a bit weighed down by cumin and (I think) turmeric. But when eating the chicken and rice together, the almonds added a nice departure from those earthy aromatics, along with a nice bit of crunch and overall charm.
Pita Pit’s sandwiches are probably a little cheaper than the $8-plus versions you’ll find here, but Pita Guys does a take on fast food that’s better for you, whether you’re cramming for a midterm or snacking up before you visit the Lost Abbey Brewery a bit down the road.