There is no greater aperitif than a long walk. Strolling at an easy pace, admiring buildings and people along the way, works up an appetite like sitting in traffic never can.
While the number of restaurants within walking distance (and worth eating at) isn’t tremendous in our Pasadena neighborhood, The Astronomer and I have a solid list of go-to places including Pie ‘n Burger, Old Sasoon Bakery, and Cham Korean Bistro. Our most recent addition to the walkable and craveable list is Zankou Chicken, an L.A. institution located about a mile from home.
This much-loved rotisserie chicken shack was founded in Beirut in 1962 by Vartkes and Markrid Iskenderian. The couple fled war-torn Lebanon and opened the first American branch of Zankou in Hollywood in 1984. There are currently ten Zankou locations in and around the Southland.
Zankou is run much like a fast food establishment. Orders are placed and paid for at the counter, and numbers are shouted out as food is ready for pick up. Business was bumping the Friday night we visited. Still, lines moved efficiently and food was prepared swiftly.
Our order was ready about ten minutes after placing it. Even though we were eating in, everything was packaged in Styrofoam just in case we changed our minds. Warm and toasty pita slabs rested atop each box.
Our dark-meat quarter chicken plate ($7.29) came with a side of curiously pink pickled turnips, out-of-season tomatoes, spicy peppers, and hummus. While the leg and thigh were pleasantly moist, it was the bird’s crispy skin that really impressed. When The Astronomer wasn’t looking, I wrapped the choicest morsels in pita, slathered it with garlic sauce, and savored the entire package. Chicken skin pita wraps should be a menu mainstay.
And speaking of garlic sauce, Markrid Iskenderian brought his recipe for this famously addictive condiment all the way from Beirut. It’s hard to say what’s in it exactly, but the consistency reminded me of Crisco, while the flavor was tangy and unabashedly sharp. The sauce had a way of lingering on my tongue long after the chicken was gone.
To supplement our quarter chicken, we also shared the tri-tip shawarma plate ($10.49). On the side were pickled turnips, peppers, hummus, raw red onions, tomatoes, and a creamy tahini sauce. The sesame and marinated steak paired like a dream wrapped inside the pita bread. The turnips and onions were just the thing when the flavors got too heavy.
Capping off our splendid evening of supporting local establishments, The Astronomer and I walked to Rite Aid for a scoop of black cherry Thrifty ice cream. It really hit the spot.
There is no greater digestif than a long walk home.
1296 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91106
There’s more to eat in Pasadena:
- ‘Lette Macarons – Pasadena
- 1886 Bar at The Raymond – Pasadena
- Barbara West Catering: A Nerdy Thanksgiving
- Carmela Ice Cream – Pasadena
- Cham Korean Bistro – Pasadena
- Chinese Gourmet Express – Pasadena
- Chocolate Afternoon Tea at The Langham – Pasadena
- Daisy Mint – Pasadena
- Dog Haus – Pasadena
- Dots Cupcakes – Pasadena
- Ernie’s Al Fresco – Pasadena
- Euro Pane Bakery – Pasadena
- Happy New Year, Y’all!
- House of Basturma – Pasadena
- Ira’s Gourmet – Pasadena
- La Grande Orange Cafe – Pasadena
- Love Thy Neighbor: Making Dosas with Renuka
- Mako Bowl – Pasadena
- Marston’s – Pasadena
- Mezbaan Indian Cuisine – Pasadena
- Naga Naga Ramen – Pasadena
- Old Sasoon Bakery – Pasadena
- Pappa Rich – Pasadena
- Pie ‘n Burger – Pasadena
- Pinkberry – Pasadena
- Polkatots – Pasadena
- Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles – Pasadena
- Smitty’s Grill – Pasadena
- The Dining Room at The Langham – Pasadena
- The Luggage Room Pizzeria – Pasadena
- The Slaw Dogs – Pasadena
- Top Restaurant – Pasadena
- Tortas Mexico – Pasadena
- Violet’s Cakes – Pasadena