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  • By Shelbi R. Ankiewicz

Top Pita: you need to try this Mediterranean street food

Top Pita is a Mediterranean restaurant that opened last November across the street from Coastal Carolina University’s main campus.

I never had a clear understanding of what Mediterranean cuisine was; hummus and gyros always came to mind. After my visit to Top Pita, I learned about the wide range of foods I’d been missing out on.

Cucumbers, tzatziki sauce, Turkish mild salsa and onion sumac are all ingredients commonly associated with the Mediterranean culture. The cuisine is a mixture of sweet, spicy, bold and crunchy all at once.

“From breads to vegetables to oils, there are so many ingredients and dishes that are uniquely and iconically Mediterranean,” said restaurant, Aleppo’s Kitchen in an online article located on their website.

The owner of Top Pita is Max Garby, and his wife’s name is Anna Garby. When speaking to Anna during a phone interview, she mentioned that they wanted a set up in the restaurant that was quick and fast for young people in the area, as well as the doctors and nurses at the local hospital.

The couple also wanted a faster, healthier alternative. Anna said that most college students eat fast food, because of the efficiency. Top Pita wants to bring that same efficiency but will healthy foods that are made fresh daily.

Every day the food is made, and the toppings are restocked so the containers are full and appealing. The spices used for the food are also brought straight from Israel, which is the couple’s background.

When I first entered Top Pita, I instantly thought of Chipotle. The serving style is like a cafeteria. I walked up to the bar, chose my base, meat and toppings, as the employee made it right then.

I ordered pita bread as my base, beef and lamb shawarma as the meat and just to list some toppings: cucumbers, green spicy salsa, lettuce and onion sumac. I was then given an option of two sides, so I asked for rice and potatoes. When I received my food at the register it was placed on what seemed to be a pizza pan and taco holder. It was an interesting choice of dishware for the style of the restaurant, but it worked perfectly for my pita.

Once I paid for my food I sat down at a high-top table and began to eat. The pita was amazing; so many flavors all in one, different textures and it was layered with plenty of toppings. I then tried the rice, which tasted like normal, yellow rice, nothing too special. The last thing on my list was the potatoes. They were submerged in seasoning which added a robust amount of flavor. I believe I also tasted a hint of lemon. My only complaint is that they were very oily.

The service was efficient with two servers behind the bar, but when I visited a second time only one person was working, and it took longer than expected because of the restaurants’ set up. Once I approached the bar, I was directed to start my order on the right side, next to where the register is. Then I made my way back to the left towards the line. A customer behind me would step up thinking I am finished, and then move back again because I was heading in their direction.

The layout of the restaurant is simple. There is an amply amount of seating at high-tops or regular tables (no booths). Upon leaving the line there is a soda fountain machine and a fridge with bottled drinks. There is also another cooler that contains various Mediterranean desserts. The walls are painted red and decorated with short phrases such as, “we love falafel,” “always fresh,” and “good food, good times.”

The prices are fair for the quality of the food. It was around $10 for my meal with a fountain drink.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience. The food tasted great, the employees were polite, and the restaurant achieved a high level of cleanliness.

Top Pita is one of three businesses that the couple owns. They have another restaurant in downtown Myrtle Beach called Jerusalem Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar, and a flower shop on 50th Ave. N.

Max originally wanted to have Top Pita open until around 3 a.m., since that is when students are leaving parties and doctors may want something when leaving work. Yet, with COVID-19, plans are fluctuating, so the idea may be implemented in the future.

The restaurant currently does not offer a student discount but may implement a punch card system so that after several visits, one can obtain a free meal.

Top Pita is in the same plaza as Tongy’s Shmack House and C3 Coffee Bar. Their phone number is (843)-331-3448.

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