At times, the Valley gets slammed as the land of the laminated menu, but that doesn’t mean some good food can’t come from a place with a wipeable list of lunch specials. Case in point — Zeta’s Grill in Avondale.
The family restaurant is located in a strip mall across the street from Estrella Mountain Community College. You're impressed upon entry with the attentive staff and standard-but-clean dining room. But afterward, in the vast parking lot, you’ll still be thinking of pillowy pitas and tender kabob meat.
Zeta’s menu covers Mediterranean and Lebanese fare. The eatery promises never-frozen hot and cold entrees, but before you can really take in the multi-page menu, if you’re lucky, someone has brought pitas for the table.
This is where the low-carbers are pitied. This is a basket of warm, three-dimensional pita rounds. They’re puffed up, like hot air might whoosh out if handled without care. The thin, spongy bread begs for the dish of oil, salt, pepper, and herbs. Before you know it, you’re tearing open these suckers, dipping, and telling the next one to say its prayers.
Finally, you order.
A Greek salad is standard at a Mediterranean eatery, which is why it’s no surprise the lunch staple is done well here. Yes, there’s lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, black olive, red bell pepper, and feta cheese. But it’s that house-made Greek vinaigrette dressing, heavy on the garlic and gloppy in texture, that makes this salad disappear.
Greek salad and hummus aside, the menu throws a few surprises, too. Think kibbeh shameyieh, sanbousek meat and cheese, foul moudamas, and a lot more where those come from — but not to worry. Most menu items come with a plain-and-simple descriptor. Example: The sujok is the Armenian spicy sausage. Jawaneh is grilled chicken wings.
When deciding on an entrée, the kabobs come recommended. And when deciding on a kabob, beef is suggested. The beef kabob (lahm meshwi) contains charcoal-grilled, tender-as-the-night cubes of beef served with grilled vegetables. The skewers are removed, and the meat and veggies and gently covered with a thin sheet of pita to keep its warmth before reaching the table.
The kabob's side of vegetables is soft but edged with a little crispiness, and the beef is so tender it could be given to a kitten (but you know, don’t). Everything pairs with the creamy yogurt sauce, which comes in the kind of cup that should be enough, but you’re already rationing by the first taste.
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The menu is headlined as healthy Lebanese cuisine, and depending on your diet of choice, this is true based on a little navigation. That’s because the menu is pretty expansive, offering lunch and dinner specials, cold and hot appetizers, salads, seafood, and desserts. You get it.
But that just gives a place like this longevity. There’s something a little different to try each time. That is, if you don’t fill up on pitas.
2935 North Dysart Road, Avondale
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday