Lebanese bakery is a one-stop shop for shawarma, fresh pitas and much more
Don’t be fooled by the name, or by the fact that it seems to provide fresh baked pita to many of our city’s finer grocers and restaurants—Sunbake Pita Bakery is no mere baker of pita.
In fact, my most recent trip to Sunbake’s premises was initiated by a need for nuts. Because, among other things, Sunbake Pita is a roaster of premium nuts and boasts a prominent and alluring nut bar, featuring the unique and lustrous cri cri nut—an almond enfolded in an enigmatic crunchy shell.
The friendly owner advised on the appropriate quantity we needed to entertain a sizable group, dumping generous palmfuls for us to try over the glass divider and weighing out big paper sacks of the ones we liked. But, there was no way we were walking out of that gleaming, aromatic establishment with just a bag of nuts.
Sunbake is a one-stop shop for all manner of Lebanese deliciousness, from fresh pita and sauj (a single-ply wholegrain flatbread) to grab-and-go fatayers (baked turnovers with savoury fillings like spiced meat, spinach or cheese), shawarmas, the ubiquitous Beirut street food known as manakeesh, baklava and other Levantine sweets. You can even wash it down with a non-alcoholic malted apple beverage or, if you must, the sour yogurt drink laban.
Manakeesh is basically an open-faced pita pie baked in a brick oven with your choice of topping. Sunbake offers variants with halal pepperoni or sausage that approximate pizza, but I prefer the more authentic topping of zataar—a citrusy tasting herb blend with thyme and sesame seeds—mixed with olive oil.
Zataar is said to promote mental clarity, but mostly it’s delicious in its mildly astringent simplicity, especially on a just-crisped wheel of piping hot pita. If you should acquire some incidental mental clarity, where’s the harm?
Mild but distinctive Lebanese cheeses like akawi (a less salty feta) and kishik (made with dried yogurt), or seasoned ground beef are also on offer, and it will only cost $2 to $4 to experiment.
For me, though, the best reason to go to Sunbake Pita Bakery is to have some of the best chicken shawarma that can be found in this city. This may be nostalgia talking, but Sunbake’s reminds me of shawarma I ate—and loved—in the Middle East. It features marinated chicken, perfumed with lemon, cinnamon, allspice and garlic, shredded and piled in an artful mix of tender strips, crispy chunks and succulent fatty tranches; the slather of toum, the creamy condiment made by pounding garlic with olive oil and salt; the presence of tart Lebanese pickles both pink (turnip) and green (cuke); the absence of leafy vegetables bound to wilt instantly in the humid interior of the hot pita envelope.
Rather than someone hopping on a moped and risking their hide on Dubai’s notorious Sheikh Zayed Road to attain some shawarma and a glass of fresh pomegranate juice for the equivalent of $6, I can pick up a Sunbake shawarma to share with my co-diner for $8.50 without zero strain on my conscience—and browse Sunbake’s other tempting comestibles while I’m there. It seems like a pretty good deal.
There is absolutely no reason to take my word for any of this. Head to Sunbake and see for yourself. It will technically be too late to celebrate Eid al Adha by the time you read this, but if you need a pretense to go eat manakeesh and shawarma, that’s as good as any.
Sunbake Pita Bakery
10728 134 Ave.