Commuters heading into or out of Portland this summer witnessed a changing of the restaurant guard on Forest Avenue.
The free-standing space that once held bistro-style Chef et al. went dark for a short while, until splashes of bright green and purple paint started lighting the place up again.
Eventually, the sign was mounted outside, a multicolored revelation alerting passers-by to what was inside: Whaddapita!
To which traffic-jammed motorists replied: Whaddapita? Whaddisthat?
Whaddapita! is a dining spot where Greek meets West. Where gyros are ordered, eaten and enjoyed, though no one quite agrees on the correct pronunciation. And where a souvlaki pita can be washed down with a Moxie energy drink.
The revamped space is covered in color — greens, oranges, purples — and wonderfully airy on account of the high ceiling and a large glass facade that’s opened up during pleasant weather.
Out front, a small patio has been established, where diners can take in the sun and the river of automobiles.
Orders are placed at the counter with the good-natured staff, and can be taken to go or eaten on location. Whaddapita! also accepts phone orders.
There’s no lamb at this Greek-inspired venue, but plenty of chicken, beef and pork options. Classic pita sandwiches ($3.95) include the gyro pita made with chicken or pork, red onions, tzatziki and tomatoes, and wrapped in warm pita bread. There’s also a layer of french fries tucked in for good measure.
For cheap meat on the go, single skewered sticks of chicken souvlaki, pork souvlaki or beeftaki can be purchased for $1.50 each, although folks are discouraged from running with them.
Pita sandwiches for the vegetarian-minded ($3.95) include the feta with feta cheese, french fries, tomato, red onions and tzatziki; the eggplant with eggplant dip, fries, zesty feta, tomato, red onion and tangy vinaigrette; and Dolmades, made with chilled morsels of grape vine leaves filled with seasoned rice, fries, tomato, red onion and tzatziki.
Side dishes include feta cheese ($5.95), pita bread ($.75), french fries ($4.95) and zucchini fritters ($4.95).
For eaters who have trouble honing in on a decision, a combo platter ($9.95 for two choices, $11.95 for three) enables multiple choices.
Whaddapita!’s portion sizes are reasonable, meaning you won’t find any pitas as big as your head here. But a platter ($7.95) of zucchini fritters and fries, dolmades and pita bread or a three-dip spread will fill your belly.
Should there somehow still be room, there’s always the Greek yogurt ($5.50) or baklava ($2.50).
Whaddapita! also serves a small selection of beer, including Mythos ($4.50) and Bud Light ($3.25), and house wines ($4.25). Lunch-hour workers can stick with a smoothie ($4.39 to $4.95).
Because everyone knows how to pronounce “smoothie.”
The Features staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.