September 9, 2010

Eat and Run: Can you say YUM?

'Gyro' might be debatable, but not how good the food is at Whaddapita!

Commuters heading into or out of Portland this summer witnessed a changing of the restaurant guard on Forest Avenue.

click image to enlarge

Paris Bethel serves a chicken gyro pita, pork souvlaki and zucchini fritter platter at Whaddapita! in Portland.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 408 Forest Ave., Portland. 773-8111

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

CHEAPEST GRUB: Classic pita sandwiches, including gyro, souvlaki and beeftaki, for $3.95. Single skewered sticks for $1.50.

WAIT: Around 5 minutes



Based on a 5-star scale

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.


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