Juicy, spit-roasted chicken, creamy tahini sauce and fresh herbs rolled into a soft pita -- it's hard to imagine a more perfect lunch than chicken schwarma. We sampled versions from the Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market (3171 south Grand Boulevard; 314-776-0991) and Al-Tarboush Deli (602 Westgate Avenue, University City; 314-725-1944) to see how these Mediterranean sandwiches stack up against one another.
The Vine Chicken schwarma from the Vine arrives neatly rolled into a pressed and toasted thin pita. Inside, the wrap contains hunks of herbed white-meat chicken, sliced tomatoes and tahini sauce. The dish's standout ingredients are the julinenne-cut sweet pickles. Their fragrant, perfume-y flavor permeates the schwarma and adds a snappy crunch.
Al-Tarboush Deli Taken out of its butcher-paper wrapping, Al-Tarboush's chicken schwarma is a mess. The reason for the not-so-pretty presentation, however, is its mix of fillings: cubed, marinated chicken breast, tomatoes, red onions, parsley, pungent garlic spread and so much tahini sauce that it dribbles down the eater's arm. It's a small price to pay.
The Winner: Al-Tarboush Deli For sheer ease of eating, the Vine is a better-built wrap. The schwarma contents are tightly bound into the crisp, toasted pita, making it an easy grab-and-go option. The sweet pickles, classic in many traditions, add a pleasant, floral touch and texture to the wrap. However, Al-Tarboush's mouth-puckering, garlic spread and creamy tahini pair to form an ambrosial sauce. The zesty marinated chicken and cool, fresh parsley make your mouth dance with flavor-induced joy. Just don't take this tasty wrap out of the paper.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.