Shakshuka, Shawarma and More at Chopita
When I was visiting 99 Miles to Philly last week, I noticed a lunch spot next door that I’d never heard of, Chopita (45th St. btw. 1st+2nd), and decided to check it out this week. Specializing in kosher Mediterranean food with a decidedly Israeli bent (the owners spent time in Israel), Chopita offers falafel, shawarma, schnitzel, and shakshuka, among other things.
You can order most items at Chopita as a platter or a sandwich (on pita, baguette, or laffa). First up for me was a shakshuka pita. For $7, my pita was stuffed to the gills with shakshuka (eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce) and various other toppings that you can pick and choose. The sandwich was tasty, spicy, and filling, but the shakshuka itself got lost among the other toppings. If I didn’t actually see egg after taking a bite, I might not have known it was even in there. There’s also very little texture to it, making it good in a I’m-not-sure-what-I’m-tasting sort of way. I assume the shakshuka holds up better as a platter, so that you can really taste it.
The pita itself, though, was great. Fluffy and soft, it may be the best pita I’ve ever had.
For better or worse, I don’t each much falafel besides Crisp, so I grabbed a side of the fried chickpea fritters (five balls for $3). The falafel was good, fried to a dark, satisfying crispiness. They were also heavily spiced. They were a bit heavier than I prefer, though, and greasy. A falafel pita sandwich costs $7 though, which is just as expensive as Crisp. Because I like the toppings at Crisp better, I’d stick with them, but really a street cart might be the best way to go.
Unable to resist the sight of the roasting cone of meat, I tried out the shawarma as well. Not a pre-made cone of mystery meat, it was a hand-built tower, dripping with juices. Like the falafel, the shawarma was heavily spiced. It’s good shawarma, but at $10 for a pita sandwich, it’s pricey. It’s a filling sandwich, though, packed with plenty of meat. I’d recommend getting it with the red hot sauce, which packs a punch.
With each sandwich at Chopita, you get a plastic container to fill at the salad bar. It’s a nice touch, but many of the salad options are the same as what you get in your sandwich, which feels a bit like cheating. They did have stuffed grape leaves one of the times I went, though – a definite plus.
To get a sandwich on a baguette costs a dollar more than a pita, and the laffa costs $2 more. The laffa is certainly bigger, though, so worth it for those who demand a big lunch. Combo deals are available (sandwich or platter plus a side or soup, plus a drink), but each is unfortunately priced north of the ML limit.
I enjoyed all of the food I had at Chopita, and might return to try the schnitzel (I miss you, Schnitzel & Things brick+mortar!), but I can’t help but feel that it’s all a bit too expensive given the cheaper options that are around.
Chopita, 300 East 45th St. (btw. 1st+2nd Ave.), 212.499.7482