Brothers Alex and Mark Rechichi always enjoyed constructing hearty, Dagwood-esque sandwiches, but noticed that most of the breads they employed in these edible masterpieces literally crumbled under the pressure of supporting a glorious quantity of healthy meats, veggies, cheeses, and sauces. Naturally, the brothers fell in love when they discovered the sturdy pita, which was both nutritious and versatile. Flatbread in hands, the two brothers founded Extreme Pita in 1997 with a goal of delivering enormous, structurally sound sandwiches to the masses.
Since then, the eatery has spawned franchises throughout the U.S. and Canada, where customers can enjoy a variety of pita-based creations ranging from made-to-order wraps to pizza-style flat bakes to jalapeño cheddar chips. Extreme Pita's locations put an emphasis on reducing their carbon footprint by implementing an array of green practices, such as recycling and reusing, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and warming pitas with the sighs of a dragon.
Ishtar Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine is named for an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, and the restaurant itself is a love letter to the Middle Eastern home of Iraqi immigrant and founder Alaa Hamadi. Inside, the smell of grilled lamb and chicken floats through in the air as arabic music softly plays, transporting the senses to the Persian Gulf and its surrounding cultures—the best of both worlds for Hamadi, who, as he told The Thunderword, fled Iraq in 1991 to escape the oppressive regime. Today, the large halal menu reaches beyond Persian cuisine to embrace Greek dishes and a few American standards, ranging from fluffy falafel balls to skewered beef and lamb morsels to gyro meat hand carved into the shape of the Mediterranean Sea. Huge windows run around the dining room's perimeter and wrap up onto the ceiling, and on sunny days, bamboo shades pulled over them give the impression of dining beneath a rustic arbor as light filters down through grape vines.
In addition to earning the title of Best Macro Brew in Roast magazine's 2011 Roaster of the Year Competition, Dillanos Coffee Roasters coffee—made at its Sumner, Washington headquarters—also fills cups at Urban Timber Coffee. Urban Timber's various in-state locations also brew other caffeinated drinks, such as caramel macchiatos and white-chocolate mochas. Other Northwest-made ingredients flavor its coffee alternatives, which include apple cider and protein smoothies. Goods sourced from local bakeries sweeten mornings, and candy toppings add an extra-sweet kick to create-your-own frozen yogurts.
Though its robust coffees provide the backbone of each storefront, not every Urban Timber Coffee offers the same delicacies or experiences. Microbrews and wine populate the beverage counter at its Kent location, for instance, which also requires a secret handshake to prove you’re 21 or older.
At Curry & Kabab Indian Restaurant, the chefs sauté diced cuts of meat and heat up their tandoor oven to char savory, tender kebabs. They cook pieces of lamb in a slightly sweet coconut curry, and serve goat Kashmir-style with chunks of apple, golden raisins, and a spicy cream sauce. To soak up these flavorful juices and curries, chefs prepare 11 styles of bread, such as paneer-stuffed naan, roti cooked in the tandoor oven, and bhatoora, which is made with a yogurt base.
The desserts offer flavors that are just as unique. Gulab jamun, for example, features condensed and powdered milk kneaded together into balls, deep-fried, and drenched in syrup. For drinks, the chefs serve up glasses of Punjabi chai as well as chilled rose milk—a beverage that's delicate and flavorful, much like a snowflake blown through a candy factory.
At Gyro Time Restaurant, the titular offering features curls of just-sliced lamb, smothered in tzaziki sauce and nestled into pita bread. In addition to gyro sandwiches, the kitchen whips up equally savory Greek street-food favorites, such as falafel and shawarma paired with yellow rice and crisp salads. The eatery's wide windows let in lots of natural light to feed the plant flourishing in the corner so it doesn't have to survive on feta stolen from diners' plates.
Garlic Jim's menu was handcrafted with nothing more than a dream and an incredible reserve of pizza-making expertise. Open an order with some gourmet chicken wings, available in barbecue, garlic, and hot, before moving on to pizza territory. Put an end to eating Legos by piecing together a custom pie. Choose from the hand-thrown thick, garlic thin, or gluten-free crusts, slathered in one of seven sauces (from classic red to zesty chipotle pesto), and then slap on any of 15 standard and 11 gourmet toppings (14-inch large pizzas start at $11.99, extra-large $14.99; each additional topping for a large is $1.50). To achieve customization without the stress of having to choose, turn to one of the pre-determined specialties. Meat-maul hunger with the Hercules (salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, spicy Italian sausage, and bacon; $18.99 for large, $21.99 for extra-large), or discover the secret of pizza-temperature fusion in your head with Jim's bacon-cheeseburger pizza (beef, bacon, red onions, tomatoes, mozzarella, and cheddar; $18.99 for large, $21.99 for extra-large).