Rachel Ochoa and Mohammed Ali worked the busy Friday night shift at my favorite hidden gem in Back Bay, Mass Ave Pita. The tiny corner Mediterranean food restaurant serves shawarma, falafel, tabouli, grape leaves, and hummus made from scratch seven nights a week.
I first fell in love with the restaurant’s fast and fresh falafel rollups in 2010, when I first moved to Boston. I had recently wrapped up work as a production assistant for a documentary film short shot in Tel Aviv, Israel, and was delighted to find an authentic pita place. I frequented the original location, South End Pita, which featured classic fillings such as pickled turnips, cucumber and tomatoes, and yogurt-tahini sauce.
The restaurant’s second location, Mass Ave Pita, is conveniently situated directly beneath my apartment building, and their orange and yellow customer rewards card gets a lot of use in my household. When I visited that Friday night, two of the location’s four workers were scraping off the last of the night’s chicken shawarma from the rotating spit. Rachel, who has worked at Mass Ave Pita for a year, says that the chicken shawarma is the most popular dish. She and her colleague, Mohammed, have been trying to keep up with the crowd of students streaming across the street from Berkeley’s new campus center. “It’s pretty much busy all year long,” says Rachel.
What is the best part about working at Mass Ave Pita? I asked the workers. “Being friends with all my customers,” Mohammed told me. “We work as friends.”
Mass Ave Pita is the place I drop by when I don’t have time to cook, and I’m looking for a quick, relatively healthy, and inexpensive dinner. A chicken shawarma salad combo, my go-to meal, sets me back $8.45, and my fiance’s favorite, the falafel combo plate, is the same price. Their hummus is unbelievable — we always order it as a side for $3.60. Mass Ave Pita offers payment through LevelUp, cash or credit card.
Mass Ave Pita is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are located at 197A Massachusetts Avenue, Boston 02118, just two blocks away from the Hynes Convention Center T stop.