Hidden along an office park-populated fringe of easternmost Towson, Zaytoun Bistro is an oasis of authentic Halal eats. In the front Zaytoun is a small store selling Turkish and Mediterranean groceries—bulk spices such as sumac and coriander, boxes of Turkish Delight and halvah, culinary oddities such as rose water. The bistro is in the back, past the fig jam.
Much of the menu is dedicated to pizza, with plenty of intriguing toppings ($6.95 for 10 inch, $9.95 for 16 inch, $1.25/$1.95 per additional topping respectively). There is a tasty vegetarian pie ($9.95/$13.95) with roasted peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, caramelized onions, grilled zucchini, and two kinds of olives, but the house specialty Mediterranean pizza ($9.95/$13.95) is even better. Topped with artichokes, olives, fresh tomatoes, and soujok, a lamb/beef sausage spiced similarly to chorizo, it is a spicy, tangy treat. Zaytoun’s pies are founded on fine, fresh dough, which bakes up tender with a terrifically thin, crisp exterior. While waiting for pizza, nosh on the silky-smooth, tahini-rich homemade hummus, swirled with aromatic, deeply green olive oil ($3.95).
The falafel sandwich ($5.45) is a mighty sight: four fat chickpea patties on a puffy pita, smothered in tahini sauce, onions, and shredded romaine. This large barge of a sandwich rests on a sea of flat-cut fried potatoes dusted with Zaytoun’s paprika-scented spice mix—one hell of a lot of food for five bucks and change. Zaytoun Bistro also offers panini; we tried the chicken, with thin-sliced grilled chicken breast, provolone, grilled zucchini and onions, and roasted peppers dressed with honey mustard and served with more of those spicy fries ($6.95). The grilled-to-slenderness sandwich was a marvel of crunchy exterior and moist, tender interior, but sure could have used more of the veggies. And what else for dessert but baklava ($1.50), though there is, alas, no Turkish coffee.