WICKER PARK — Holy hummus — the number of Middle Eastern restaurants in Wicker Park is doubling within the same week.
After a year of planning, Shawarma Garden is set to open Wednesday at 1951 W. Division St., just east of Damen Avenue, according to owners Mary Ann, Sam and Nader Mubayed.
And on Friday, Flat Iron Pita Grill at 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave., just south of the Milwaukee, Damen and North intersection, will greets its first eaters too, confirmed owner Syed Wasif.
Both eateries are brought to the area by existing longtime business owners whose new ventures join other Middle Eastern restaurants Sultan's Market at 2057 W. North Ave. and Falafel & Grill at 1317 N. Milwaukee. Ave.
"We all have our areas. We are the only ones between Ashland and Western on Division Street," Mubayed said.
Mubayed joins his parents, Sam and Mary Ann, the chef, in running the restaurant. Shawarma Garden offers a mainly Middle Eastern menu divided into appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and sandwiches.
For those looking for an affordable lunch or late breakfast, the sandwiches range in price from $3.75 for an "ejja" egg omelet to $5.50 for a Gyros.
Shawarma Garden's Middle Eastern sandwiches, served with a tomatoes, pickles and Tahini sauce, include Falafel ($4.50), Shawarma ($5.75) and Kifta ($5.25), a spicy ground meat.
A Middle Eastern dish called Batata Salad ($3 small/$4.75 large) using potatoes, garlic, lemon and parsley was a favorite dish of Nader Mubayed when he was growing up, he said.
Another house specialty at Shawarma Garden is Mujadara, made of lentil beans cooked with rice and onions and served with yogurt, for $5.99.
Down the street, Flat Iron Pita Grill has replaced Food Mart, a mini mart at 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave. that draws its name from the iconic Landmark building it resides in.
Owner Syed Wasif has been steadily losing business to a nearby Walgreen's since it opened last November and with 50 percent of his profits down, Wasif said he either needed to re-concept or break his lease, which has five years remaining.
An early look at the Flat Iron Pita Grill's menu shows 46 items spanning several International cuisines (Middle Eastern, Indian, American, Greek) arranged by appetizers, salad, sandwiches, wraps, entrees and desserts.
Appetizers include Samosas ($1.50 each) and hummus ($4) as well as fried chicken tenders available in six-piece portions for dark meat or four pieces for white meat, priced $8 or $12, respectively.
Served with fries, sandwiches include chicken and beef shawarma ($6) as well as falafel ($5), in addition to Gyros and Philly Steak sandwiches, priced at $7 each. A hot dog with fries is $3.
The grill's entrees run the gamut from a lamp chop ($14) on the high end to a falafel plate for $6.
Wasif also added Tandoori Chicken and Roti wraps stuffed with veggies and meats to the menu along with Gulab Jamun, a cheese-based Indian dessert similar to a fried dumpling for $3.
To wash everything down, Flat Iron Pita Grill's beverages include soda, coffee, Chai tea, freshly-squeezed orange juice and Mango Lassi, a drink made from yogurt, water and mango pulp, the latter two priced at $4 per glass.
Shawarma Garden, 1951 W. Division St. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 773-904-8897.
Flat Iron Pita Grill, 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. daily. (The restaurant has no phone or website yet.)