Qynshela Sanders / Lantern photographer
Walking in to Pera Fresh Istanbul Food, a new restaurant on High Street, I was already feeling good vibes from hearing Lauryn Hill’s “Tell Him” over the speakers. This new addition to High Street surprised me. With bar stool tables on the left and right sides of the building, a long table strip in the middle and wrap-around counter tops, I was reminded of Chipotle.
There were a lot more people than I expected enjoying what Pera had to offer. For a new restaurant, I wasn’t expecting a crowd of more than 20 people at a time. I love Turkish food, so I was eager to try this place out and I see others were excited right along with me.
There wasn’t much variety in food choice, but the set up mirrors Chipotle’s assembly line production. You can choose from a wrap, pide bread or a bowl and you decide what kind of meats and condiments you would like to dress your entrée with. Pera also serves soups that you can customize with your own toppings as well. Seeing that I love gyros, I decided to go with a chicken gyro wrap with rice, tomatoes, lettuce and a garlic sauce.
I was surprised to see how much Pera’s food preparation resembled Chipotle’s and I like that a lot. I like to see my food being made right in front of me and at my command. I also enjoyed the self-serve pop dispensers at the end of the counter — it was very convenient to refill your beverage at anytime while dining in. However, I was very disappointed because I expected so much more. I was expecting an authentic cuisine meal, not a server assembly line.
The prices were decent as well. My chicken gyro was $6.95, which is around how much it costs to get a burrito bowl from Chipotle, and I feel my $6.95 was well spent.
Overall, besides Pera bearing an uncanny resemblance to Chipotle, I believe this restaurant has few flaws. The gyro meat was juicy and not overly seasoned, the employees were helpful and very friendly, and the atmosphere was very welcoming with music playing and two flat screen TVs on each side of the building. I suggest putting Pera on your to-do list because I don’t think you’ll be let down — unless you’re not a fan of gyros.