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Petra Cafe

Unassuming Fed Hill Middle Eastern outlet

Photo: Evan Serpick, License: N/A

Evan Serpick

Petra Cafe

1038 Light St., (443) 570-2062

This unassuming Middle Eastern outlet in Fed Hill, with letter stickers spelling out “GYRO” and “FELAFEL” on a slat above the front window, felt like a total crapshoot. We had noticed the narrow storefront, which opened last March, on a previous trip to Cross Street Market but knew nothing about it. With generic pictures of gyros and hot wings on the walls and a makeshift menu in a plastic frame, we thought it might be a glorified fast-food joint slinging frozen falafel. But we liked that the giant ventilation tube overhead was painted cheerful pink, with the name of the place printed in bubble letters on it. We got the falafel wrap combo ($5.99 for just the sandwich, $1.99 more for fries and a drink), and more signs started pointing to Petra Café being a diamond in the rough. The friendly, attentive cashier/cook/server (CCS) asked if we wanted broccoli-based or chickpea-based falafel balls. We were intrigued by broccoli-based balls—or that there was an option at all—but we stuck with the traditional version. He then asked if we wanted them spicy. We said, “Sure, a little”—still playing our cards close to the vest. Then, we were won over as we watched the CCS wash hands, put on gloves, and hand-scoop his ground chickpea falafel mix, add a pinch of spice to the middle, roll it up, and drop it in the fryer. No frozen-ball slinging here. When CCS was done, we were carefully asked about condiments; we kept it traditional with hummus, tahini, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red cabbage. The finished product was as delightful as you might imagine, crispy, flavorful, and maybe the freshest-tasting we’ve had in town. Fries were standard but plentiful. We’ll be back.

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