Lunchtime with Tillie: Zaytoons

I’m Van. She’s Tillie. Together, we do lunch. Hey out there, neighborhood! It’s another edition of “Lunchtime With Tillie” and for this trip, we ended up at Myrtle Avenue mainstay Zaytoon’s for a nice Middle Eastern meal. And we even had a special guest with us this go-around: Tillie’s mom, who was working from home and broke away to join us!

Zaytoon’s crept up on my lunch radar a couple of weeks ago when I noticed its menu posted on the window and saw a special burger section. Among the varieties was something called a “turkey royale,” which was said to be made with apples, and special herbs and spices. Turkey burgers never seem to have enough zing or zest to them for me, so I thought this was something I had to eventually try.

The day we went to Zaytoon’s was a pretty full one already for Baby T. She had a doctor’s appointment that morning, then we had a meeting at the playground with this neighborhood dads’ group I started. After we got back from the doctor’s, she went down for a nap, during which time I spent psyching myself up for the playground/lunch trip, and packing up her little lunch I was bringing along: blueberries, formula and a jar of “spring vegetables with pasta,” an organic baby food dish I picked up that I was hoping she wouldn’t hate and spit in my face!

When she woke up, we said our goodbyes to mom and made our way down to the playground on DeKalb and Carlton. We ended up staying out there a little longer than I thought we would, which then led me to think that maybe we should just grab something close by since she could be crashing soon. But that little voice inside of me that had been thinking about that turkey burger told me to press onward, so-Zaytoon’s-bound we were! On the way there, I called Tillie’s mom and told her we were on our way. She said she would join us for a snack.

We got to Zaytoon’s and the place was super-cool, which was nice having come out of the hot sun. When we walked in, we immediately received one of the warmest greetings I’ve gotten going to a restaurant. Our waitress grabbed a high chair for us right away, and then actually set Tillie up in it for me. She hung around for a minute playing with Tillie, getting big smiles from her. The manager came over and also played with Tillie, who must have felt like she died and had gone to restaurant heaven at this point! The waitress left to get Tillie some crayons and a drawing to color, then tried to show T what to do with it all, which I thought was really thoughtful. Tillie later tried to eat the crayons, but still, it’s the thought that counts!

We were sitting by the front window, so we were able to see Tillie’s mom come up. She entered and as always, Tillie was very happy to see her. As I mentioned, TM was just going for a snack and I thought that maybe I should order a platter, then give her the pita and hummus it came with. But I didn’t want to commit to a platter, plus that turkey burger idea was still lurking in my head. She decided to go with a small order of baba ghanoush. When it was time to place my order, I went in a completely different direction than from what I had been thinking about for days and got a merguez sandwich with a side order of fries. I don’t know what happened, maybe it was the thought the turkey burger wouldn’t live up to how I built it up in my head. Who knows?


Anyway, the baba ghanoush came out first, and it definitely looked intriguing. I never had it before and Tillie’s mom offered me some. I asked her if it was hot and she said no. So I said, “sorry, no dice.” (I have some food issues that would take up a million LWT’s to run down!) Tillie, fortunately, doesn’t have any of my hang-ups and made an eager recipient for the offer, and after the first bite was hooked! I still wanted her to get in some of my scary-looking jar of food I brought along, though. She had some bites, but was all about the eggplant!

My food arrived, and it was a plentiful amount, but I was up for the challenge. I took a bite of the sandwich, and then had to reach for the water right away! It was good, but a lot spicier than I had prepared myself for. The fries came piled to the brim in a basket and Tillie’s mom was able to help herself to as many as she wanted. (I’m always complaining about her throwing off my sandwich-to-fries ratios!)


In between bites of her food, Tillie was busy looking around the rest of the place for someone to give her some extra attention or smiles. The waitress played with T a little more when she came around, and after Tillie was finished with the savory portion of lunch, mom broke out the blueberries I packed along. I have to tell you, it was nice to have a blueberry cutter/distributor along: I was able to battle with my tasty, yet ultra-spicy sandwich!

By the time the blueberries were gone, I was finished, so we decided to call it a day in there. We got the check, which was $20, including the tip. Tillie’s mom picked up the bill, which made the trip even more of a success! I definitely recommend going to Zaytoon’s for lunch: Good food, great service and even greater company made it a perfect afternoon.