Poppa Pete’s: A Lebanese Joint
265 Kenmore Avenue
My eight-year-old nephew Jack is the reason I know about Poppa Pete’s, a Lebanese American, vegan-friendly restaurant located on Kenmore Avenue near Niagara Falls Boulevard. He tried it and let me know that I needed to, as well. Jack enthusiastically gives Poppa Pete’s two thumbs up, and wants everyone to know that their grape leaves are delicious.
Poppa Pete’s A Lebanese Joint opened its brick and mortar operations in January 2021. For several months prior, owner Pete Deeb rented space to get his business up and running. The effort made to perfect the food and the service prior to opening a permanent takeout space is evident; I normally don’t like to review a place until the restaurant has some time to get its sea legs, but four orders from Poppa Pete’s over the past month have all been professional and delicious. Service is swift, accurate, and safe. Order by phone or online, and when you arrive at the appointed time (usually twenty minutes later), call or text and an employee will bring your order to you, take your card inside to run it, and bring it right back. This emphasis on takeout service and payment may seem basic, but it has been difficult for some small businesses to adjust to the new normal. Poppa Pete’s, having opened in the midst of the madness, had it down from the jump.
Now, about those grape leaves: the food at Poppa Pete’s is fresh and tasty. One of my favorite things is that the menu offers robust vegan options. When vegan options are poor substitutions for the “real” menu at restaurants, vegans lose out. Order for both the vegans and the omnivores in your life at Poppa Pete’s; everyone will be pleased. The “street box” is basically a combo platter with the full range of items on offer. Both omnivore and vegan versions are excellent, good values ($14 for the vegan box, $15 for omnivore). The main difference is that the protein in the vegan box is a well-spiced chick pea salad, and the protein in the nonvegan box is chicken. Aside from vegan grape leaves and dairy-free salad dressing and tzatziki, the two boxes are comparable. They both contain two regular and one black bean falafel; two homemade, hand-rolled grape leaves; a protein; Mujadara, hummus, tabbouleh, side salad, pita chips, pita, tzatziki, tahini, and hot sauce. This is a lot of food for $15 or less.
The sandwiches and wraps I’ve tried (such as the grape leaves wrap, $9.75) have been freshly made, with high quality ingredients. Grape leaves are a Deeb family specialty, for good reason. Both versions of the grape leaves are handmade at the restaurant and have that delicious, homecooked flavor. There’s something comforting about getting food that you know has been made from scratch, without shortcuts.
There are a couple areas of the menu that I plan to explore on future visits, including bowls (both Mujadara and Lebanese rice for $9.75), where you can pick your toppings and proteins, and there are a variety appetizers and sides, like Poppa’s wonderful avocado hummus, which comes with pita chips for $5.50. I look forward to trying Poppa’s roasted jalapeno hummus ($5.50) and the Labneh ($1.25) on future trips. With Jack, of course.