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Roti Mediterranean Grill, a Chicago Chain in Numerous DC Area Locations

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People are handing out fliers on the street today. Supposed to open in two weeks.

Hi all - I'm working with Roti on their opening and wanted to let you know that they're offering a free lunch on Wednesday, April 14 from 11am - 2pm to all who stop by and make a donation to DC Central Kitchen. The free lunch offer includes any sandwich, salad, or Mediterranean plate plus drink. Stop by for some hummus and say hello! 1747 Penn Ave NW.

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Their website says the grand opening is April 9th, and also has a contest to enter to win free meals for a year.

We are celebrating our DC opening by offering one customer Roti for a Year. That's right, a free lunch every day for 12 months. We did this in Chicago and the winner never tired of us. True story, it's on YouTube.

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Their website says the grand opening is April 9th.

It appears to be pushed back to Monday, April 12, but if you are fast enough, you can sign up here today or tomorrow for a free "Sandwich, Salad, Entree or Mediterranean Plate plus a fountain drink" as part of their pre-opening practice run.

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Two friends and I stopped at Roti downtown for lunch and were MIGHTILY impressed. First impression was of, as others have noted, a "Mediterranean Chipotle" . . . VERY similar "fast casual" layout with the queue to the counter lined with instructional signs and enticing photos of the food. The line was long but moved quite quickly. Very efficient serving line with either sandwiches, plates, or salads prepped at the top and various vegetables and toppings available as you move toward the registers. The staff was extremely efficient and (notably, I thought) friendly. Lots of (sincere-looking!) smiles. I greeted the managers as I got to the registered and they seem bright and enthusiastic. Food was very tasty and all in my party enjoyed their meals- -I had a "mediterranean plate" with falafel (excellent some with good-sized chunks of chickpeas which I like), roasted vegetables, a very solid hummus and Israeli couscous. Housemade pita warm, soft and tasty. Sauces (I think, a raita, a red pepper aioli and a hot sauce) were good, especially the hot variety, which added a bit-of-a-needed kick to the flavors. Food not seasoned very aggressively at all....definitely light on the salt which I've found can be applied too liberally at restaurants in this concept. Portions quite generous (but, again thankfully, not OVERly so). Really an enjoyable and reasonably priced ($7.50 for what I ordered) and seemingly very well-managed place. Spoke briefly with assistant manager Shane, very nice guy, who seems very proud of the place and of the company's expansion plans in the DC area. In short, I think this cuisine appears to have been well-adapted to the fast-casual format and that Roti is a terrific option for downtowners looking for a well-prepared, reasonably healthful meal served quickly and with a smile.

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Tried Roti today (near Metro Center). As mentioned above, definitely smacks of the Mediterranean Chipotle. Went with the falafel on laffa. Toppings of hummus, red cabbage slaw, mixed greens, tomato & cucumber salad, and feta cheese. Dressings of Tahini and red pepper aioli (even though I asked for shug...unless their shug is bright red and sweet). Falafel was fine, the veg ingredients all seemed fresh. I guess my main bone with these places is they think that if they slather enough sauce and other goop on top then the rest of the ingredients don't have to be that good.

About what I expected...for $7.50 you get a (relatively) inexpensive sandwich that is inoffensive. Solidly example of American assembly line productivity. Henry Ford would be proud.

I would also quibble on healthy it is, their online nutrition calculator rated my sandwich as:

1,111 calories

66g fat

12g saturated fat

1,755 mg sodium

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Tried Roti today (near Metro Center). As mentioned above, definitely smacks of the Mediterranean Chipotle. Went with the falafel on laffa. Toppings of hummus, red cabbage slaw, mixed greens, tomato & cucumber salad, and feta cheese. Dressings of Tahini and red pepper aioli (even though I asked for shug...unless their shug is bright red and sweet). Falafel was fine, the veg ingredients all seemed fresh. I guess my main bone with these places is they think that if they slather enough sauce and other goop on top then the rest of the ingredients don't have to be that good.

About what I expected...for $7.50 you get a (relatively) inexpensive sandwich that is inoffensive. Solidly example of American assembly line productivity. Henry Ford would be proud.

I would also quibble on healthy it is, their online nutrition calculator rated my sandwich as:

1,111 calories

66g fat

12g saturated fat

1,755 mg sodium

Good point about the health content, there are many students in the Foggy-Bottom area that are taken in by the 'healthy' advertising, but the minute you add all of your ingredients you are easily over 1k calories for lunch. Don't know why people are so easily taken in by advertising, but it is nice that their nutrition calculator is so available. I do like their inexpensive breakfast options.

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My +1 and I have hit up the NoMa Roti a few times before grocery shopping at the HT on a Saturday (too bad it's not open on Sundays or after 7pm on weekdays!). We've enjoyed it pretty much every time we've been, and it's nice that it's not so crowded on the weekend.

My go-to is usually a create my own salad with the following:

Chicken Roti

Baba Gannoush

Spanish Eggplant

Sumac Onions

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Roasted Vegetables

(I think you're limited to 3 "toppings" with a sandwich or platter, but salads they just keep piling on)

The Baba ensures I don't really need to add a dressing, but I usually get some of the Zhug and Dill, Yogurt, and Cucumber sauces on the side to dip and spread around as I like.

Not counting the sauces, this comes to around 300 calories and 16 g of fat. Using a whole serving of the two sauces would add around 130 calories. Since I realized that the pita bread adds an additional 230 calories or so, I've tended to opt out of getting one, or trying to only eat part of it.

Obviously there are healthier and worse options for you at Roti. If you're getting anything on wrap or pita, the fried falafel, or some of the creamier sauces, the calories really add up. But it is possible to eat "lighter" there if you're vigilant! I like having the option.

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Dressings of Tahini and red pepper aioli (even though I asked for shug...unless their shug is bright red and sweet).

I think you actually did get the Zhug, which they refer to as "very spicy." The red pepper aioli is a pinker hued creamy sauce, and the zhug is bright red. It has a bit of a kick, but is definitely a little sweet and not nearly as spicy as advertized.

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I think you actually did get the Zhug, which they refer to as "very spicy." The red pepper aioli is a pinker hued creamy sauce, and the zhug is bright red. It has a bit of a kick, but is definitely a little sweet and not nearly as spicy as advertized.

hmmm...then their zhug sucks! I would avoid...and definitely not worth the calorie count!

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In case anyone hasn't noticed, Roti has quietly opened (or will soon open) over 10 area restaurants in 2.5 years.

It's interesting how so many people reference Chipotle as the original model for Quick Serve restaurants (or "Fast Casual," or whatever the current term is) - I would go further back and cite Subway, or even something before that. Maybe even Hot Shoppes Cafeteria.

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I think that people reference Chipotle because it has a certain higher cache than Subway. Also Chipotle uses a certain restraint in having a limited options for meat, salsas and other fillings, a model that Roti follows. while Subway emphasizes having dozens of options.

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"The Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant Roti closed its Westlake Drive location near the Bethesda mall over the holidays. Carl Segal, CEO of the chain, told the local retail blog Store Reporter that the location closed as new competitors such as Cava Grill and Chipotle opened in the mall's new dining terrace."

Dude, if your business for a fast-casual restaurant is totally disrupted by a Chipotle a block away, perhaps you need to take a hard look at your business model...

The Rockville location at Pike & Rose is now open.

The location near Montgomery Mall has closed.

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My guess:

Cava was the main restaurant issue.  They are basically the same restaurant concept, though I'm sure both would argue that.  I suspect Chipotle was tossed in there as an argument why they weren't drawing the 15 year old crowd that doesn't mind e-coli risks.

The real issue was likely that they were outside the mall, lumped with car gas/repair/dealership places.   I don't like malls, but that's the only game in that part of town.   While I doubt it cost very much to open that Roti, it sounds like they learned a hard lesson here.

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"The Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant Roti closed its Westlake Drive location near the Bethesda mall over the holidays. Carl Segal, CEO of the chain, told the local retail blog Store Reporter that the location closed as new competitors such as Cava Grill and Chipotle opened in the mall's new dining terrace."

Dude, if your business for a fast-casual restaurant is totally disrupted by a Chipotle a block away, perhaps you need to take a hard look at your business model...

Aint that a fact.   I tried it 2 or 3 times.  My recollection is ---> dry.  Not tasty.

My guess:

Cava was the main restaurant issue.  They are basically the same restaurant concept, though I'm sure both would argue that.  I suspect Chipotle was tossed in there as an argument why they weren't drawing the 15 year old crowd that doesn't mind e-coli risks.

The real issue was likely that they were outside the mall, lumped with car gas/repair/dealership places.   I don't like malls, but that's the only game in that part of town.   While I doubt it cost very much to open that Roti, it sounds like they learned a hard lesson here.

oh man....history.  In the early '80's I was part of a "team" that leased those stores near the mall. (by team I mean one guy controlled it, and rookies like me would do the slop work)  They were an extension of Hechinger's.  Good old Hechinger's.  Closed for good around 1999.

As I recall there was one good pizza, sub sandwich place in that strip of stores and during the 90's when I lived near there got tons of takeout from there.  Roti???  I wouldn't take out, and would only eat in as a last resort.  But that is just me.

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Aint that a fact.   I tried it 2 or 3 times.  My recollection is ---> dry.  Not tasty.

That's funny you say that, because that's been my reaction to Cava Grill the couple times I've tried it (whereas I never had that problem with Roti). But I think with both it depends mightily on what you choose during your assembly line process!

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I tried Roti once.  I thought it was a bit confusing to order.  I also think the food/concept at Cava is tighter.

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That's funny you say that, because that's been my reaction to Cava Grill the couple times I've tried it (whereas I never had that problem with Roti). But I think with both it depends mightily on what you choose during your assembly line process!

Could be.  Could well be in the choices.  As to Roti, must admit after a couple of earlier trials I haven't returned to find tastier choices.

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Could be.  Could well be in the choices.  As to Roti, must admit after a couple of earlier trials I haven't returned to find tastier choices.

Cava took me a few tries to find a flavor combo I enjoyed.  I find this is common across many of the recent fast casual places - Shophouse, Cava, Beefsteak, etc.  I've given Beefsteak tries and still can't find a combo that I find 'works' and have given up.  Cracking this code has to be one of the core elements of having a successful new concept in this market - there's only so many times I'm willing to pay for a bad lunch when it seems like the restaurant should be doing a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

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Living in a hotel In Tysons two night a week has my belly expanding and wallet shrinking.  Thus 1 night we try to go to a healthy and cheap option Salmon salad at Roti is winner winner chicken dinner.  Noting special but at 12/person nothing really is special. The salmon is good and the salad and toppings offer great variety.  Comparing this the Salmon Kabobs at Moby Dick, Moby gives you more salmon but the salad is much plainer.

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We've gotten wraps  from the Roti by the ballpark to take into the two postseason games we've gone to. I hadn't been there before this month. It worked fine for our purposes. (We used to pick up sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet in the same row of stores.)

Last night I got a steak roti wrap with romaine, red cabbage slaw, cilantro, and garlic sauce. It hit the spot. All I'd eaten to that point yesterday was a few pretzels, so that could be a factor in the deliciousness of the wrap. I'm not partial to wraps generally, but it seemed the most portable and non-messy way to eat their food at our seats.

I was a little apprehensive checking the online nutrition calculator. I notice it doesn't have the lettuces you can add listed there, but they've got to be pretty negligible, calorie-wise at least. That wrap was 650 calories (not bad), but -- yikes -- 34g fat and 1142 mg sodium.

 

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48 minutes ago, Pat said:

We've gotten wraps  from the Roti by the ballpark to take into the two postseason games we've gone to. I hadn't been there before this month. It worked fine for our purposes. (We used to pick up sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet in the same row of stores.)

Last night I got a steak roti wrap with romaine, red cabbage slaw, cilantro, and garlic sauce. It hit the spot. All I'd eaten to that point yesterday was a few pretzels, so that could be a factor in the deliciousness of the wrap. I'm not partial to wraps generally, but it seemed the most portable and non-messy way to eat their food at our seats.

I was a little apprehensive checking the online nutrition calculator. I notice it doesn't have the lettuces you can add listed there, but they've got to be pretty negligible, calorie-wise at least. That wrap was 650 calories (not bad), but -- yikes -- 34g fat and 1142 mg sodium.

 

....and by the way, Scherzer pitched a great game with one early mistake, eating up 7 innings with only the one early run, and oft forgotten Ryan Zimmerman hit a towering homer to Centerfield.  That was a tall boy!!!  Then (my man) Rendon  (c'mon Lerner's, sign him up) made connection and brought in 3 other runs. 

You, btw, are a great fan.  Should we win in LA you will hopefully get to see more games in the next round.  Lets Go Nats!!!!!

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4 hours ago, Pat said:

We've gotten wraps  from the Roti by the ballpark to take into the two postseason games we've gone to. I hadn't been there before this month. It worked fine for our purposes. (We used to pick up sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet in the same row of stores.)

Last night I got a steak roti wrap with romaine, red cabbage slaw, cilantro, and garlic sauce. It hit the spot. All I'd eaten to that point yesterday was a few pretzels, so that could be a factor in the deliciousness of the wrap. I'm not partial to wraps generally, but it seemed the most portable and non-messy way to eat their food at our seats.

I was a little apprehensive checking the online nutrition calculator. I notice it doesn't have the lettuces you can add listed there, but they've got to be pretty negligible, calorie-wise at least. That wrap was 650 calories (not bad), but -- yikes -- 34g fat and 1142 mg sodium.

 

You don't say what style of sandwiches you used to get at Taylor Gourmet, and if the Nats don't advance, this will be useless information, but inside Nats Park, at the Caviar storefront (next to Haute Dogs in the free-standing building in left field), Grazie, Grazie! has been operating there lately (at least the last week of the season and the three playoff games).  This is the operation started by one of the founders of Taylor Gourmet, whose name escapes me.  The offerings are limited to a Chicken Parm sub and the "8 + 1", an Italian cold cut sub that seems to be the same as the "9th Street" (8 + 1 = 9) on the Taylor menu.  Risotto balls with marinara are also available, and maybe one or two other small things.  The 8+1 is $11, a bargain for ballpark prices, and tasted exactly like I remember the 9th Street tasting.  Both times I ate there, the lines were considerably shorter than most other concession lines.  Here's hoping I get to buy another one at the park next week!

(Maybe this is a better fit for the Eating at Nationals Park thread, so please move if desired)

P.S., I think I saw that a Grazie, Grazie! had opened at the Wharf, as well.

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