Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Throwdown: Al-Tarboush vs. the Vine Battle for the Chicken Schwarma Title

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Chicken schwarma from the Vine and Al-Tarboush Deli. | Cheryl Baehr
  • Chicken schwarma from the Vine and Al-Tarboush Deli. | Cheryl Baehr

Juicy, spit-roasted chicken, creamy tahini sauce and fresh herbs rolled into a soft pita -- it's hard to imagine a more perfect lunch than chicken schwarma. We sampled versions from the Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market (3171 south Grand Boulevard; 314-776-0991) and Al-Tarboush Deli (602 Westgate Avenue, University City; 314-725-1944) to see how these Mediterranean sandwiches stack up against one another.

See Also: Thursday Throwdown: Clash of the (Gyro) Titans

The Vine Chicken schwarma from the Vine arrives neatly rolled into a pressed and toasted thin pita. Inside, the wrap contains hunks of herbed white-meat chicken, sliced tomatoes and tahini sauce. The dish's standout ingredients are the julinenne-cut sweet pickles. Their fragrant, perfume-y flavor permeates the schwarma and adds a snappy crunch.

Al-Tarboush Deli Taken out of its butcher-paper wrapping, Al-Tarboush's chicken schwarma is a mess. The reason for the not-so-pretty presentation, however, is its mix of fillings: cubed, marinated chicken breast, tomatoes, red onions, parsley, pungent garlic spread and so much tahini sauce that it dribbles down the eater's arm. It's a small price to pay.

The Winner: Al-Tarboush Deli For sheer ease of eating, the Vine is a better-built wrap. The schwarma contents are tightly bound into the crisp, toasted pita, making it an easy grab-and-go option. The sweet pickles, classic in many traditions, add a pleasant, floral touch and texture to the wrap. However, Al-Tarboush's mouth-puckering, garlic spread and creamy tahini pair to form an ambrosial sauce. The zesty marinated chicken and cool, fresh parsley make your mouth dance with flavor-induced joy. Just don't take this tasty wrap out of the paper.

Follow Cheryl Baehr on Twitter at @CherylABaehr. E-mail the author at

Tags: ,

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation