Pita Pockets and Lili’s Restaurant in Amherst rated among New England’s best by Yelp, to little surprise for – MassLive.com

Pita Pockets is a popular falafel and shawarma restaurant in Northampton, Amherst and Easthampton. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
For the owners of two Amherst restaurants, seeing their businesses on Yelp’s annual list of the best restaurants in New England was a welcome surprise.
It was less of a shock for their customers.
“I can’t believe it,” Emily Marraffa, of Amherst, first thought when she saw Mediterranean joint Pita Pockets lauded alongside the top restaurants in the region. Then she considered it some more. Of course, she could believe it.
Both Pita Pockets and Lili’s Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant serving the cuisine of the county’s Xi’an region, earned top marks from Yelp — the restaurant review website that last week released its 2022 list of the top 100 restaurants in New England. Lili’s, on North Pleasant Street in Amherst Center, placed at number 12. Pita Pockets, about two blocks up the road, was 54th.
Lili's Restaurant in Amherst, pictured Oct. 18, 2022. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
“My customers told me,” Lili Jia, the restaurant’s owner and namesake, said. “They said you’re one of the best in New England. Number 12. I was so surprised.”
“I’m not surprised,” said Paul Muller-Reed, of Sunderland, when told that the restaurant had earned distinction among the best in the Northeast as he waited for his lunch shortly after the doors opened Tuesday.
Yussef Khabout, whose family owns the Pita Pocket restaurants in Amherst, Northampton and Easthampton, pictured at the downtown Amherst location on Oct. 18, 2022. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
Muller-Reed’s friend brought him to Lili’s last month, claiming it was “the best Chinese food that he ever had.” The dumplings and fried rice had Muller-Reed hooked. On Tuesday, he was back for the same order — this time accompanied by his wife, Florence.
Yussef Khabout, whose father owns and operates Pita Pockets, said he always recognizes his regular customers. After Yelp released its list last week, he said new faces appeared from New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Eastern Massachusetts.
“I saw people I never have,” Khabout said.
Paul Muller-Reed, of Sunderland, is served his lunch at Lili's Restaurant in Amherst by Lili Jia, the owner, Oct. 18, 2022. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
Marraffa, stopping by Pita Pocket for lunch Tuesday, said she was new to the Pioneer Valley, but that the Middle Eastern restaurant had quickly become a favorite.
“My friends stop in all the time for me,” she said. “I’ve turned everyone I know on to it.”
The restaurant also has a downtown Northampton location owned by Khabout’s uncle, who expanded to Easthampton this spring. Famous for its falafel, shawarma, creamy hummus and fresh vegetables, Pita Pockets is among the most popular spots for Middle Eastern food in the area.
Pita Pockets is a popular falafel and shawarma restaurant in Northampton, Amherst and Easthampton. Employee Kris Fragata is pictured on April 4, 2022, the day the Easthampton location opened. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
Customers queued outside Pita Pockets' Easthampton location before it opened for the first time on April 4, 2022. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
Lili, originally from the Xi’an region, came to the United States about 23 years ago. She would cook at home, to the delight of a friend who told her the food was so good, she should start a restaurant. In early 2017, when her children had grown, she opened the kitchen and small dining room in the heart of Amherst.
Part of the appeal, Lili said, was that customers can see just a few feet across the counter to the stove where their meals come together. Peering over the divider, diners waiting at the restaurant’s handful of tables can see Lili or another chef perched at their station, whipping up twice-cooked pork with leeks and tofu or pan-fried scallion pancakes.
Part of the appeal of Lili's Restaurant, a popular Chinese food spot in Amherst, is watching from across the counter as the chefs whip up the meals just a few feet away from the tables. (Will Katcher/MassLive).
Lili’s favorite dish is the Number 13 — the hot and sour dumpling soup. For customers, it’s often the Biang Biang noodles — hand-pulled and sizzling, with cabbage, sprouts, scallions and pork.
In Yelp reviews, customers called Lili’s a “hidden gem.” “This place has to stay open forever,” one person wrote.
If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.
Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (User Agreement updated 1/1/21. Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement updated 7/1/2022).
Cookie Settings
© 2022 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local.
Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site.
Ad ChoicesAd Choices

source

About Merisa

Check Also

Easy 30-min. Mongolian Chicken Serbestvurus Food

Source by danielafera

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *