Many years ago, I was visiting a friend on the West Mountain and we were looking for something to eat. My friend told me “Actually, that gas station around the corner has pretty good wraps.” It seemed like a good option, but we ended up getting 50 cent frozen sausages at Food Basics because we didn’t have jobs.
Years later I had a job on the West Mountain. I’d typically get my gas at Pioneer, it’s a good gas station and usually a cheaper one. One day I had to pay inside and saw there was a food counter. I remembered my friends words, and, when I realized it was shawarma, I bought one. I’ve been back since.
When you walk in you’ll see your typical gas station fare on your right, Hostess snack cakes and cigarettes and the like. On your left, you’ll find a fully operational shawarma station. The gentleman behind the counter will either be working away fulfilling orders, or outside smoking. He’s friendly, occasionally a little crass, and very proud of his craft. You’ll often hear an exchange like “Can I get some parsley on that?” followed by “You don’t want parsley on that. You want the parsley, I’ll put the parsley. But trust me boss, you don’t want the parsley on that.” He’s committed to his vision of truly great shawarma.
The toppings are pretty typical for shawarma: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and turnip. He’ll walk you through each one and not offer the other things behind the counter for other dishes (parsley). They seem to have run out of room in the kitchen for pita bread, so you may have to pass a bag over the counter. Then your sandwich gets put on a sandwich grill for a few minutes and you go across the station to pay for your shawarma and maybe a tank of gas.
Folks, this is a terrific shawarma. The chicken is crispy from the spit, and seasoned perfectly. The veggies play their supporting role, softened nicely from the grill. The sauces deliver a great flavour without making a mess. The garlic is thick and purely garlic. The hot sauce is rich with pepper flavour and enough heat that you can feel it but not suffer from it. All lovingly wrapped in a pita that nails the balance between falling apart and being tough to bite through. All lovingly wrapped again in foil, which I find to be a great way to package shawarma, you can tear it off as you go.
Phoenicia Food Express is the best shawarma in Hamilton. A true diamond in the rough. People slaving away for the Pioneer Energy corporation finding a way to live their dream of making great food for people. Go to this gas station and buy a great shawarma (get the chicken). Go into all things in life with an open mind, you never know what beautiful things you’ll come across. 10/10.
3 thoughts on “Phoenicia Food Express”
I tried this place for the first time a couple weeks ago and I regret living on the West Mountain for as long as I have without having tried it sooner. I used to go to Safin grill but this place takes over top spot in my go-to shawarma list.
What a cute take away (pun!?) at the end 🙂