By the time you read this post, Roti Mediterranean Grill will be open for breakfast.  If  you hurry, you might still beat the rush to be one of the first to try a sandwich wrapped in laffa or tucked into a house-baked pita pocket.  Even if you’re not enough of an early bird to check out their breakfast offerings, you may want to check out Roti in NoMa sooner rather than later.

Why?  Roti is offering up spit-roasted meats and freshly made toppings that will make up for all those mediocre gyros and kebabs you’ve settled for in the past.  They’re even baking their own pita bread on site.  And they’re delivering all these big sit-down style flavors at carryout prices.

There was a time when the area north of Union Station on First Street, NE, was an expanse of vacant lots and dilapidated buildings.  These days, with multiple federal offices and other large employers moving into the area, there are new dining options opening every week.  Even so, Roti Mediterranean Grill is poised to stand out among its neighbors.

So what’s Roti all about?  Imagine Chipotle with the flavors of the eastern Mediterranean.  Got it?  Now check out that picture to the right.  Pretty close, right?  On the surface, Roti’s quick-service, choose-your-own-adventure style is similar to that of the ubiquitous burrito place.  But their flavors are miles apart.

Check out some of what Roti will be offering when they open today after the jump.

Let’s start with breakfast.  You can choose from a trio of sandwiches for $3.50 each.  What’ll it be?  The Conquistador, with chicken, eggs, avocado, feta and spicy sauce?  The vegetarian Shauk-Shouka?  Or a Steak Roti with peppers, onions and feta?  Or maybe you’ll forgo the sandwiches altogether and opt for a bowl of hot oatmeal with up to three toppings (also $3.50).

Of course Roti’s breakfast options are just an opening act for the main event: lunch.  Picture rotating skewers of sliced steak and chicken, the unmistakable aroma of sizzling meat making you hungry while you wait in line to place your order.  Whichever you choose, a portion is expertly sliced off and served one of three ways: in a sandwich (pita or laffa again), on a plate with Roti rice and three toppings, or atop a salad of mixed greens and your choice of toppings.  The sandwiches are $6.75 each and the salads and plates run $7.75.

Trying to be a little bit healthier in your dining choices?  Then you’ll want to skip the roti (the rotating meats) and turn to the kabobs, instead.  The chicken kabob is made with skewers of chicken breast and the steak kabob is grilled sirloin.  Both are lower-fat options than their sliced counterparts.

You can also opt for falafel as your protein of choice, or go the vegetarian route with roasted vegetables.  In all cases, your next challenge is to find that perfect combination of toppings and sauces to bring everything together without overwhelming the bread.  Choices include hummus, cous-cous, feta cheese, kalamata olives and baba ghannoush.  If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the zhug, a fiery red sauce derived from hot red peppers.

This store represents the second location in Washington for corporate-owned Roti, which is based in Chicago.  They’ve got an aggressive expansion on tap, with plans for as many as three more local outposts by the summer.  And they supplement their in-store sales with a robust catering option that includes wraps, salads and platters for groups of all sizes.

Although we haven’t had a chance to sample the flavors yet, Roti sounds like a great low-key meal option that I’m looking forward to checking out once the crowds have died down.

Roti Mediterranean Grill
1275 First Street, NE
Washington, DC
Roti Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon