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Wraps Xpress Is the Turkish Rose of Irvine

[Hole In the Wall] Inside this strip-mall restaurant is a great eatery desperate to express itself

There are now two Irvines in existence: the city of Don Bren's dreams— robo-communities, never-ending development and HOAs that fine homeowners for growing the wrong plants—and the multicultural oasis it has become over the past decade, the type of town in which Farsi and Korean are as common as English. The latter has saved Irvine from the many Stepford slurs thrown at it over the decades—but the former still lurks around, a reminder of how embarrassing the city can be to the rest of us Orange Countians (and let's not even get into the Great Park fiasco).

Wraps Xpress gingerly lives on the line between the two Irvines. It's a great Turkish restaurant desperately trying to pass itself off as a franchise opportunity. Employees are high-school- and college-age kids who wear polo shirts so orange even the Denver Broncos wouldn't dream of using them. Soft R&B plays on the soundtrack, music almost indistinguishable from the music piped into Chase Bank just across the shopping plaza, and the customers are the type of people to whom hummus must be explained, who must be goaded into trying a sandwich made with pita bread. "Na-an?" one man once asked, Bluetooth bolted into his ear. "Is that pronounced like The Flying Nun?"

Poor Wraps Xpress; its food is wasted on this lesser Irvine. The menu limits itself to the millennia-old tradition of a flatbread wrapped around a stuffing—in this case, pita bread freshly baked to order with the topping of your choice. An ingredient station à la the Chipotle assembly line is at the front so eaters can customize orders, but only go for a smear of hummus and yogurt—you shouldn't distract from the succulent splendor of the straightforward, Turkish-style meats. Foremost among which is doner, Anatolia's favorite meat: meat shavings like the shawerma enjoyed in Arabic restaurants, but more finely sliced, more buttery thanks to the drippings of fat that seep into each petal. The yogurt cools; the hummus adds earthiness. Wrapped in the slightly burnt, slightly crunchy bread, filling but not gut-extending, this meal needs a better name than a mere wrap,but how else to sell such ethnic food to Irvinites?

Location Info

Map

Wraps Xpress

6779 Quail Hill Parkway
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Irvine

Other wraps stay true to their Turkish roots—lahmanjun, a smearing of minced meats, is like a sausage pizza come to life, but sweeter due to cinnamon touches, while the zest of zaatar never bores. Wraps Xpress even offers desserts: four flavors of Turkish-style baklava called burma, each wrapped like cigars, gnarled and flaky and sweet, and a type of cheese éclair lightly dressed with pistachios. Remember this find when you overhear the workers glumly explain to some Ray-Ban-wearing lass what pita bread is.

This column appeared in print as "Xpress Yourself."

 
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13 comments
Grace B.
Grace B.

Love this place, almost good review except, they don't serve pita or naan bread. I think the reviewer had a little too big of an imagination. Also, as an Irvinite, I'm kind of offended...

Hfhhfhasdkfaslwieurhkajlsdg
Hfhhfhasdkfaslwieurhkajlsdg

Seriously, man? I like your column and think it's unique and a breath of fresh air - who doesn't like a good hole in the wall? But calling Irvine an embarrassment to the rest of OC? What's up with that? I am a white boy who moved to Irvine with my family from Texas when I was 7 - the year was 1984. Sorry to say, I love Irvine and still live here - after going to a UC school outside of Irvine and moving back. I'll do I miss a lot of the orange groves, particularly the ones around Irvine Blvd and Culver area, and all of those developments around Portola, etc. But calling Irvine an embarassment to the OC??.... I hope you were kidding. Irvine is the best city in the OC, as far as I'm concerned. As a side note - good review on Peter's Gourmade.

Phenommh
Phenommh

How about reviewing pepz pizza chris and raffi have a great procuct...good pizzas and sandwiches made with good quality ingredients.Tell them the camera guy mentioned them.they have 7 locations in oc

Mo_abdullajd
Mo_abdullajd

I know this isn't Yelp, but sorry Gustavo, if I didn't have such a miserable experience there, I wouldn't be publicly calling out a restaurant you reviewed. I hope the place succeeds (b/c it really is the only place with any potential soul in that part of Irvine) and maybe it was an OFF day, so helpfully these comments help them out.

For being "express" (not to mention the marketing materials there that state the wraps are done in 5-10 minutes), we waited nearly 40 minutes for 2 wraps, 10 minutes waiting at the counter to order (no line but a little busy) and 30 minutes for the wraps to come out. Giving the customer the choice of different toppings just slows down the whole process down and is a grating experience listening to people go through each topping one by one.

The price: I understand we're in Quail Hill so the rent is probably way too high for essentially a 'mom and pop' type place serving very unique (for the area) ethnic food (no matter how "cool" the paint job is) but these wraps are pretty much double the price for what you get in Anaheim's Gaza Strip (or "Little Gaza"). If the quality was up to par, maybe, but just a point worth mentioning, especially for the "Hole in the Wall" section. Two wraps, one bottle of water (tap is not an option, neither is a bathroom), cost $17. It's all relative whether it's expensive or not to you.

Lastly, and most importantly, maybe their oven wasn't working that day, but the bread came out raw. It wasn't fully cooked and one of the best parts of these meals is the bread. From reading Yelp, this was a problem in some of the negative reviews.

Again, hopefully they take these comments as helpful, I'm not trying to slander a restaurant because I really do love these pizza/wraps when done right. But if you live in Central Orange County (Tustin/Santa Ana), just drive to Anaheim for Zeit and Zaatar or Forn al Harra.

They are still new, our experience was 10 days ago, and hopefully they'll work these things out. Again, sorry, I know this isn't yelp.

John Smith
John Smith

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Ray
Ray

I'm glad to see you followed the LA Times lead in reviewing this gem.

Tiffany S
Tiffany S

It's funny you you always make fun of Irvine (and it is laughable) but so are a lot of OC cities including Santa Ana (it's really not that hip or dynamic) and Anaheim. It's all the same. San Diego is where it's at if you want to live in a real county with real diversity (North Park, South Park, Ocean Beach etc.)

Tim592
Tim592

How about listing the address?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Just like the Times followed us in reviewing Zait & Zaatar!

S. Britchky
S. Britchky

"How about listing the address?" What do you want, an egg in your beer? ;-)

From the elmomonster review a couple of months ago:

Wraps Xpress6779 Quail Hill PkwyIrvine, CA 92603(949) 464-8448

Jdizzy
Jdizzy

hi Gus, hope you are ready for the big game...how about sending me my TK gift card!

 
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