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healthy tuna salad
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Pita Jungle - Desert Ridge

20910 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85050
Open all week 10:30am-10:00pm
480-473-2321 2 hours
April 2015 All year
$20-49 Phoenix Arizona
Website Food/Drinks General Restaurants
First review
Unless you live in Arizona or have visited there in recent years, it’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of Pita Jungle. But, if you are a local, it’s possibly a crowd favorite as the restaurant has a fairly cool vibe, the menu is on the healthier side, and the venue can double as a comfortable bar to grab a drink or watch a game. Pita Jungle is a casual restaurant that serves mainly Greek/Mediterranean cuisine tableside. You won’t find many fried options or food selections with off the chart calories here. More common items include pitas, wood-fired pizzas, salads, as well as various dips like hummus and baba ghanoush. Happy hour specials on tapas and bar drinks are offered from 3:00-6:00pm and again from 9:00pm till close.

The first Pita Jungle opened in Tempe in 1994. There are now 20 locations with 18 restaurants in Arizona and 2 in California. Each restaurant has a slightly different theme or design in keeping with the slightly bohemian nature of the place. The wait staff dresses very casually. At the Desert Ridge location, it’s an open environment with an industrial chic style. Seating is available inside or outdoors. Music was a mix of contemporary and alternative.

The restaurant was busy on a Sunday afternoon around 1:00pm, however there was still a modest choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Since it was April in Arizona, sitting indoors seemed like the way to go relative to baking in the sun. It was somewhat noisy inside close to the kitchen. Service was generally attentive and fast. There were a few service miscues, such as not bringing a replacement plate when it was requested, but these lapses were quickly addressed when the waiter was alerted. As for the food, a yellowfin tuna honey sesame salad was the strongest dish. It had a rich mix of fresh vegetables. The fish was properly cooked – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. A lavosh pizza was served flatbread style and included such toppings as tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and olives. The olives added a nice flavor kick but the pizza temperature was lukewarm. It ranked below the yellowfin tuna but was still decent. Slightly disappointing was a falafel pita with chickpeas, spices, cilantro and mixed greens. The chickpeas were much too dry and crunchy to be appetizing. Perhaps if they were doused with yogurt sauce, they might have been more edible. A side order of garlic mashed potatoes is sure to delight if you have a hankering for garlic. It was garlic on steroids, but the dish was hot and the texture was soft and the taste first rate. In the interest of curbing a bulging waistline, dessert was skipped. There were only a few selections, but the walnut baklava and turtle cheesecake beckoned tantalizingly.

The overall experience here was more favorable than not. While there was some variability in dish quality, it skewed closer to appetizing than distasteful. Also, there was enough dish variety to warrant a return simply to sample more of the offerings; the food combinations and ingredients were intriguing, especially if you are into lighter fare. Pita Jungle has a casual atmosphere too, so you can feel right at home here in jeans and sneakers.
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