Budget Beat

$10 Lunch at Pita Jungle

If you've lived in the Valley for more than five minutes, you're probably familiar with Pita Jungle. The place has overrun metro Phoenix (in a good way), with more than a dozen locations. Most are pretty hippie-dippie, a la the original location on Apache in Tempe. But the new(ish) PJ on Roosevelt St., in the historic Gold Spot, is more hip than hippie.  

In fact, at the downtown Phoenix location you'll most likely be rubbing elbows with the shirt and tie crowd during the lunch hour- - and no, that's not a figure of speech. This place gets seriously crowded, with diners packing into the family-size booths and spilling into walkways from high tops and bars.

Is braving the jungle of 9-to-5ers worth the trouble? Find out after the jump.

We managed to escape the worst of the rush by stopping in around 1 and were happy to snag a table inside, after making a mental note to come back in the fall to enjoy the great atmosphere on the back patio.

The menu offered a large selection of dishes for those aiming to stay under the $10 mark with everything from burgers to pizzas and of course, a large selection of both cold and hot pitas.

We stuck with water and splurged instead on a side Greek salad. Entrée: the Mediterranean roasted chicken pita. Our lunch date, a true carnivore, went for the beef gyro pita and a salad as well.

The service was prompt and friendly, and our portions were very generous. As good as our meals were, we both left food on our plates. The salads were less than life changing, although we did take particular notice of the freshness of the tomatoes. 

What will keep us coming back for more is a refreshingly successful combination of atmosphere, expense (or rather, lack thereof) and accessibility.

Living and eating downtown can often mean a struggle between the doldrums of convenience and the hassle of, well, everything else. Pita Jungle's great location and comfortable ambiance certainly make it a new option for our lunch spot rotation.

Why waste change on parking when you can put it toward a plate of jalapeño hummus?

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria