Food News

Food News: Pita Jungle Is Rolling Out Food Trucks, Persian Garden Café Is Closing, and More

The 20-year-old Persian Garden Café will be closed by the end of January.
The 20-year-old Persian Garden Café will be closed by the end of January. New Times Archives
It's Friday, and we have a six-pack of metro Phoenix food news to catch you up on the week’s events.

Persian Garden Café Is Closing at the End of January

You have just two weeks to eat Koobideh Kabobs and say goodbye to Persian Garden Café in west Phoenix. The Persian restaurant at the courtyard plaza at 15th Avenue and Thomas Road will close after Saturday, January 30. The cause, aside from a COVID-related dip in sales, is an increase in rent from Scottsdale-based real estate developers Arizona Partners, according to The Arizona Republic. Persian Garden Café was opened by Mahmoud and Afsaneh Jaafari in 2001, which would have made this its 20th year in business.

click to enlarge The bar at UnderTow's current location. - GRACE STUFKOSKY
The bar at UnderTow's current location.
Grace Stufkosky

Arcadia’s UnderTow Space Will Now Be …

The underbelly of Sip Coffee and Beer at 3620 East Indian School Road was once famously home to UnderTow. But since the tiki bar moved in with its parents next door at Century Grand (with a second location coming in 2021 to Agritopia in Gilbert), there’s an opportunity for a new venture in the subterranean space. The petite spot will soon be 36 Below, another basement bar serving extremely high-end cocktails from the looks of it. According to ABC15, 36 Below will be overseen by Sip’s owner Josh Katz, his business partner Maurice “Moe” Murillo, and mixologist Sheldon Wiley — also known for being a Guinness World Record-holding super-fast bartender. The opening is set for March.

click to enlarge Applications are now being accepted for the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Applications are now being accepted for the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

JBF Aids Black and Indigenous American-Operated Businesses

This week (specifically Monday, January 11), applications opened for the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans. “Food and beverage businesses that are majority-owned by Black or Indigenous individuals” could receive $15,000 in grants if the application is received by 3 p.m. on Friday, January 22. JBF plans to offer 18 grants (in the first round), or three to six different regions (Arizona being the fifth region). For more information and to apply, see the JBF website.


click to enlarge A few 20-foot PJ food trucks are set to launch in February 2021. - PITA JUNGLE
A few 20-foot PJ food trucks are set to launch in February 2021.
Pita Jungle

Pita Jungle Will Soon Have a Food Truck Fleet

Local restaurant group Pita Jungle is set to start sending some 20-foot food trucks out onto Valley roads starting in February. They'll be enabled with geo-location, allowing you to access their whereabouts through third-party delivery providers or simply summon them to your Phoenix-area home. There will be a tight menu of PJ starters, salads, pitas, sandwiches, bowls, and desserts, as well as food truck-only items ideal for travel (like sandwiches). The trucks will also soon be available for corporate or private events.

click to enlarge Luda Can’t Cook can be streamed starting Thursday, February 25. - DISCOVERY+
Luda Can’t Cook can be streamed starting Thursday, February 25.
discovery+

Ludacris Has a Cooking Show Coming Up

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges managing to stay relevant over so many years is a talent in and of itself. But despite one of his albums being titled Chicken-n-Beer, Ludacris is apparently lost in the kitchen. “I absolutely love food and have always appreciated the art of cooking, but I can’t lie — I have no idea what I’m doing in the kitchen,” he says in a press release. “I’m on a mission to change that and master one cuisine at a time – it’s going to be delicious.” So, he’s starring in the show Luda Can’t Cook, where James Beard Award-nominated Chef Meherwan Irani teaches Luda some challenging Indian dishes. And Phoenicians can stream it starting Thursday, February 25, on discovery+.

click to enlarge Salad and Go is not messing around in 2021. - SALAD AND GO
Salad and Go is not messing around in 2021.
Salad and Go

Salad and Go Is Opening 21 More Spots in 2021

And one final quick bite: The rapidly growing, drive-thru-focused, local salad chain Salad and Go is not messing around this year. Known for inexpensive to-go salads and starting its employees at $15 an hour, the restaurant vows to open 21 new locations in 2021. There’s even a hashtag: #21for2021. Openings are planned for Peoria, east Mesa, Avondale, Casa Grande, Tucson, and even Texas (though the specific town has yet to be announced).
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano