Budget Beat

Lunch Under $10 at Oliveo in Tempe

The plaza near the southeast corner of University and Rural drives in Tempe is full of great, cheap lunch choices for a college budget. Pho Nhat, Tsom and Delhi Palace all offer different cuisine and dietary options for the broke college kid. Heck, even Gus's Pizza, which we lovingly used to call Grease's in our college days, is good for a 4 a.m. pie delivery when nothing else is open.

When we saw that there was a new Greek place open in that plaza, we figured we had to try it since we haven't been disappointed thus far. Oliveo Grill has impressive hours, staying open until 3:30 a.m. and even delivering up until 3 a.m., which is a definite plus for any spot in the middle of ASU's prime drunk real estate. While the outside is clean, with bright green patio furniture, the second we walked inside we immediately got the feeling we should turn back

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We've had our fair share of pita sandwiches to the point where, for a while, the servers at Haji Baba's knew personal details about us and we knew to order our Kafta with the secret homemade pita.

For a new place, Oliveo was definitely dingy.

The girl at the register was unable to answer simple questions like "What comes on your Cyprus Salad?", so she just pointed to a more detailed menu than the large sign behind her, which was buried beneath some fliers on the counter.

We decided on the $6.44 lunch special, which comes with a choice of pita sandwich, fries and a drink. We got a lamb souvlaki pita with Greek fries and watched every table that came after us get served their meal first -- even parties of over six people. It wouldn't have been that bad if our test taste of first the iced tea and then just the water out of the fountain drink dispenser revealed a sour, bitter and dirty taste.

Drinkless, our meal finally arrived. The Greek fries were cold and stale, drenched in Greek dressing until soggy with flavorless, dry cheese sprinkled on top. The lamb souvlaki was cold, too, with a doughy-thick pita, which must be the Wonder Bread of the Middle East. Completely dissatisfied with the entire experience, price included, we left and will not be back. Hopefully the new wine bar concept joint, Salut, that was advertised all over Oliveo will be run with better care.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch