While we love to cook; at home, we also love to eat out. In Phoenix, it is really easy to find Mexican restaurants, but other ethnic restaurants are not as plentiful. We were extremely happy to be turned on to Pita Jungle. It is a local chain here in the Phoenix metro area and when they opened one up in Mesa, we just could not wait to try it. Here’s a review we wrote for a local newspaper a while back. Pita Jungle has since turned into one of our favorites.
It was lunchtime and I was famished. I wanted something different to eat. I had been to Pita Jungle in other towns but they recently opened one in Mesa and I wanted to try it.
Pita Jungle has an unpretentious dining room with tables and a separate bar area. You can see the kitchen from the entrance and I saw what appeared to be a pizza oven. I wondered why they would need one. My question was answered when I looked at the menu. There was so much more than what I consider ‘Mediterranean’ food. If you are not familiar with Mediterranean food, you might need a dictionary to know what you are ordering. Your wait staff will be more than happy to help you. Trust me, you will be satisfied with any choice you make.
I knew that I wanted hummus (a spread of mashed garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon), tsatziki (cucumber sauce), falafel (mashed garbanzo beans and sesame seed croquette), dolomades (stuffed grape leaves), pita bread….all the regular appetizers, but I did not find it on a single appetizer plate. Luckily, there is a combination plate found on the menu by the main dishes with all my favorites on it. We ordered that as a starter. The hummus was smooth and creamy as was the mildly-smoky baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant spread). Everything on the plate was tasty. Next time I might just order this as my main dish so I don’t have to share. While this dish is all vegetarian, it is not ‘vegetarian food’ if you know what I mean.
For my main dish I ordered a Mediterranean salad. It had grilled chicken, toasted pine nuts, corn, onions, parsley and feta cheese over mixed greens. It was topped with a tangy lemon vinaigrette. It was delicious and I have to say, they were not chintzy with the grilled chicken in the salad.
Even though I asked my husband to order something other than ‘the usual’, he just couldn’t resist ordering the Beef Gyro (pronounced yee ros) sandwich Who could wonder why. It was overflowing with grilled beef, tangy tsatziki sauce and onions, on grilled pita bread. Recommendation for this…ask for extra napkins. You will need them.
The meal we selected was so healthy that we knew we could have a little splurge. We were full but could not leave without tasting their baklava. Baklava has ground nuts, raisins, phyllo dough and honey, among other things. We ordered one to share. It is very good, but be forewarned; it is very sweet and is a diet buster.
Mediterranean food is known for its fresh flavors. Pita Jungle did not disappoint. Everything was made fresh and I’ll bet that if we go into the kitchen, we will not find a can opener anywhere.
There are so many great sounding items on their menu, including pizzas, Mexican items, and lots more Mediterranean dishes. While they have plenty of dishes containing meat, there is a huge choice of vegetarian items available, too. This place satisfies both the vegetarians and their carnivore dining partners. They also have lunch specials so be sure to ask about them.
Pita Jungle in Mesa is located at the 1850 W. Southern Ave. Their phone number is 480-615-7482. They are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. One word of caution. It is located across the street from Mesa Community College so during the school year, it can get very crowded.
For other articles and recipes, see Mesa Food Examiner. We will be posting some of our favorite restaurant reviews for Mesa and the East Valley soon, so keep watching.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Mesa? Leave us a comment. We would love to do a review on it and let others know how great it is. Remember, for our local gems to continue to survive, we have to share the details with others.