Can Slick Pita Jungle Out-Hummus Authentic Baiz Market?

hummus cans.jpg
Amy Silverman
Hummus is the glue -- sometimes almost literally -- that holds a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean meal together. Do it wrong, and indeed, it's a little like cement. And not in a good way.

But do it well and some of us will fill up on the chickpea dip long before the gyro or the kebabs hit the table. 

Wander the aisles at the super-authentic, off-the-beaten-path Baiz Market in Phoenix and you'll see that there's actually an entire aisle devoted to hummus. But today is about the stuff served behind the counter at Al-Hana, Baiz's take-out spot, which we're pitting (heh heh, get it? olive reference) against the hummus at Pita Jungle, the ubiquitous Valley chain that just sprouted a new location on Roosevelt and 3rd Avenue. 

What happened when we took the dip?
hummus baiz.jpg
Amy Silverman
Baiz's hummus.
Baiz Market
Walk into Baiz and you immediately forget you're on a dumpy side street in a desolate section of town. Lamb heads in the freezer section, entire animals in the butcher department and a bakery section that will make you feel like you died and went to Iran. There's even a full complement of groceries (even Diet Pepsi) so you can do your shopping.

The take-out counter (which features a dining section -- and don't worry, it's out of eyeshot) offers meat pies, salads, and grilled meats. And hummus. 

Our order of hummus was huge and beautiful -- drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika. It was good, but with a spinach pie waiting, we weren't tempted to lick the plate clean. The flavor was good -- garlicky enough to require two Altoids -- but the consistency was rough and for us, the oil was too much. It was served with two pitas, which were not stale but definitely not fresh. 


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Amy Silverman
Hummus at Pita Jungle.
Pita Jungle
Ah, the Roosevelt Pita Jungle. Long-anticipated, and we're not disappointed. This location shakes the chain's older spots' hippie charm in favor of sleek metal and spare surfaces. It's smooth and so is the hummus. Perfectly flavored, creamy with the right balance of garlic and lemon. And the pita was super-fresh.

The Winner
It might not be the most authentic -- but it was the most delicious. And no one anywhere enjoys a stale pita. Pita Jungle takes this week's prize.

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3 comments
Hummus
Hummus

the arabic food in arizona blows pita jungle is ok but its got nothing on genuine arabic food

Tarathemis
Tarathemis

I have been wondering how Pita Jungle's hummus would stack up --- for me it's the best I have ever had, hands down. Thanks for making my pedestrian taste buds feel just a bit smug. :)

(P.S.: for those who might be interested, you can get whole wheat pita bread at Pita Jungle. It's not mentioned anywhere on the menu, so you have to ask.)

Andrew Kno
Andrew Kno

Funny. Last time I was at the Tempe Pita Jungle I watched a server taking pitas out of a plastic wrapper (i.e. they were bought off-site) and rolling them in tin foil. I was disappointed initially, but my pita did seem plenty fresh, so who knows.

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