SAN DIEGO -- If you’ve found yourself walking or driving through the eastern portion of Hillcrest in recent months, you’ve likely taken note that some pretty amazing restaurants are popping up.
And if you happen to be vegetarian, vegan or just otherwise heath conscious, you’ll be pleased to learn that Pita Jungle has a menu suited to your lifestyle.
“We’re not just a pita place, or a fast-casual counter service restaurant,” said Sandra Portney, Pita Jungle Hillcrest co-owner. “We’re a full service restaurant with a big menu that is based off the Mediterranean diet. Everything is made fresh in our kitchen every day.”
The menu is expansive, to say the least. If you take a peek at their selections, you’ll note a wide range of offerings, including several varieties of hummus, falafel, fresh-made salads, hot and cold pita sandwiches, vegetarian and vegan burgers, wood fired pizzas, smoothies and desserts. They also offer craft beers and boutique wines, many of which you can’t find in your local supermarket.
“The menu is absolutely addictive. I’ve been eating there for over seven years. The food is outstanding and we are well priced and serve large portions,” Portney said, underscoring Pita Jungle’s commitment to freshness and quality.
The restaurant may be new to Hillcrest but that’s not to say it’s without a rich and vibrant history. Pita Jungle was founded by business partners Bassel Osmani, Nelly Kohsok and Fouad Khodr in Phoenix, Ariz. more than 18 years ago and has since become one of the most beloved dining destinations in the city. Its overwhelming success there, Portney said, is why she and her business partner decided to open a franchise location in Hillcrest.
“San Diego is like a sister city to Phoenix; it’s where Phoenix spends its summer vacation,” she said. “It’s a vibrant palace and the people are very similar and live a laidback lifestyle. It’s not pretentious and there is a lot of familiarity.”
The next step involved scouting locations. Part of that process, she said, involved having lots of conversations with local foodies, and getting as much input as they could as to which neighborhood would be the best fit for Pita Jungle.
“Hillcrest was the overwhelming response,” Portney said. “Pita Jungle is more your neighborhood restaurant. It has a very artsy and urban vibe to it.
“When we started looking along University Avenue, we really liked the urban feel of it,” she said. “The more time we spent there the more we saw it was a really cool neighborhood with a strong community feel. It just seemed like a perfect fit for us.”
If you’ve ever been to Pita Jungle, that statement likely resonates. Seeing a yuppie couple seated next to a bohemian vegan, who may be seated one table over from a group of people in business suits is not all that uncommon.
And considering the establishment is extremely dog friendly, it’s also a good fit for Hillcrest.
“We have a water bowl and a cookie bowl located next to our patio. This way your dog can have something to eat and drink while you’re enjoying your meal,” Portney said. “Being part of a community means taking care of all the family members, dogs too. That’s just the vibe of Pita Jungle. We love people for who they are and what makes them unique, and we look forward to being part of the community for a very long time.”
For more information on Pita Jungle, visit the restaurant at 1045 University Ave. or visit the website HERE.
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