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Pita Pit

In a word: Closer to the pits than a necessary pit stop.

The specs: #0640  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site, Twitter, Pita Pit on Urbanspoon

Latest Pita Pit news and reviews

Chris ate a pita, but we failed to get the details.
JM ate the Dirty Badger with chips and a fountain drink.
Marijka ate the falafel.
Marissa ate a custom combo.
Nichole ate the hummus pita.
Ryan ate the gyro.
The bill was about $8/person, plus tip.
Marissa gave Pita Pit a B+; JM gave Pita Pit a B; Chris, Nichole and Ryan gave Pita Pit a C+; Marijka gave Pita Pit a C (see our grading rubric).

Pita Pit is a national sandwich chain with a Madison outpost just off State Street. The storefront in the Gilman Street flatiron is deceptively tiny - there's plenty of seating in the fittingly abysmal basement. (A peek through an open door revealed concrete walls and reminded Ryan of the back hallways of a mall.) Yet, Pita Pit's small footprint makes the ground floor almost painful to navigate. We haven't seen an order process this tangled since dinner at defunct Delitalia, i.e., you stand in two lines that must occupy the same space.

Pita Pit made their menu local by including a "Dirty Badger" pita, basically Philly cheesesteak components plus jalapenos, hot sauce, and hash browns. This sandwich turned out to be only so-so and JM got it sans peppers - even with just the hot sauce it warmed his mouth. A number of breakfast pitas on the menu also feature hashbrowns for that efficient Fat Sandwiched delivery method.

The secret sauce (spicy vinaigrette) was the best part of Nichole's hummus and vegetable pita, though it was the likely source of a very powerful garlic flavor. Likewise the tzatziki was a high point of Ryan's appropriately-themed gyro pita: 

A direct comparison with Parthenon would be unfair, because Pita Pit isn't strictly a greek/gyros kind of place, but I will say thumbs up to Pita Pit for the ability to take the raw ingredients of a gyro and customize it with feta cheese or other ingredients (which I did); thumbs down for a blandly flavored filling from the fridge that was reheated on the grill. I think the biggest disappointment was that it's just the fillings that hit the grill, and the pitas go straight from their plastic bag and into service -- no grilling, no steamer, no warming tray.

Marijka's falafel was a disappointment, especially considering its natural fit with the pita theme. The falafel balls were from a freezer bag. Squishing them on the grill with some oil served to heat them up but also to dry them out, and failed to get even the tiniest hint of a crispy exterior (the best part of falafel, right?).

Pick Pita Pit if:

  • You like to customize your meals - Marissa used the online build a pita tool which got her exactly what she wanted, and streamlined the ordering process.
  • You're watching nutritional information. Their facts are posted everywhere in the store and on the website.
  • You like the Subway experience but want more variety and have a little more to spend.
  • You like fresh avocado, thin and soft pita wraps, and over a dozen sauces and dressings in color-coded squeeze bottles that just might be in ROYGBIV order.

Pita Pita unwrapped

Perhaps pass up Pita Pit if:

  • You're a vegetarian. Marijka's pita construction took three attempts because of sloppy grill technique that mixed her falafel with bits of chicken.
  • You have food allergies. See above.
  • You expect (not unreasonably) to get tahini at a place with "pita" in the name. Inexplicably, there was none available.

Pitas and chips

While we were underwhelmed, we were lucky to have good company and were happy to wolf down our food so we could check out the Our Tiny Friends and Foes exhibit at Overture, which Marissa and Nichole had serendipitously contributed to (there are some nice shots of the crafty microbes on Flickr).

In summary, Pita Pit will survive as long as the best sandwiches in town continue to be made at places far from State St., like Mildred's. If there's no deli around and your other option is Subway, Pita Pit might be a good alternative.

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