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Roll It Up: Downtown food gets a little faster 

Just a few months ago the proliferation of high-end restaurants combined with the closing of many less-expensive eateries had more than a few locals lamenting

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Just a few months ago the proliferation of high-end restaurants combined with the closing of many less-expensive eateries had more than a few locals lamenting about the dining scene downtown.

"Not enough lunches under $7 to choose from", "too few inexpensive places to grab a casual table service dinner" and "downtown has become a bastion of special occasion restaurants" are some of the complaints I heard on a regular basis. Fast forward to today and there are two new spots promising quick, inexpensive food for all three meals-but they may not be what diners were hoping for.

The word is out that there is a Subway opening up in a Bond Street location that has been vacant for more than four months. It's not as bad as having a Micky D's downtown, but it's close. Subway is a chain based out of Connecticut with 29,907 franchised restaurants in 87 countries, serving an inexpensive product that has few (if any) local roots. I'm not saying I've never indulged in a Subway six incher-as far as fast food goes it's not a bad choice. Still, it is fast food.

The other newcomer is The Pita Pit-a sort of Subway of Mediterranean food. Originally a Canadian company, Pita Pit has over 200 locations through Canada and the USA. Their tag line is "Fresh thinking, healthy eating" and their claim to fame is staying open until the wee hours, which is reason to brag in a place like Bend where most restaurants cater their hours to the dinner rush and not much more.

The Pit, as I will affectionately call it, is located around the corner from what was Bluefish Bistro. Tables are set up on the Brooks Street alley and the newly overhauled interior is staffed with college-aged employees. Music thumps overhead as customers peruse the huge hanging menu. Once you've chosen your pita, you work your way down the line saying "yah" or "nay" to everything from jalapeños to ranch dressing. You can add all the usual sandwich stuffings plus more exotic ingredients like pineapple, feta cheese and ancho chipolte sauce. Service is quick, and in less than ten minutes you'll be walking away with your pita, rolled neat and tidy in drip-catching paper.

On my recent trip to the eatery, I took a friend who recently moved from Flagstaff where she was familiar with the Pita Pit's food. We started with a Mango Tango ($3.95) smoothie which incorporated frozen yogurt, mango juice and frozen strawberries - pink and cold, but rather lifeless as far as smoothies go.

We then ordered a variety of pitas-the Babaganoush ($5.50), the Falafel with hummus ($6.70), Turkey ($5.95) and the Aloha ($6.15). The babaganoush and falafel pitas were average at best. There wasn't enough babaganoush to adequately taste the spread and the falafel (chick pea fritters) was dry. My dining partner enjoyed his Aloha, a combination of ham, pineapple and chicken. The turkey was mediocre, although my friend did comment that the food at the Bend Pit was better than what she remembered in Flagstaff.

The day we were there it was a bit past the lunch rush, but business was consistent. Being able to customize your sandwich from beginning to end does have its appeal and being able to control portions is also nice. While I gazed at the thin, pale slices of tomatoes and the canned jalapeños I wondered if it's better to have the ability to create your own custom sandwich and get it in under ten minutes with sub-par ingredients or wait a bit longer for a meal that tastes authentic and puts more money back into our local economy. Then again, where else are you going to get semi-healthy food at 3am? Pita Pit is one more convenient place for quick fuel- it may not be local ingredients or great food, but it does what it claims to do.

Pita Pit

806 NW Brooks Street 389-7482, Sun - Weds 9:30am - 1am


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