Who doesn't love IKEA? (Ignoring, for the moment, the prospect of sustaining a brain aneurysm from assembling your BORGSJÖ and finding a suspicious amount of important-looking parts left over when it's "finished"). The Tempe IKEA is so vast that it often takes a large chunk of your day to effectively meander down the somewhat invasively labelled paths, even if you sneakily take shortcuts through the bedding section. All of this can take a toll on your energy levels and there's no better place (or rather, no other place at all) to satiate your lust for some value-inspired food than the IKEA Restaurant & Café.
In true IKEA fashion, the prices are low – so low that there must be a catch: and there is. Except it's not a huge catch. To cut down on costs, presumably, and therefore prices, the IKEA Restaurant requires customers to queue up in an orderly fashion with a tray – much like boarding school – and go around the circuit picking up (by requesting from servers) what takes your fancy and paying for it at the end. It's really not a far cry from collecting your food at the pub, and it's a small price to pay – literally. For $1.50, you can grab a light breakfast. For $3 you can supersize to a large breakfast. Lunch can be enjoyed from only $5 with dishes like the vegetarian wrap with tomato chutney or a chicken Caesar salad, and you can even get fancy dishes like Salmon fillet with garlic and lemon aioli or pumpkin cannelloni with ricotta for a meagre $7.
Unlike, for example McDonalds, the price doesn't reflect quality – I was surprised at how good the food was, considering the price and the fact that it was served by lunch ladies with a ladle. The last time I went I had the lamb-shank with couscous for lunch. I was honestly flabbergasted at the quality of the meal. You wouldn't expect anyone to purposely visit IKEA for the food – unless you're a particularly avid connoisseur of budget Swedish furniture food – but for IKEA to have a monopoly on what you eat while wading through its dense tropical jungle (this isn't just a metaphor, as one particular section of IKEA Tempe will make clear), they've stuck with their unique philosophy and done pretty well.