Tucked along Greenville Avenue in Dallas is a humble abode with colorful facade of faded blue, white and red paint and curlicue-lettered windows. There’s a sign towering above it that reads, in all capital letters, “Kostas Cafe.”
Inside, the dining room is cozy and warmly lit. The walls are covered in memorabilia and artwork from Greece. The blue and white-clothed tables look like they could have come straight out of one of the paintings.
The restaurant is a 27-year-old Dallas establishment, and it draws a crowd of devoted regulars each week that helps keep it in steady business. I wrote about owner Kostas Ioannides for my college newspaper, and befriended a wonderful man in the process.
The menu offers a decent selection of popular Greek dishes. Kostas says one of his specialties is the avgolemono, a creamy yellow soup that tastes sweetly of lemon balanced with homemade chicken stock. I’ve heard about this soup. People around here swear by this soup. The aroma alone is reason enough to order a cup or bowl the size of your face.
The Greek Combo is served with tapas-sized portions of spanakopita, dolma, souvlaki, broiled shrimp, and moussaka, plus potatoes and green beans on the side, which I would avoid. It’ll probably leave you with leftovers for inspired snacking the next day.
The difference with Kostas’ dolma is the grape leaf; drizzled with egg and lemon sauce, it’s smooth, not bitter. The beef and rice inside are juicy and flavorful.
The phyllo dough on the spanakopita is crispy and flaky. The middle is quite dense and creamy, if a little mild in flavor.
In addition to other dishes on the menu, like shrimp scampi, gyro, and lamb chops, Kostas has a special menu of fish entrees to choose from. These include snapper, red fish, sole and salmon. For $16-$20, the portions are generous. Preparations include Greek-style with herbs, covered with lemon-butter sauce, or blackened.
Kostas prefers the blackened snapper. His favorite dish on the menu is, fittingly, Kostas Favorite; Greek salad, tossed in a light dressing, and topped with broiled shrimp and tender lamb chops.
If there’s one thing Kostas doesn’t want his patrons to miss, it’s the galactobouriko – that is, warm honey-milk custard in crisp phyllo dough, available only on weekend evenings.
Being at Kostas’ is like coming over to his house for dinner. Everyone gets a seat at the chef’s table.