Mezze for Days

The simple blue-and-white, Grecian-esque atmosphere at The Little Greek in Carrollton, Texas, is clean and inviting, and the staff attentive. A cheery server took a few minutes to tell us his story of childhood memories in Greece, where he ate gyros every day after school and skipped his mom’s dinner and his chores in the field on account of an uncomfortably distended stomach.

If the gyros he enjoyed in Greece were anything like the ones at The Little Greek, I can understand. The lamb gyro I tried at the Tampa, FL location was a little salty, delicately spit roasted and sliced over salad or wrapped with tzatziki and onions inside warm, crusty pita bread. When in Rome/Greece, eat the gyro I guess. When in Texas, definitely eat the Herculean-size gyro.

I don’t know about you guys, but Greek salads and mezze – appetizers like hummus, pita bread, tzatziki – are one of my favorite smorgasbords. The spanakopita is monstrous and delicious, spinach and feta blended and stuffed between crispy baked and buttered layers of phyllo dough. But I’ve never been much of a fan of stuffed grape leaves, dolmades. I always found them too bitter and overpowering. But these grape leaves were steamed and filled with a generous amount of beef and rice filling seasoned with herbs, giving them a light, fresh and savory taste. The lemon sauce on the side for drizzling over the dolmades is a must.

Next we have the Greek salad, a universal recipe of romaine, tomatoes, peppers, red onions, cucumbers, feta and olives. What makes the Little Greek salad different are the Easter egg surprises of beets and two heavenly scoops of potato salad. The house-made dressing, sold in bottles at the register, is a blend of oil and vinegar with a slightly sweet taste. I certainly won’t be buying a bottle of it – I’ll stick with all natural EVOO and vinegar – but it brought out and balanced the flavors of the crisp vegetables, peppery onions and briney olives. The chicken on top was moist, tender and char-grilled to perfection. The serving sizes here are just right for a chain restaurant in Texas (a franchise originally hailing from Florida and now operating in several Southern states).

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The Little Greek is as authentic as it gets. For a Greek restaurant with a local history, located in Dallas closer to downtown, check out Kostas Cafe, a humble Greenville Ave establishment serving the down-home equivalent of real Greek cooking. At this rate, we owe Greece a Little Texas and a lot of barbecue.

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