While wandering the Hermosa Pier in search for some sort of food to eat, the girlfriend and I discovered a place called Mediterraneo. It seemed like one of the few places on the pier that would be a better restaurant than a bar, so we decided to check it out. While the name implies Greek food, we were surprised to find that this wasn’t some simple gyro and pita place (although that wouldn’t necessarily have been a bad thing). Instead, we found that they were a tapas place that didn’t limit itself to the Spanish style. In addition to Spanish, there was also a nice Greek influence that could be found in menu items like hummus, beets and feta cheese.
In North Hollywood there is a deli unlike any I had ever seen before. Rather than being filled with cold cuts, pastrami or Italian sandwiches, this deli has food with more of a Greek and Armenian flair. It is called Noosh Deli and although not the usual deli, I figured it had to be worth a try. Scanning the menu, I decided any Greek place had to have some good gyros, so I ordered their Beef Gyro Sandwich (with fries and a drink for 6.99). It came with lettuce, tomato, onion and yogurt sauce. I ordered without the veggies and waited 7 or 8 minutes until the sandwich was prepped and ready to go.
With nearly every visit back to Michigan (time permitting), there is a requisite stop at a Coney Island. You can’t drive more than a few miles in the metro Detroit area without hitting a Coney, and I’m pretty sure they are all awesome. My go-to Coney growing up was Leo’s, but sometimes convenience outweighs loyalty. So last time I was back in the homeland, we went to Lulu’s Coney Island in Walled Lake.
The phenomenon of the Coney Island is one of the greatest aspects of eating out in the Detroit area in Michigan. Completely unrelated to the actual Coney Island in New York, these restaurants are a result of the mixing of Greek and American foods, with the addition of the famous Coney Dog. Everyone has their favorite Coney Island, and sometimes the favorite one is just around the corner. I grew up with Farmington Coney Island half a mile away and would go at least once a week.
My usual drive to Las Vegas involves getting there as fast as possible to gamble and returning as fast as possible to cry into my pillowcase after losing copious amounts of money. This trip, however, was a bit different. Rather than a rush back home, we took our time and stopped for lunch.
Anyone who has made the drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas knows of the Mad Greek Cafe. Billboards seem to advertise the “Best Gyro” every few miles, so for our little road trip lunch, we thought a trip to Baker, California and a stop at the Mad Greek Cafe would be worth our while.
While in Michigan, one restaurant I had to visit was Olga’s Kitchen in West Bloomfield. The local chain has been around forever and has never attempted to veer away from the core factor that makes the restaurant a success. This core factor is Olga Bread and it is no ordinary bread. The closest thing it can be compared to is Greek pita, but to simply call it Greek pita would be an injustice. It is buttery and crispy and multiple levels of delicious. Olga’s uses it to make their sandwiches and as a side for their salads, but by far the best use of Olga Bread is in Olga’s Snackers.
A friend of mine suggested a random Greek place called Aliki’s Greek Taverna and I blindly followed him. We ended up close to the airport, on sketchy side street next to a motel. It would have been a great start to a horror story, but instead it was the start of a great meal. On the outside, Aliki’s looked like any old generic restaurant attached to a motel, and the inside wasn’t much better aside from the olive oil on display rather than a crane game.
We were approached by a tall man with an accent (the manager?) and handed some carry-out menus. Thinking this would be a perfect chance to look beyond the world of lamb gyros, I ordered the Chicken Gyros, but with only feta cheese and tzatziki sauce and no lettuce, tomatoes or onions. It also came with a side of hummus, fries or lemon potatoes. I chose the hummus, which is always a good test for Greek food. Our accented manager took our orders to the cook and then we waited.
I had wanted to go to Papa Cristo’s for a long time, but I just didn’t realize it. You see, the outside of the restaurant/market really makes no major reference to the name of the place. Instead, it just says “Greek Food.” When my friend suggested trying it, I complied without realizing it was the place I had driven by so many times.
Inside, the place has a miniature Greek market, a counter to order food at and a big room that can double as a dining room or banquet room. My first stop was the counter to place my order. We ordered some of the Octapodakia appetizer, which is grilled baby octopus. I also ordered the Kreatopita, deliciously described on the menu as a meat pie. For my main course, I decided to get back to the Greek basics and ordered the Gyros sandwich. This came with lettuce and tomatoes, so I ordered it without.
Edit: This location is gone, but Daphne’s as a whole is not.
Since the entire concept of Greek fast food is a bit confusing, I decided to check out Daphne’s Greek Cafe in Culver City and see what it was all about.
A quick perusal of the menu revealed the Pitaburger. This burger is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, because instead of a bun, they use authentic Greek pita. The differences between this burger and other burgers does not end there, however. Rather than typical burger toppings, this one comes with Greek offerings like feta cheese and for an additional bit of pocket change, you can get gyros added to the burger to make it as meaty as possible. This burger was not without fault in its intended version, though, as it also came with burger killers like lettuce and tomato.
A friend of mine recommended Gaby’s Mediterranean in Palms, so I thought I would check it out. They have a great outdoor seating area, so I was sure to grab one of those tables to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having in LA.
When I arrived and took a look at the menu, I was a little taken aback. Despite having many countries along its coast, I have always associate Mediterranean food with being predominantly Greek. Of course, Mediterranean could cover anything from Spanish to Egyptian, and in this case, I found the food to be quite Lebanese. I was surprised because I typically consider Lebanese food to be Middle-Eastern, but I was also happy because I’ve always liked Lebanese food. Did I say Lebanese enough in the last few sentences?