State Fairs are often an afterthought. A relic of times past when most of us lived in rural areas and guessing the weight of a pumpkin was the best entertainment of the month. They offer variations on the same rides, foods and entertainment that you find at your local Memorial Day Carnival or County Fair and, I mean, how many people even go to those? But the Minnesota State Fair is so far from an afterthought that it seems to be on the minds of Minnesotans for the 50 weeks of the year in which it is not in operation. Plans are made, new foods are devised and longed after; then, just like that, it’s over again. This year, however, the Unvegan paid a visit to see how it would all stack up.
It is a very rare occasion in which I make a meal out of fries. It is even more rare that this happens at a Greek restaurant. Yet, when Pitta Souvli in Chandler offered up a special called Chipotle Gorgonzola Cheese Gyro Fries, I couldn’t resist. There was just one problem: nowhere in the description of the fries were tomatoes mentioned. And yet, as you can tell by the picture to the left, there were obviously tomatoes involved.
I grew up spoiled when it came to Greek food. I mean, Detroit even has a Greektown and I’m not sure you can say the same for any other city anywhere. Recently, though, I found myself picking up some Greek food from Saba’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Phoenix and and was intrigued not just by the classic stuff, but by the unique twists I found there.
One of the greatest regrets of my life is failing to capture a better picture at lunch at Little Daddy’s. You see, Little Daddy’s is a Greek-style diner in Southfield, Michigan, with locations in Taylor and Bloomfield Hills as well. It’s kind of like a Coney Island, but more Greek, which means they serve up saganaki. Saganaki is not a misspelling of the Japanese city of Nagasaki. No, it is a flaming cheese.
Growing up in the Detroit area, it was pretty easy to take Greek food for granted. There is literally a Greektown in Detroit and Greek food can be found in every suburb. LA, however, is not so fortunate in this Mediterranean fare. Thus, I was pretty excited when I was invited out to the Good Greek Grill‘s new location in Hollywood for a free sampling of their food.
As a man from the Detroit area, I was pretty spoiled by Greek food growing up. Thus, I am pretty skeptical when I encounter the stuff anywhere else, especially in Midtown Manhattan, which is not exactly known for good food. Nonetheless, my brother-in-law recommended stopping in to Souvlaki GR and I joined to find essentially the smallest Greek restaurant in history with enough charm to get my hopes up.
In a land where they pronounce gyros like the beginning of gyroscope, a friend of mine never shuts up about the greatness of the gyros at a place called The Greek Gourmet in Squirrel Hill. The Greek Gourmet, by the way, is more of a quickie Greek market than a restaurant, seeing as it only seems to serve gyros alongside its packaged hummus, tzatziki, pita and whatever else you may expect from a Greek grocer.
Downtown Pittsburgh might have some shiny new restaurants, there are still some spots that remind me of my native Detroit. One of these is Mike & Tony’s Gyros, a Greek place that has American favorites like burgers as well. As we stumbled our way to a Pirates game, this seemed like the best place to stop and grab some much-needed food. We were met by a griddle, spools of meat and smiling faces that told us of an $8 special including a gyro (painfully pronounced like gyroscope), fries and a drink.
Faced with the undesirable need to stay in Johannesburg for a night, my lady and I stayed at a place Emperor’s Palace nicknamed “The Vegas of Africa.” We weren’t interested in the gambling aspect, but we were happy about the fully-enclosed nature of the place in a city we had heard could be treacherous. As for the Las Vegas part, our hotel was a part of a large complex of hotels and there was a single Caesar’s Palace-esque casino in the middle of it all. It’s replete with a fountain, partly-cloudy skies painted on the ceiling, shopping and a variety of restaurants. Except that it’s tiny. Like slightly bigger than an average mall food court. Nonetheless, it has the look down and had some good-looking restaurants.
Sometimes the best way to find out about a new restaurant it to simply see it and decide you want to try it out. No research, no recommendation. That’s how I ended up at Firehouse Restaurant in Tarzana, a Greek place whose sign stating “GYRO” dwarfs the sign with the actual name of the restaurant. Being from Michigan, I have a pretty strong opinion about Greek food and I was more than a little worried that I was going to leave disappointed.