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Oct 21, 2001 03:20 PM

Greek Eats????

  • t

I love Greek food, music and go to festivals once or twice a year in order to listen, dance and eat but would love to find a restaurant in SF or the East Bay that had good food and music?? Any one with ideas? I know about some of the more expensice Greek places but I'm looking for something different , perhaps a little more down home....Thanks!

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  1. Don't know about offering music, but there have been recent mentions on this board for Myconos and Yianni, both in SF.

    1. Sad to say, there are no real Greek restaurants in the Bay area. Once there was Minerva on Eddy St, but alas, I think the Health Dept caught on. There once was a small Greek place at China basin owned by George, the owner of the old Polo's. Rented to real Greeks. Rent hikes caused their demise, and all we get are high-end trendy psuedo-Greek restaurants. I have a number of friends in the restaurant business who agree that we are in dire need of such a place, but it is a risk. It does seem that SF should have a place like Chicago's Parthenon, or like those in Detroit. There have been places in the past that were close (Cairo, Omar Khayaam's, etc), but the yuppy foodies have taken over, and feel cheated unless they can spend at least $300 per meal.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jim H.

        I used to enjoy Salonika on Polk Street, which is now Yabbies. They had wonderful soup that you could get to take out on those chilly, foggy nights when all you wanted to do is hunker down in your jammies, slurp soup, watch TV and go to sleep under the comfy quilt.

        1. re: Caryl Aaron

          I'd forgotten all about that one! Like far too many restaurants, it was, in my experience, consistent only in its inconsistency!

        2. re: Jim H.

          I loved Minerva!

          First Greek meal I ever ate in my life--a long time ago--I threw up from all the extremely heavy olive oil. It was somewhere in the Times Square area, if memory serves.

          Seems to me I've eaten really good octopus at Kokkari--similar in prep to some versions I've enjoyed at tapa places like Alegrias; in fact, that, the mezze plate, and the incredible if probably inauthentic yogurt sorbet were my favorites there. Not been back for a while.

        3. j
          Judith Hurley

          I've heard reports of a little place on Chestnut (Mezes maybe?) and would like to hear from anyone who has tried it. The Greek Orthodox church on Davis Street in San Jose has an enormous festival every spring. The food is great, and there's lots of dance, but it's wildly over-subscribed, so you have to stand on line a lot to eat, and then you have to hunt for a place to sit. We had dinner at Evvia in Palo Alto recently. The food wasn't memorable . . .a little too polite for my palate (I like my taramasalata down and dirty), but I'd go again, if only to eat lamb and drink retsina at the same time.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Judith Hurley

            I like Evvia, but as you say, not soulful enough.


            1. re: Judith Hurley
              Zach Georgopoulos

              "I've heard reports of a little place on Chestnut (Mezes maybe?) and would like to hear from anyone who has tried it."

              I've been a few times. Mezes is the Greek word for appetizer, so it's sort of a Greek tapas joint for lack of a better description. Comes close to the old ouzeris in Athens, where you munch on a lot of little appetizers while pounding ouzo with ice water. This is a good thing. Overall, I'd say the mezethes they serve are darned good, and they even have my favorite scordalia (a garlic paste, sometimes served with bacalao -- definitely an acquired taste). The little fried smelt (marithes) are excellent, nice and crispy and edible whole. I also really enjoyed the "gigantes" -- large beans in a tomato sauce, and the sans-lettuce Greek salad (otherwise known as "horiatiko" -- village style). They have a real good Greek wine selection, which is very hard to come by (another pet peeve, aside from lettuce in Greek salads -- Greek wine makers are tearing out perfectly good native vines to plant chardonay and cabernet; if you order wine at Mezes try for an actual Greek varietal like Xynomavro or Aghioritiko). Their specials seem to be larger dishes that might qualify as a main course, but I prefer to just order lots of mezethes. A lot of the patrons are actual Greeks, which I guess ought to tell us something (basically, that there are not enough Greek restaurants in SF), and the owners seem to be really into the whole enterprise. The big problem is price -- since everything is structured to be eaten family style, and since everyone at the table usually wants to order one or two items, it can get pretty expensive for four or five people, especially with wine.

              1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                The Greek appetizers are my favorites...the place on Potrero Hill (now defunct, I believe) Asimokopoulus (?) had mediocre dinners but a great cold and hot appetizer plate. In fact, when we used to go to Parthenon in Chicago, we ate kind of Chinese style...many appetizers, lots of gyros (w/o bread, just sweet onions) and retsina. No dinner dishes per se. Why can't we eat like that in SF??? Oh yeah...the orange sausage that you hardly ever see any more.

                1. re: Jim H.
                  Zach Georgopoulos

                  Jim: Mezes actually has the orange sausage! Like I said, though, the place is pricey. I really wish someone would open an ouzeri or a taverna and be reasonable about the dollar value of such simple foods. The problem the last few years has been the cost of doing business in this town, with skyrocketing rents and a small labor pool. But all of that has changed now, so maybe we might see more reasonably priced places soon. If you're up in Sonoma some day, you should try Papa's Taverna -- I think you'll find that it reminds you of the places in Chicago.

                  1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                    The food's good at Papa's Taverna in Petaluma? Haven't tried it yet. I know they have greek dancing there but had thought of it as popular because boaters can sail up the Petaluma and dock there. Will have to give it a try.

                    Have you tried the restaurant at Topolos winery in Forestville? I've only had apps catered from there. Did like the saganaki.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Had lunch at Papa's a few years ago...very earthy and hard to judge a place by the food at lunch. I thought it was reasonable, but I ought to check it out for dinner. Melanie, the Forestville place is called the Russian River Vinyard, and it is delightful on a summer day. Great patio, and acceptable food. But I want something like the Parthenon...octopus, saganaki, real gyro cooked gyros, atmosphere, waiters off the last boat, I want it all.

                      1. re: Jim H.
                        Zach Georgopoulos

                        "octopus, saganaki, real gyro cooked gyros, atmosphere, waiters off the last boat, I want it all."

                        Jim, the last place like that in the Bay Area was Zorba's, down in San Jose. I think it closed early last year. My sister recently returned from a trip to L.A. to report that they found a "cool '70s style Greek place" that was apparently stuck in a time-warp, with evzon dressed waiters and guys dancing with tables in their teeth. I think this may well be the last of the breed on the West Coast...

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        Zach Georgopoulos

                        "The food's good at Papa's Taverna in Petaluma?"

                        Good, but not the greatest -- I would say Mezes beats it hands down, and both Papas and Mezes are more authentic than Kokkari or Evvia (and cheaper). But it probably comes closest to what Jim is looking for -- that sort of old style American Greek restaurant that has disappeared from SF.