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SF Greek fest

Joy of joys -- the San Francisco Greek food festival at Annunciation Cathedral (245 Valencia St.) is only two weeks away! Sept. 28, 29, 30.

Last year was our inaugural visit, and we were pleasantly surprised. The moussaka was as dense as cheesecake. The grilled chicken: melting off the bone. The Greek grandmas/cooks, ample.

They also hosted a kind of wine bar in the center of the diningroom featuring Greek labels that seemed uncommon (haven't spotted them at Parea Wine Bar or Arlequin Wine Merchant, our fave local store). For $4 a cup (plastic), I couldn't complain. Not after a couple additional shots of ouzo, anyway.

I was curious if any of you have one dish that's sort of a must do when you go there? Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. Did you (or anyone) try any lamb chops? There was a post w/ pics to another Greek festival and the lamb chops looked great.

    1. I love this festival. The food is always excellent. I don't think I've had anything I didn't like; although I'm personally partial to the pastitsio and the souvlaki. My only "must have" items are dessert. We always go with a group, and then get pretty much one of each dessert and share.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kresge86

        I have had the lamb which they grill over coals outside. Quite nice as I recall. The live music is great too and very authentic.

        1. re: kresge86

          I will have to check out the slouvaki. It was tough only going in a two person group last year because then we couldn't try very many items (a person can only eat so many 2,000 calorie dishes in one day). I do remember the stifado was to die for.

          There are only two things I would maybe avoid: the garlic bread, which I remember was sort of sodden with butter/margarine/oil or something, and the green beans (?) which suffered the same greasy fate as the bread. Otherwise, many winners.

        2. Moussaka as dense as cheesecake ... sounds like not enough eggplant.

          We thought the food went downhill, particularly in that they replaced lamb with beef or pork in some dishes, so we stopped going after the 2004 festival.

          Maybe time to give them another chance.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Any link to this event? Is there an admission fee?

              1. re: hhc

                Do they have good Gyros? I would love to taste several different types of gyros. YUM

              2. re: rdabke

                If you print out the admissions coupon online, there is no admissions fee. I recently wrote about the Belmont Greek Festival (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437472) and the food was great there... now that I'm hooked on Greek food, I'm pretty sure I'll check out this one. The delicious Youvetzi (lamb) was just so good!

                1. re: liujenny

                  I just checked out the SF Greek Festival today, even though it was extremely windy and cold, the live music there made it pretty festive. We had the spanakopita, moussaka, 1/2 baked chicken and the pilafi. I think the moussaka ($6) was my favorite, very flavorful and filled with yummy eggplants and ground meat. The chicken ($7), however, was disappointingly dry and was a bit lacking in flavor. When we got there around 6:30pm, there was a pretty long line for the food, so be prepared to wait!

                  Maybe my expectations are too high since they're based on the Belmont Greek Festival, the food here is good, just not as spectacular as the Belmont festival. I would definitely recommend the moussaka, we went back for a second piece to go at the take-out counter where no one was waiting at all, so maybe taking the food home is a better idea?

                   
                   
                   
                  1. re: liujenny

                    Went for a brief visit today... have some desserts that we brought home but haven't tried.
                    But the spanakopita was very good, as were the dolmas. The dolmas don't have that sour taste I'm used to (which I like too). These lacked that tang and I liked it.

            1. God...I LOVE greek food. It is so hard to find here. Ive been to Mezez a few times and it is pretty good. Some plates are very good like the tomato/ouzo shrimp. Im totally going to the greek festival.

              1 Reply
              1. re: luckygrlllll

                I love Greek food too, and it is hard to find. There is that Greek place on Polk that serves the monster portions, but it is a tad too oily for me, and more Greek American than anything else. The interior is also oddly lit. Tasty though.

                At the SF Greek Fest, I recommend any sort of grilled lamb thing, of course. For variety, you might try the grilled Haloumi. It's kind of like bbq'd cheese cubes, which sounds bad but is actually delicious -- firm and mildly salty. They serve something similar at Samovar Tea sometimes, but it's way too healthified to taste as good as the Greek Fest ladies make it. Bon Appetit, and opa.

              2. We went on Saturday with a small group. I have to say, it is not quite as good as I remember! Which is not to say it was all bad. I mostly come to hear the music, eat my bodyweight in lamb and drink harder to find wines. To that end, I think I succeeded, though this year I subbed in pastries for lamb. :)

                Faves: Rice pudding (wonderful orange zest flavor, nice break from good ol' vanilla); Greek salad, $4 (you do buy the olives and feta separate); pastries (shredded wheat/kataifa, two baklava, the gingery cookies with powdered sugar on top, and something-karouna). I also had yemestes (bell peppers stuffed with rice and beef, oddly bitter) and moussaka (bechamel: a little gelatinous). Souvlaki was moist, but I really wish I'd had the three grilled lambchops for $14.

                The winebar was great. We tried the Mega Oenes from Skouras, a producer in Nemea ($27? bucks a bottle). Ended up with a bottle of biodynamic wine from Maraitis, a 2002 Paros. That was really nice with the food, and a steal at $22. A little crazy upon first swig, but with a long, smooth finish.

                Overall, a great night. Just remember to bring a sweater and coat if you go next year!

                3 Replies
                1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                  For unusual Greek wines, check out Parea down the street.

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                  Parea' Wine Bar and Cafe
                  795 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I'm ashamed to admit I didn't realize Parea' was Greek. I'll have to try it.

                  2. re: iwantmytwodollars

                    Was it me or did you not think it was way overpriced? I understand that it was a fundraiser but OMG $7 for a skewer of souvlaki and $14 for 3 small grilled lamb chops with nothing on the side? I brought a group of friends and each couple spent like $40+ for an mix of items.