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What is the best Greek restaurant?

North of the 8 and west of the 15 freeways.

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  1. Apollonia in the Costa Verde center has very good stuff. The tzatziki is the best and they have authentic greek salad, which is called horiatiki salad, just ask for extra feta cheese.

    1. San Diego doesn't have good Greek restaurants that I know of. Cafe Athena in PB is not bad.

      Cafe Athena
      1846 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

      1 Reply
      1. re: Josh

        Apollonia is the "sister restaurant" of Cafe Athena, so they pretty much are the same restaurant. We eat there about every 3 or 4 months on average. I would probably characterize it as "pretty good" (somewhere between Josh and 4wino :).

        When I lived in Rancho Bernardo 5 years back, we'd eat at the Pegasus Cafe from time to time. More "homey" than Apollonia, and in my opinion slightly better. But it probably has been 4 years since I've been there. It is slightly east of the 15, though, so it might not fit terlin's criteria. :)

      2. The Santorini Island Grill franchises are consistent and make really good, fresh food. http://www.santoriniislandgrill.net/
        3 of the locations are West of the 15.

        Santorini Island Grill
        3295 Business Park Dr, Vista, CA 92081

        15 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          We have eaten at the Scripps Ranch location and the food is rather underwhelming.

          1. re: Cathy

            Just went to the Scripps Ranch location, mostly because Waihina Kai shave ice is next door. It is better than Daphne's, although that is not saying much. Got the chicken and beef skewer dinner w/ a side of dolmas. Big plus that the chicken and beef were moist and had some flavor and a decent smokiness from the grill. They were better w/ a dousing of the vinegary hot sauce and tzatziki. Pita was soft and reasonably tasty.

            However, the greek salad and dolmas left a lot to be desired. Salad dressing was too oily and didn't have enough acid, leaving the salad greens limp and tasteless. Tomatoes looked like they were cut hours before and were limp by the time they hit the table. The feta cheese helped add some flavor but quite frankly, I can make a better Greek salad than this!

            Dolmas were also bland and flavorless, not helped by the dousing of oily salad dressing and overgenerous hit of ground black pepper. Was better after a hit of the hot sauce and tzatziki. However, I've had more flavorful dolmas from Trader Joe's.

            Service was prompt and friendly--the biggest plus.

            Overall, I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here. However, if I was in the area and didn't want to eat at Subway or the number of fast food chains in the immediate vicinity, I would consider going back.

            1. re: daantaat

              Daantaant, if you want to taste a real Greek salad, go to Apollonia in Costa Verde Center. And don't ask for the Greek salad, ask for the Horiatiki salad. There won't be any lettuce in there. I would also ask for extra feta cheese. In Greece they give you a huge block of feta cheese on top of the salad, while at Apollonia it's just two small cubes. But they will accomodate your request.

                1. re: daantaat

                  FYI to add to 4wino's comment, here's a pic I took of a Horiatiki Salata in Athens just last August... - http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                  I'd love to find some of the simple, non-fussy but absolutely delicious charcoal-grilled seafood that they have over there, such as this grilled calamari (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...) or this beautiful grilled octopus (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... )...

                  nyone know if any of our Greek places comes even remotely close to serving something like this?

                  1. re: cgfan

                    Great pictures cgfan. Now that is what I call a nice block of cheese. And the calamari...

                    1. re: cgfan

                      It will be hard to find something as good as freshly grilled calamari directly next to the Mediterrean Sea (I miss doing the same at the Croatian coast) but the octopus appetizer at Starlite is surprisingly good

                      1. re: honkman

                        Is this kind of cuisine so inherently unobtainable? Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but all it would take is for someone to open up a shop sourcing the best seafood from around the world much like a Sushi bar, and preparing it in a simple, Mediterranean way.

                        After all if we could have quality oyster bars, Sushi bars and Mariscos restaurants, all operations that seek out the freshest of seafood for a customer base that is willing to pay for the quality, why not a quality Mediterranean Seafood Grill?

                        Come to think of it along the same vein, San Diego could still use a true Robata-ya...

                        1. re: cgfan

                          I want that salad NOW! San Diego could also use a restaurant with New Mexican cusine.

                      2. re: cgfan

                        now THAT is some smashing Horiatiki Salata and calamari! I can almost taste it through the photos!

                        1. re: cgfan

                          That is one hell of a Horiatiki Salata salad in Athens..
                          My mouth is watering wishing I was there..

                          1. re: cgfan

                            Wow remind me to get a lot of recommendations from you if I ever visit Greece...

                            Just a big "WOW" on those photos....

                            1. re: karaethon

                              Thanks karaethon... The irony is that Stateside we tend to over-complicate things and forget sometimes just how simple good food can be... What, just fresh octopus or squid over a charcoal fire, olive oil, and maybe some salt and a wedge of lemon...

                              It was such a treat eating there that I ordered "much like a food reviewer" with every meal, focusing on variety rather than worry about not finishing. I recall some kids at the next table staring at the plates and asking me: "Are you going to eat all that?"...

                          2. re: daantaat

                            These are great pictures - the best part was that a salad that looked (and tasted) exactly like this could be had at just about any taverna in Athens. I spent 5 days there last year, and had a salad and a Mythos for lunch just about everyday! Apollonia is an adequate approximation at best, and will quiet a craving - but I wouldn't compare it to the salad in the picture! It is to an Athenian taverna, what Bronx Pizza is to diFara's or Grimaldis.

                            1. re: ipsit

                              Ipsit, it's not rocket science to make a good Greek salad. Fresh ingredients and a freshly made salad dressing and voila. The only thing missing at Apollonia is the big block of feta cheese.

                    2. Olympic Cafe at Texas & University in Hillcrest/N. Park is a very good family run operation. Short on ambience but food is very well prepared, ample portions and very reasonable. You can't miss with anything you order.

                        1. I haven't been to Cafe Athena but I hear that it is just OK. The issue with trying to find well prepared Greek food in a restaurant is one of cost and skill....what else is new? The run of the mill Greek restaurants here in San Diego use novice cooks who are used to preparing "American" food. Therefore, the fine points of Greek "taste" are unknown to them. Also, they rarely use prime olive oil, fresh garlic and herbs. Mary Pappas' Athens Market is good but expensive. I stay away from Greek mystery meat better known as Gyros! I will give Apollonia a try.

                          Cafe Athena
                          1846 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                          Athens Market Cafe
                          11640 Carmel Mountain Rd Ste 124, San Diego, CA 92128

                          1. I was very unimpressed with Apollonia Bistro when we went there. I've had much better Greek food at Country Kabob Restaurant on Adams (and there is one on Rosecrans).

                            I agree that Olympic is good, great for breakfast, even if it is short on atmosphere.

                            Greek Town Buffet in El Cajon isn't the best, but is the best value and the food is pretty darn good.

                            Georgia's is okay and so is Alexi in Hillcrest (just south of the 8).

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: scottca075

                              Scott is correct. Appolonia is not as good as it's being sold on here. The service is appallingly bad at times, and the food, while it used to be run of the mill, has suffered to the point that it's barely better than the usual whole in the wall that doesn't impress.

                              Pegasus used to be very good in RB, but haven't been in years (5+). I hear there is a place in Hillcrest (ish) mama something or other?? maybe someone who has been can help me out on this...but I have yet to try so can't authenticate the stories I've been told.

                              If you find a good Greek place please let me know, been searching for years...

                              Similar food but not quite can be found at The Kebab shop. Get the Ishkender plate, with half tomato sauce: Incredible. Not Greek, but close.

                              1. re: thegunsmith

                                Thanks! I hate to go to a restaurant and find that I could cook the same thing at home for a fraction of the price. Oh, well! I have also been looking for years for a good Greek restaurant. No far, not much to report.

                                Mama's Bakery is off of El Cajon Blvd on Alabama. A new owner took over, so I can't personally attest to the quality of the food. But my friends are Lebanese and they said it was still very good. I had the chicken Schwarma and it was fresh, and "just right" . They have a outdoor oven and they make all their own pita. Where is The Kebab Shop? There used to be a restaurant called Tony's on El Cajon Blvd just east of College. Now that was great food. I have watched them roll the dolma..nothing was from a can! Alas, they vanished when the entire strip-mall was torn down. Tony! Where are you?


                                1. re: diakofto1922

                                  The Kebab Shop is in the Gaslamp, or perhaps far enough east to be called East VIllage. It is on 8th, maybe 9th, Best donner kebab in SD.

                                  Mama's is still quite good for Lebanese.

                                  As to New Mexican food there is the New Mexico Cafe La Dona in Barrio Logan, it isn't Pink Adobe NM food.

                                  1. re: diakofto1922

                                    There is a "The kebab shop" in Mira Mesa as well (Mira Mesa blvd same lot as in-n-out near the 15 fwy) to accompany the one near (9th and Island? I think?). It's worth the drive if you are looking for Doner kebabs. It's so close to greek, and so good, that you won't be disappointed. Be sure to get some of the chili sauce and the garlic sauce they don't advertise. It makes it even better. just ask the guys at the counter for a recommendation if the ishkender or doner doesn't look good to you.

                              2. We go to Cafe Athena regularly and it is pretty good.
                                Just went last night and had the lamb kebobs.
                                They were a little bit tough but not bad.
                                Georgia's near the sports arena is also very good and they had better lamb kebobs.
                                I used to go to their location near Kensington many years ago.
                                I also like Taste of Lebanon on Miramar Rd. Close to work so go there for lunch and usually get the vegetarian combo.