This weekend’s Greek Festival is the region’s largest pop-up Greek restaurant, but for those craving Greek after the festival closes Sunday, here’s where to find gyros, souvlaki, dolmades, spanakopita and more.
TABLE SERVICE RESTAURANTS
Ammar’s Mediterranean Grill
409 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-272-1047, palacemediterranean.com (Note: Abbreviated menu served on Dome event nights).
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In 2012, Ammar and Sorada Mannaa opened their homey Mediterranean restaurant in the Tacoma Dome neighborhood as a second location beyond their fast-food Greek restaurant Mediterranean Palace.
Full-service Ammar’s Mediterranean Grill specializes in Greek and Mediterranean classics, as well as a few American dishes (and a surprise offering of curry). Ammar’s offers table service and a full beer, wine and spirit menu. This is my favorite restaurant for consistent quality.
Order the: Beef ($9.99 lunch/$11.99 dinner) or lamb gyro sandwich ($11.99/$13.99), both with ground meat, sliced and seared over flame, tucked into warm pita with tomato, onion and tangy yogurt tzatziki.
The falafel ($9.99/$11.99) sandwich held pungent, garlicky discs of ground garbanzo beans, with a nutty zigzag of tahini sauce. Greek or garlicky Caesar (spicy or not) salads accompanied sandwiches and mains, alongside flame-grilled squash and spiced rice pilaf. Dolmades, loosely-textured lemon-and-mint rice stuffing wound up tight in grape leaves, came with tzatziki ($7.25).
Giorgio’s Greek Cafe
328 S. Meridian, Puyallup; 253-200-2333, giorgiosgreekcafe.com.
Follow the circular entry as it curves to a triangular dining room with table service and friendly help. Find a beer, wine and cocktail menu, plus a broad five-page menu of Greek, Mediterranean, pizza and pasta. It originally opened in 2010 as an offshoot of Tacoma’s It’s Greek to Me, but in 2014, the restaurant was taken over by Giorgio “George” Dimakis, son of co-founder Johnny Dimakis, who still works in the kitchen six days a week. Dimakis co-founded It’s Greek To Me in the early 1990s with Jim Wick.
Order the: Souvlaki dinner with lamb ($17.95), with skewers of tangy-marinated flame-grilled lamb (a bit too chewy), served with crisp veggies, rice pilaf, tzatziki and pita wedges and a choice of sides. Squeaky green beans should be skipped in favor of cubed potatoes simmered in tomato sauce. Spanakopita dinner ($13.95) with flaky turnovers filled with lemon-and-feta flavored spinach and a side. Densely stuffed grape leaves with herbed ground sirloin and rice (dolmades, $8.95) came with a zippy lemon sauce.
10924 Bridgeport Way SW Lakewood; 253-581-2222.
This Lakewood cafe has switched locations once and ownership a few times in the last decade. The Greek Cafe formerly was a fast-casual restaurant with counter service, but now offers table service and a beer and wine menu.
Order the: Shaved beef gyro ($8) tucked into a warm pita with a heavy drizzle of tzatziki and fresh veggies. Less successful were the chewy lamb souvlaki ($10) skewers over pita bread. Dolmades came as a meal ($12), the grape leaves stuffed with more meat than rice.
7510 40th St. W., University Place; 253-267-1616, facebook.com/GyroZone.
Deals abound at this shawarma and gyro sandwich destination that opened in University Place in 2013. Husband-wife owners Ali Abumathneh and Amal Burini offer a menu of Middle Eastern and Greek dishes in a recently made over fast-casual space.
Order the: Lamb shawarma sandwich ($7.99) with spiced meat shaved into a warm pita, with iceberg lettuce, tomato and onion, dressed with a nutty tahini sauce. A beef and lamb gyro ($6.99) was flavored forcefully with garlic and dressed with tzatziki. Don’t miss the veggie sandwiches — nutty cauliflower ($5.99) in a warm pita with crisp veggies, or baba ganouj ($5.99), with a heavy smear of smoky eggplant spread and feta cheese.
430 E. 25th St., Tacoma; 253-272-0845, palacemediterranean.com.
Ammar and Sorada Mannaa took over this restaurant from Ammar’s brother, who opened Mediterranean Palace in Freighthouse Square in 1989. Find the same flavors of Ammar’s Mediterranean Grill in the scaled-down fast food stand just off the food court at Freighthouse.
Order the: Sandwiches, which are the same composition as Ammar’s, but served with a bag of chips instead of a plated meal. Try the beef gyro ($6.99), lamb gyro ($7.99) or falafel ($6.99). Don’t miss the rice-filled dolmades ($4.49).
It’s Greek To Me
1702 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-1375, itsgreektomerestaurant.com.
Since the early 1990s, Jim Wick has been feeding hungry University of Puget Sound students and Sixth Avenue diners at his fast-casual Greek eatery with a menu of sandwiches, pizza and pasta. Wick co-founded the restaurant across the street in a tiny location (it’s now a Memo’s), but moved to the current location in 2013.
Order the: Gyro sandwich ($6.49), the biggest and meatiest of any tried for this tour. The formula remains unchanged over the last 20-something years: shaved, spiced ground beef and lamb, tucked into a big, warm pita with lots of fresh iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes and onions and a generous pour of tangy tzatziki. You’re doing it wrong unless you order Greek fries ($2.49/$3.49).
Ikonos Real Greek Souvlaki
4920 Point Fosdick Drive NW, Gig Harbor; 253-858-7070.
Earlier this year, Ammar and Sorada Mannaa sold Ikonos to Gencay Tunc, who previously operated Captain G. Ottoman’s Kitchen in Burien. The restaurant continues to be a fast-casual destination with an attractive dining room. The menu appears the same, but the recipes belong to Tunc. Expect more Turkish specialties on the menu.
Order the: Keep it simple with a mildly spiced falafel sandwich ($6.49) dressed with crisp veggies, or shaved lamb and beef gyro ($6.95) with a mild tzatziki.
Daniah’s International Market
6603 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-566-0393.
This market is one of few grocery stores in the region specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients. Order from the small menu at the cash register.
Order the: Keep it simple with a gyro sandwich ($4.99), a bargain handheld affair that’s pretty good, despite the pita turning chewy from being microwaved.