Carlos Hernandez from CarlosEats.com to enjoy an evening of fast casual Greek-American cuisine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own. Photos are by me unless otherwise stated.
Whoever said "don't play with your food" obviously never had a macro lens for their iphone. I was shooting with no tripod, so closeups are not crisp ... but these veggies are! Can you guess what you are looking at?
Here's a hint - they are ingredients in these tasty treats from the Little Greek Restaurant. These were some delicious dishes - one ginormous gyro
and a gargantuan Greek salad from their South Tampa location (on 1155 S. Dale Mabry Blvd.).
Last week the Tampa Bay Bloggers were invited to stop by and eat our way through the menu. Just kidding - although that is what it felt like as we waddled away at the end of the evening.
We were greeted with plates of grilled and fried pita and hummus. The contrasting textures of the pita successfully complimented the creamy hummus. Whether you like soft or crispy, they've got you covered.
We also tasted the falafel which had a nice light texture, crisp on the outside and fluffy inside. I love these falafel and can not tell you how many times I have been served dense nasty hockey pucks at other restaurants. The chick pea balls we were served was a welcome change ... especially when topped with their spicy tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt sauce). While tzatziki is a greek staple and already available, the spicy sauce is a test item that I hope they add to the menu soon.
|photo by Frank DiLorenzo (Eater of Tampa Bay) on Urbanspoon|
There was a selection of sangria, soda or beer with our munchies. The Mythos beer was refreshing on a hot evening and perfect with the briny and spicy accents, olives, peperoncini etc. The beer and wine are a nice touch for a fast casual restaurant.
|chicken souvlaki platter with rice and salad|
What is fast casual dining? Basically you get good quality food at a fair price, without full table service. However some f.c. places only serve soft beverages, so the beer was a pleasant surprise - especially while sampling the spicy tzarziki!
|founder Sigrid Bratic - image provided by Little Greek Restaurant|
What is the story behind the Little Greek Franchise? In 2004 Estonia native, Sigrid Bratic purchased a struggling Greek restaurant in Palm Harbor, Florida. She freshened up the menu while listening to her customers needs - adding healthier items, tweaking traditional Greek dishes to suit a broader American audience. Over seven years she completely turned the place around and caught the attention of Nick Vojnovck, former president of the Beef-o-Brady's restaurant chain. Since then several Little Greek restaurants have opened throughout the Tampa Bay area, plus a few in Texas. They also now bottle some of their sauces and salad dressings for customers to enjoy at home.
The rice pudding was yummy - even my husband who usually hates rice pudding said it was delish. The avglomeno (a lemony chicken soup) isn't shown since I devoured it before shooting - oops. The bottom right image is a tomato-feta soup, which was quite good. I think it would be fabulous served gazpacho-cold with a splash of hot sauce. Can you tell I like things spicy? We also received parting gifts including spicy garlic sauce, which I've already cooked with twice & bottled Greek salad dressing.
We also had a lesson in making dolmades. Love those little green cigars!
No, they are not cigars - I'm just messing with you. Although they did disappear almost as fast as smoke. These dolmades are "tender grape leaves stuffed with beef, rice tomatoes and herbs" and are made in-house, something you wont always find when eating out.
There was so much food food coming out of the kitchen that it was not possible to taste it all - although we certainly tried. Everything I sampled from crispy veggies, to fluffy breads and tender meats was fresh and well made. We ate chicken souvlaki (yum), grilled chicken salad, a signature salad topped with potato and beet (I enjoyed the chicken but was too full to sample the salads), Greek sausage (left me ambivalent but received rave reviews from everyone else, especially the gents), gyros, drool-worthy fresh cut fries, and..and.. and...
|spinach pie photo from Little Greek|
There was too much to try so I missed tasting one of my Mediterranean favorites, spanakopita (spinach pie). I was busy stealing a photo of Denise from RunDMT enjoying the moussaka. The spanakopita must have been amazing as it vanished before I could hurl myself across the crowded room. I will be back again soon to test it out.
A fun crowd and too many tasty treats made this a great time!
The hardest part was decided when to shoot
& when to eat!
The Little Greek Restaurant has a friendly staff, clear menus and large photos of the food (with names & pronunciation) to make ordering easy...
and I'm about to make it even easier:
If you leave a comment on this post before noon on Friday 6/13/13 (EST) you will be entered in a random drawing for 1 FREE chicken or gyro pita with fresh cut fries and a soft drink. As I write this, that is less than 24 hours away so hop to it! Be sure to leave an email address where I can reach you, if it is not easy to find in your profile.
Obviously this drawing is only open to folks who can easily visit one of the Little Greek locations. Want to find out if there is one near you? Click here and then press the "locations" tab.
So, How Hungry Are You? And how fast can you type?
If you are near one of these restaurants and can not wait for the drawing - or just have a hankering for the food - Little Greek is offering this same meal for $6.99 through 6/15/2013. This special price is to celebrate their 9th anniversary. And if it is after 6/15, you can still get all that for under $10 - a great price for a huge tasty lunch.