Mykonos Cafe And Taverna – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mykonos Cafe for Authentic Greek Cuisine in Albuquerque

Jose Villegas, my friend and colleague at Hanscom Air Force Base, earned the most ignominious nickname. Everyone called him “Jose Viernes” which fans of the 1960s television series Dragnet might recognize is the Spanish translation for “Joe Friday.” We didn’t call him Jose Viernes because he was a “just the facts” kind of guy. He earned that sobriquet because he lived for Fridays. Jose kept a perpetual calendar in his head, constantly reminding us that there are “only XXX days until Friday.” Quite naturally, his favorite expression was “TGIF” which he could be overheard exclaiming ad-infinitum when his favorite day of the week finally arrived. Conversely, for him (as it is for many Americans), Monday was the most dreaded way to spend one-seventh of his life, an accursed day that mercilessly ended his weekend.

Aside from the temporary reprieve Friday provides from the grind of an arduous workweek, Jose’s anticipation about Fridays had everything to do with fun, friends, food and females. Mostly food…or so we thought. Jose was one of the first gourmets I ever met, a man with an educated palate and nuanced tastes (though for some reason, he disliked the foods of his native Puerto Rico). On Fridays, his favorite Greek restaurant served a combination platter brimming with several of his favorite dishes. Jose raved about such delicacies as dolmas, spanakopita, galaktoboureko and other dishes he could spell and pronounce flawlessly and which he considered ambrosiatic. Jose rebuffed all offers of company when Greek was Friday’s featured fare, likely because he was as interested in a comely weekend waitress as he was the food.

Bread and Dipping Sauce

In the Hanscom area, some twenty miles northwest of Boston, several of the local Italian and pizza restaurants were owned and operated by Greek proprietors.  Some of them would occasionally offer such weirdness as “stuffed grape leaves,” a dish of which my callow mind could not then fathom.  Save for a “Mediterranean Pizza” (kalamata olives, feta cheese, olive oil) I left Massachusetts without ever experiencing Greek food.  After my inauguration into the culinary delights (at Gyros Mediterranean in Albuquerque) of one of the world’s oldest civilizations, I cursed Jose Viernes for not having introduced me to such deliciousness.  What kind of friend was he to have kept such dishes as gyros, spanakopita, tarama and stuffed grape leaves (those paragons of weirdness) from me!

Jose Viernes still comes to mind whenever we visit a Greek restaurant.  If the fates have been kind to him, he’s probably found a job that allows him to work four ten-hour days a week so he can have his precious Fridays off.  Maybe he married that Greek waitress none of us ever met and opened his own Greek restaurant.  Perhaps someday through the magic of the internet, I hope we can reconnect and reminisce.   Better still, I hope we can break pita together and discuss the nuances of Greek cuisine.  With any luck, that reunion will take place at Mykonos Cafe on Juan Tabo.

Greek Appetizer Plate: Spanakopita, Feta cheese & Kalamata olives, Hummus, Dolmas & Toasted Pita

Though–as very well chronicled in the May, 2017 edition of Albuquerque The MagazineGreek restaurateurs have plied their talents across the Duke City for generations, they often did so in restaurants showcasing New Mexican and American  culinary fare in such venerable institutions as Western View Diner & Steakhouse, Mannie’s Family Restaurant, Lindy’s, Monte Carlo Steakhouse, Town House Dining Room, Milton’s and many others.  Menus at these restaurants included a smattering of Greek dishes, but it wasn’t until much later that true Greek restaurants began dotting the culinary landscape.

Restaurants such as the Olympia Cafe (1972),  Gyros Mediterranean (1978), Yanni’s Mediterranean (1995) are the elder statesmen among Albuquerque’s Greek restaurants with Mykonos Cafe (1997) the newcomer in the group.  Situated in the Mountain Run Shopping Center, Mykonos was founded by veteran restaurateur Maria Constantine.  In 2014, Mykonos changed hands when Nick Kapnison, Jimmy Daskalos and wife Nadine Martinez-Daskalos purchased the restaurant.  Kapnison and Daskalos are among the Duke City’s most accomplished restaurant impresarios, boasting of such local favorites as Nick & Jimmy’s and El Patron.  The talented triumvirate gave Mykonos a complete make-over, revamping virtually everything in the restaurant.

Avgolemono

More than ever, the restaurant evokes images of Mykonos, the Greek island for which the restaurant is named.  Sea-blue paint, in particular, will transport you to the crystal clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean.  The cynosure of the restaurant is a “bubble wall,” an illuminated glass fixture which holds moving water and changes color depending on its setting.  Capacious and attractive as the dining area is, for parents of furry, four-legged children, the dog-friendly patio is a welcome milieu.  Our delightful dachshund Dude (he abides) enjoys the attention he receives from the amiable wait staff.

The menu is very well organized into several categories: dips and spreads, Mezethakia (appetizers), soupa, salata, entrees, vegetarian, steaks, chops and lamb, seafood, sandwiches, pastas, sides and homemade desserts.  Though it’s not the menu’s goal  to make it difficult to decide what to order, it may very well have that effect on you…especially if your tastes are diverse.  Jose Viernes would enjoy perusing the many options.  While you ponder what to order, a single bread roll with a dipping sauce is ferried over to your table.  The base for the dipping sauce is olive oil to which chile flakes, cheese and seasonings are added.  It’s among the best you’ll find anywhere.

14-Ounce Bone-In Pork Chop

7 May 2017:  If you need additional time to study the menu, order the Greek Appetizer Plate (spanakopita, feta cheese & kalamata olives, hummus, dolmas and toasted pita).  It’ll keep you noshing contentedly as you decide what will follow and it’ll give you a nice introduction to the restaurant’s culinary delights.  Each offering on the plate is a high quality exemplar of the Greek Mezethakia (appetizer) tradition.  The spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese baked in filo pastry) is a light and flaky wedge of subtle flavor combinations while the feta and kalamata olives come at you full-bore with more straight-forward and assertive flavors.  The dolmas are vegetarian though a beef version (stuffed grape leaves with beef and rice served hot with avgolemono sauce) is available as an appetizer option.

7 May 2017: Entrees are accompanied by your choice of soup or salad.  Jose Viernes would call the Avgolemono a “no-brainer.”   Avgolemono is a traditional Greek soup made with chicken broth, rice (or orzo) eggs, and lemon juice.  Wholly unlike the sweet and sour soup you might find at a Chinese restaurant, it’s only mildly tart and blends tart and savory tastes in seemingly equal proportions.  It has a rich citrus (but far from lip-pursing) flavor and an almost creamy texture from the eggs.  The base of Mykonos’ avgolemono soup is a high-quality chicken stock that keeps all other ingredients nicely balanced.

Kotopoulo (Slow-roasted Chicken with Mediterranean herbs and Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

7 May 2017: The fourteen-ounce bone-in pork chop is quite simply the best, most tender and delicious pork chop we’ve had in Albuquerque–better even than the broasted pork chop masterpiece at Vick’s Vittles.  When our server asked how I wanted the chop prepared, I told her the chef could indulge himself.  It arrived at our table at about a medium degree of doneness with plenty of moistness and just a hint of pink.  Greek seasonings penetrated deeply into as tender a cut of pork as we’ve ever had, imbuing the chop with luscious flavors.  It was a paragon of porcine perfection.  The pork chop is served with tender asparagus spears and mashed potatoes (though you can opt for au gratin potatoes instead). 

7 May 2017: My Kim’s choice, as it often is when we visit Nick & Jimmy’s, was the Kotopoulo (slow roasted chicken with Mediterranean herbs and extra virgin olive oil).  As with many entrees at Mykonos, the chicken is sizeable enough for two people to share.  It is comprised of a breast, leg, thigh and wing, all slow-roasted and flavored with lemon and flecked with garlic and oregano.  The skin is crispy while the entirety of the chicken is moist and delicious.  Roasted Greek potatoes are an excellent pairing for the chicken. 

Mykonos Combination Platter

29 April 2018:  Culinary adventurers who crave dining diversity need go no further than the Mykonos Combination Platter to savor some of best known and most beloved of all Greek delicacies including moussaka, pastitsio, beef dolmathes and spanakopita.   Though traditionally prepared with lamb, Mykonos’ version of moussaka is a vegetarian variation replete with eggplant and seasonal vegetables topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.  The béchamel is thick and frothy, wholly unlike its Italian counterpart.  In all honesty, this dish appeals to me as much because of an episode of Seinfeld as anything else.  When Pakistani immigrant Babu Bhatt opened a restaurant he named the Dream Cafe, he offered such un-Pakistani favorites as tacos, moussaka and franks and beans.  Jerry, of course, had the turkey.  It’s not a bad dish, but my preference would have been for the version made with lamb. 

Much better is the pastitsio (baked macaroni, tomato sauce, ground beef and a blend of cheeses topped with béchamel), a dish often called Greek lasagna.  “Pastitsio” is a term describing a hodgepodge or scramble, and indeed this dish combines a number of different ingredients together in a single dish.    On the Mykonos version, the ground beef is seasoned with nutmeg.  As with the moussaka, it would have been even better with lamb.  The beef dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with beef and rice, topped with lemon dill sauce) are made on the premises and are among the very best in the city.  The lemon dill sauce is even more tart than the Avgolemono.  One of the best starters on the menu, the spanokopita (spinach & feta cheese baked in filo pastry) is a delight to eat both from a textural and flavor perspective.  The light, delicate filo gives way to a blend of spinach and feta that bring out the best in one another.

Going strong into its second decade, Mykonos Cafe and Taverna is the type of restaurant my friend Jose Viernes would enjoy every day of the week.  So will you.

Mykonos Cafe and Taverna
5900 Eubank, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 291-1116
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 29 April 2018
1st VISIT: 7 May 2017
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 22
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Kotopoulo, 14-Ounce Bone-In Pork Chop, Greek Appetizer Plate, Avgolemono, Mykonos Combination Platter, Tiri Ke Elies

Mykonos Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bayti Mediterranean Delicacies – Albuquerque, New Mexico

My Friend Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver Is Anxious to Try Bayti Mediterranean Delicacies on Menaul

“Ashlan Wa Sahlan” (Welcome)
Sahteyn” (Twice Your Health, Bon Apetit)
t’faddalou” (Welcome to the Table, Dinner is Served)

How can you not love a culture in which there are numerous beautiful expressions associated with hospitality and with families welcoming guests to join them for a great meal?  When it comes to warmth and hospitality, few cultures embody it so richly and genuinely as the Lebanese.  Similarly, when it comes to utterly delicious food prepared with love and served in generous portions, the Lebanese culture may be unequaled.    One of the most treasured blessings of having grown up in the small mountain community of Peñasco was sharing many meals with first-, second- and third-generation expatriates from the beautiful country of Lebanon. 

The wonderful SBS Website, an exemplar of culturally-relevant Australian media content explains “Lebanese hosts will never believe you don’t have just a bit more room for something utterly delicious that’s been prepared with love. In a Lebanese household, food is life and sharing it is one of the great joys of being alive. Even for simple dinners at home, there are a variety of dishes on the table, the meal starting with small portions known as mezza, which centre around dips and salads. They may be as simple as simple as pickled or raw vegetables, and bread or an entire meal consisting also of meat kebabs, grilled, marinated seafood, salads and desserts.” Regardless of your own culinary culture, you’ve got to love that.

Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver Studies Bayti’s Menu

Thanks to our Lebanese neighbor Jeanette Owen, I experienced and enjoyed such Lebanese delicacies as fattoush, tabbouleh and kibbeh as a young sprout — long before your once naive and callow blogger experienced Asian cuisine of any type.  To that point, the only non-New Mexican or Mexican dishes to have crossed my lips before the Air Force sent me to the Boston area were lasagna, spaghetti and pizza. Despite my own Spanish heritage, a tapa was solely a lid on the top of a jar. The foods of the exotic Indian subcontinent may as well have been extraterrestrial cuisine. From among the fifty best dishes in the world, I can tick off having experienced only ten (and who hasn’t had popcorn, potato chips, chocolate and donuts) before my nineteenth birthday. Heck, I didn’t partake of a McDonald’s burger until well into my teens. But I knew Lebanese cuisine.

If you’re wondering why Lebanese decided to settle rural, agrarian communities in the Sangre De Cristos, Pete Sahd, patriarch of one of the most wonderful families I have been blessed to know, often spoke of how much the mountain villages of Northern New Mexico resembled the cedar-rich mother country.  The progenitors of many of New Mexico’s Lebanese immigrants left Lebanon during the repressive Ottoman Empire, the main exodus occurring in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Escaping persecution and poverty, some arrived with nothing but aspirations, dreams and hopes. The frontier territory of New Mexico was replete with opportunity (and the prospect of freedom) for them. 

Raquel Brings a Whole Roasted Chicken to our Table

Like their Phoenician forefathers had done, many of them began as door-to-door peddlers, many eventually launching trading posts or general stores in the small villages in which they settled. The “Arabes” as they are sometimes still called by Hispanics were (and still are) hard workers, shrewd businessmen, community-minded and family-oriented. They fit right in with the tight-knit Hispanic communities which shared similar values–so much so that Los Arabes of New Mexico, a wonderful book written by Monika Ghattas is subtitled Compadres From a Distant Land.

In the vernacular and tradition of Hispanic Northern New Mexico, few–if any–titles were held in such esteem and reverence by elder generations as “compadre” (male) and “comadre” (female). In his Dictionary of New Mexico & Southern Colorado Spanish, Ruben Cobos defines a compadre as a “ritual co-parent; a term by which godparents address the mother and father of their godchild and by which the child’s parents address the godmother and godfather.” That’s the esteem to which many of the Arabes were…and still are held today.  My mom’s best friend Patty Sahd was a third grandmother to the Garduño children.  We love and miss her very much.

Baba Ghannouj

When my friend Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver and I stepped into Bayti Mediterranean, I wondered if we would experience the type of hospitality and warmth shown by Lebanese compadres and comadres in Peñasco.  We were greeted warmly by Raquel who immediately discerned our confusion.  Bayti is not a restaurant per se.  It’s akin to a deli in which food items are apportioned into containers, displayed under glass in a deli case and sold by the pound.  Though take-out accounts for much of its business, Bayti also has a handful of tables in which diners can enjoy their meal on the premises.  Raquel, our hostess, was a gracious,  knowledgeable and perpetually smiling presence who explained all the dishes as if she’d been raised on them (though she had never had any of them, having grown up in Mexico).  As in Peñasco, it was delightful to speak Spanish while enjoying Lebanese food.

About halfway through our meal, managing owner Feryal Zantout, a statuesque beauty walked in and introduced herself. She explained the concept behind Bayti is to serve fresh and healthy Mediterranean cuisine from Lebanon and that  Bayti is a Lebanese word for “my home.”  The dot atop the “i” in Bahti is actually a Lebanese cedar, a symbol on the Lebanese flag.  Hoping to remain true to Lebanese cuisine, at present New Mexico’s ubiquitous green chile is not to be found in any item on the menu though Feryal admitted several guests have suggested it.  True to everything you’ve ever heard about Lebanese hospitality, Feryal saw how crowded our table was, discerned we had  just a bit more room for something else and brought us a plate of Mujaddara, a traditional vegetarian Lebanese dish made with lentils and rice, and garnished with caramelized onions.  She’s very proud of all the culinary fare at Bayti–and with good reason.

Dolmas

One of the items on our crowded table was Baba Ghanouj, a roasted eggplant dish made with tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds) and garlic.  Baba Ghanouj is one of those terms people just love to say, but most don’t know the genesis of the term.  It’s actually an Arabic term translating to “pampered papa” or “coy daddy” and is said to refer to the supposed invention of this very popular Lebanese staple by a member of a royal harem.  Bayti’s version is outstanding, one of if not the best in Albuquerque.  It’s easily Sr Plata’s favorite from among the dozens we’ve shared in Duke City restaurants.  With a thick and creamy consistency and a smoky flavor, it practically beckons for pita, another item Bayti prepares very well.

The gods of Mount Olympus may not actually have blessed humanity with ambrosia, nectar and dolmas, but many Middle Eastern nations believe stuffed grape leaves had to have been divinely inspired. Unfortunately because rolling the grape leaves can be very tedious, some restaurants across the Duke City serve canned dolmas.  Don’t count Bayti among them.  Bayti’s dolmas are hand-rolled and far (by several orders of magnitude) superior to their canned counterparts.  Sr Plata noted the absence of overly acidic brine on these dolmas, rendering them much more pleasant than some which can be lip-pursing.  These dolmas are served cold, are stuffed with short grain rice, tomato, parsley, onion ,mint, olive oil and lemon and seasoned liberally.  In Lebanon, dolmas are called Warak Arish, but that term isn’t quite as familiar.

Zaatar Manoushe

While most of our meal consisted of tapas-like smaller dishes, our main entree was a whole roasted chicken.  Raquel explained that the chicken is seasoned with eight different spices.  Most discernible were cardamom, sumac, pepper, salt and cumin.  Raquel expertly cut the chicken into pieces for us and we hungrily extricated the moist, juicy and delicious white and dark meat, leaving only a carcass of defleshed bones.  It was gratifying to find a whole roasted chicken as many restaurants tend to serve half portions (thigh, leg and breast).  Moreover, we were happy to find poultry this succulent and enjoyable.

Inexplicably, the notion of pizza for breakfast (and I’m not talking about frittata here) hasn’t caught on as much as some of us would like. Usually when you mention breakfast pizza, you’re usually talking about pizza left over from the night before and consumed in the morning for breakfast. In Lebanon, the notion of pizza for breakfast is a welcome one. In fact, the national breakfast dish of Lebanon is a pizza of sorts—and not one left over from the previous night. It’s called Zaatar Maoushe. There are two essential elements to this street food staple: Maoushe and Zaatar. Maoushe is the baked dough, typically having a crispy exterior and a warm, chewy interior. Zaatar is the key topping, or rather the combination of toppings, atop the dough. Zaatar is an herb that grows abundantly in the eastern Mediterranean, but on this pizza dish, it’s combined with other spices such as thyme, marjoram, sesame seeds and even sumac. The result is a delicious “pizza” sans tomato sauce, cheese and other ingredients popular across the fruited plain. If you’re tempted to try replicating this terrific find for breakfast at home, you’ll be happy to read that Bayti sells a pre-packaged mix.

Small Beef Pastries

Bayti offers a number of stuffed pastries, some (chicken rolls and beef rolls) resembling Mexican flautas or maybe even Chinese egg rolls and others (small beef pastry, small chicken pastry and small spinach pastry) resembling savory empanadas. The small beef pastries at Bayti are stuffed with ground beef, peas and carrots. More than any other item we enjoyed at Bayti, we found these pastries just a bit on the dry side. These pastries would benefit greatly from a dipping sauce of some sort. Regrettably Sr Plata and I had devoured most of the baba ghanouj, but the little we had left was a perfect foil for the soft, warm dough and its content. These are best served warm.

One of the glories of adulthood is being able to eat dessert first. Who needs to “save the best for last” when you can have the best first. That was my approach with Bayti’s rose pudding (Mahalabia), a sweet Arab dessert made of milk and sugar, thickened with cornstarch, laced with rose water and topped with ground pistachios and almonds. Rose water, flavored water made by steam-distilling crushed rose petals to obtain their essential oils, not only lends a floury bouquet, it imparts a sweet floral flavor to the pudding- (or flan) like dessert. Rose water has been used in desserts for centuries across the Middle East and was originally a by-product of rose perfume. A little goes a long way. Thankfully Bayti’s kitchen uses it judiciously—in perfect proportion to concoct this mysterious dessert.

Rose Pudding (Mohalabiya)

There’s another Arabic expression often uttered at the conclusion of a great meal.  It’s “Sallem Dayetkoom” which translates to “God bless your hands.”  It’s said to the cook as a compliment for an excellent meal. To Feryal and Raquel, here’s a hearty Sallem Dayetkoom” from Sr Plata and the nmgastronome.  We hope to enjoy your magnificent hospitality and wonderful food again and again.

Bayti Mediterranean Delicacies
5017 Menaul, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 366 4609
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 6 February 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Rose Pudding, Whole Roasted Chicken, Zaatar Manoushe, Small Beef Pastries, Baba Ghannouj, Dolmas
Restaurant Review #1025

Bayti Mediterranean Delicacies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Olympia Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Olympia Cafe on Central Avenue

For culinary diversity, it’s hard to beat the University of New Mexico (UNM) area in which restaurants with a broad socioeconomic appeal are congregated. Aside from academic enrichment, this area is nurturing a refreshing open-mindedness toward the cuisines of the world.  That seems to be a commonality in areas within easy walking distance of large urban universities.  Perhaps restaurateurs recognize that students–especially the oft-maligned millennials–are not only willing to open up their minds to new knowledge, but their wallets and their minds to new culinary experiences.

The UNM area inaugurated many of us from rural parts of the state to wonderful new taste sensations.  The heretofore enigmatic mysteries of the Orient unraveled themselves the first time we tasted the sweet and sour variations of Chinese food and braved cultural taboos to actually consume raw fish.  The first time we sampled real pizza ((my friend Captain Tuttle can attest to this), we cursed Chef Boyardee and Pizza Hut for deigning to call their tomato sauce slathered cardboard “pizza.”  We lost a bit of our naivete and innocence with each bite of each and every new culinary adventure we experienced.  Life for many of us would never be the same.

Place Your Order At The Front Counter

I dare say that for many UNM students, especially those from rural areas, their first tastes of Greek cuisine occurred at the Olympia Cafe on Central Avenue.  The Olympia Cafe is a venerable elder statesman among UNM area restaurants, launching in 1972.  That’s when Spiros and Marina Counelis began serving Greek cuisine directly across the street from New Mexico’s largest university.   In 2009, Spiros finally embarked on a well-deserved retirement–which lasted less than a year before he and his family launched Zorba’s Fine Greek Dining in the Heights Village shopping center at Montgomery and Juan Tabo. 

The Olympia Cafe was purchased by Charles Akkad who, for the most part, continued in the traditions established by his predecessor.  The greatest change Akkad made was in expanding operating hours.  Olympia is now open Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 10PM and on Sunday from 12PM to 8PM.  It’s a more accommodating schedule for those of us who neither live nor work in the UNM area.  Alas, in preparing this review, I came across a “Go Fund Me” page to save the Olympia Cafe which has apparently suffered severely from the erosion of business wrought by the ART project.

Front Dining Room

Even the thought of losing the Olympia Café sends shudders down the spines of the many loyalists this café has cultivated over the years. It seems imponderable that one could drive Route 66 and not be greeted by the unmistakable aromas of well-seasoned Greek cuisine wafting onto Central Avenue. Those aromas are not only a welcome respite from the choking haze of automobile emissions, they’re a prelude to deliciousness. Step into the restaurant and the first thing you see is a counter in which you place your orders. The specials of the day are scrawled on a slate board on a restaurant wall while the daily menu is situated just above the counter.

After the aromas, the next thing you’ll notice is the restaurant’s liveliness. During lunch hour rushes, the Olympia Cafe is bustling with activity. A salvo of orders is quickly filled by a well-practiced kitchen staff.  It doesn’t take very long.  Insofar as ambiance, picture lots of Mediterranean blue touches. In the front dining room a life-sized mural depicts a pulchritudinous athlete setting a torch alight. Seating is more functional than it is comfortable.

Gyros

You won’t be seated long before your number is called and you can walk to the counter to pick up your order.  Portion sizes are prolific.  It may take two of you to carry back the serving trays and their bounteous loads.  That’s especially true if you order one of the restaurant’s terrific appetizers and a dessert, too.  The best way to maximize your experience and appreciation of Greek cuisine is by ordering one of the menu’s combination combos (there are three combo platters on the menu, including one vegetarian).  The most diverse of those combo platters is the Olympia Platter, a combination platter of Moussaka, Pastichio, Gyros meat with tzatziki sauce and dolmathes.  A small Greek salad replete with feta cheese is also part of this platter. 

Pastichio might be described as the Greek answer to lasagna.  It’s a baked macaroni casserole layered with ground beef and topped with cheese and a cream topping.  All too often this entree is surprisingly dry, sometimes the byproduct of over-heating. That’s not the case at Olympia where it is moist and delicious, even tasting made to order.   Another casserole dish on the Olympia combo is Moussaka, a baked eggplant and ground beef casserole also topped with a cream sauce.  Moussaka is a very common dish in the Mediterranean region, but it’s vastly different in every country in which it is served.  The Greek version is my favorite.  Made correctly, the filling has a smooth and rich consistency and the eggplant is baked to perfection (not an easy feat).  Undercooked eggplant may leave your mouth with a metallic taste sensation that can last for hours.  At Olympia, the sole sensation you’ll experience is the desire for a second portion.

Greek Salad

6 September 2017: Perhaps the most popular entree at the Olympia Cafe as at other Greek restaurants are gyros, slices of beef and lamb broiled on a vertical split then wrapped in a pita with tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce. The beef and lamb amalgam is moist, tender and very well seasoned, but what enlivens it with flavor is the tzatziki which is made of finely chopped cucumber and dill and mixed with natural yoghurt. There’s a tinge of sweetness to the yoghurt along with the fresh, cool taste of the cucumber that goes very well with the meat.  If anything, we would have appreciated even more of the tzatziki.

In its annual food and wine issue for 2013, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded the Olympia Cafe a hot plate award for its chicken souvlaki.  Hot plate awards are accorded annually to some of the city’s most delicious dishes as seen by the magazine’s editors and staff.  The magazine describe this dish as “fit for the gods.”

Galatoboureko, baked custard between crisp filo topped with a light syrup

If you have any room left over, dessert options abound.  My favorite Greek dessert even though I’m still not able to pronounce it is Galatoboureko, baked custard between crisp phyllo topped with a light honeyed syrup.  The custard is rich and delicious but not at all cloying.  Galatoboureko is a Cypriot delicacy and one of the best desserts anywhere.

If your own life broadening experiences have yet to include Greek cuisine, the Olympia Cafe is a great restaurant in which to experience one of the world’s first and most delicious cuisines.

Olympia Cafe
2210 Central Avenue, S.E.
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 166-5222
LATEST VISIT: 6 September 2017
1st VISIT: 20 October 2008
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING:  18
COST: $$
BEST BET: Olympia Combo, Gyros, Galatoboureko

Olympia Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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