Restaurants

Who ate my baklava?
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Hellas good

Honolulu offers lots of ways to go greek

Healthy, refreshing and made with fresh vegetables. No overpowering spices or seasonings. No excess oils or unhealthy fats. These are just some of the many reasons why people eat and love Greek cuisine. Since most of us don’t have the means to fly halfway around the world for a gyro, we must get our Mediterranean fix here in Honolulu and the options, though not quite extensive, are still quite good.

For a get-together with friends…

You probably know Kahala’s Olive Tree, which has become a local institution since it opened in the early 1990s. The restaurant is often packed—sometimes too packed for comfort—and the PA system they call orders on is similar to that of a supermarket, but people keep coming back for a reason—the little eatery is highly recommended. The menu is simple and straightforward, offering classic takes on a few well-known appetizers, souvlaki, falafels and salads. The cheese and Serrano ham with pita bread appetizer is tasty, and I like the yeagantes—giant white beans in a tomato sauce. The Olive Tree is BYOB, and wine shop Oliver is conveniently right next door to take care of your wine and spirits.

4614 Kilauea Avenue #107 next to Kahala Mall, 5pm–10pm daily, Cash or check only, 737-0303

Or…

Thanks to its Puck’s Alley location, the Greek Corner on University Avenue is popular with UH students. Gyros—including chicken and mahi mahi—are all under $10 and are served with a choice of fries or salad. Greek fries are $3.95 and fried calamari is $6.95. I ordered grape leaves (dolmas) as an appetizer and it was enough to suffice as a small meal. A mixture of rice, parsley, tomatoes and onions are stuffed and rolled in grape leaves and then steamed. Dipped in a cool yogurt sauce, it’s a healthy and filling snack. Greek Corner’s extensive menu includes many vegetarian friendly dishes, including tabouli salad—a grain salad of parsley, bulgar wheat and tomatoes dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and paprika and the mixed vegetables platter loaded with hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouli, spanakopita, falafel and pita bread. The food is decent, though not quite delicious. At $24 a bottle, The Greek Corner offers a small selection of wines for purchase in addition to chilled beers to complement your meal.

1025 University Avenue (Puck’s Alley), Mon–Sat 11am–3pm & 5pm–10pm; Sun 12pm–3pm, 5pm–9pm, parking in back, 942-5503

If you are on the go…

Why not try Leo’s Taverna Express? There are just 10 items on the menu and most customers order the gyros sandwich meal for $7.85. The perfect savory alternative to a bland, cold cut lunch, the meal includes fries, a drink and a gyro. Pieces of shaved lamb, salad and tzatziki sauce are sandwiched taco-style in a piece of fried pita to make a gyro. A gyro sandwich by itself is $5.25 and if you’re just looking for a snack try the spanakopita for $3.50. It’s like a turnover stuffed with feta cheese and spinach. Prices here feel a little high but once you see the fresh vegetables, seasoned meats and overall quality ingredients that make your plate it’s not hard to understand why. Call in phone orders for a quicker pick up.

801 Kaheka Street in front of Don Quijote, 10am–8pm daily, cash only, 949-2225

For a quiet lunch…

Head over to Greek Marina in Hawaii Kai for a relaxing meal away from the noise and traffic. Unlike The Greek Corner, which counts college bar The Varsity as a neighbor, Greek Marina, situated in Koko Marina Center, has patio waterfront seating making for a peaceful and calm dining environment. Greek Marina, because of its location outside of town, is a dollar or two cheaper than its sister location on University. The appetizer platter (for three or more people) at $4.95 a person is packed with tabouli, dolmas, falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, tzatziki and pita. An order for three people is actually enough food for a party of five. The platter is also a great way to ease first time diners into Greek cuisine. I recommend the souvlaki platter—kabobs served with rice, salad and a side of pita. The souvlaki sandwich is tasty as well but the platter gives you more for your money and is easier to share. I favor the lamb ($12.95) but I hear the chicken ($11.95) is just as good. Can’t decide? Order the combination of chicken, lamb and shrimp for $14.95. Another plus? It’s dog friendly.

7192 Kalanianaole Highway #E126 at Koko Marina Center, Mon–Thu 11am–3pm, 5pm–9pm, Fri–Sat 11am–10pm, Sun 11am–9pm, 396-8441

For a romantic date or special occasion…

Lit up with Christmas lights, surrounded by brick and an iron wrought gate and littered with random white greek statues edged in between shrubbery, The Fat Greek calls to mind the family house in the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I tried the spicy Sicilian fish—a fish stew with a kick served on rice with a side of salad ($12.95). I recommend it to any fish lover. The lemon soup, creamy and zesty at the same time, managed to be refreshing and light. A friend said the soup paired with her greek salad made for the perfect meal. The “Papa Special” is a plate of New Zealand rack of lamb marinated in a special house sauce, rosemary and garlic and potato wedges and greek salad.

3040 Waialae Avenue across from City Mill, 11am–10pm daily, 734-0404