For a Gyro or Veggie Fare, Hit the Greek Spot
By Moira McLaughlin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, Dec. 19, 2008
At a glance: The word "spot" in the name cannot be overemphasized. From the outside, the small, clean carryout joint with fluorescent blue and red lights over the one window and door looks more like a coffee hut than a place big enough for food preparation. Inside, the space has a sort of jail-cell feel to it with tiled ceilings and walls, heavy, blue metal doors and one table for two in the small space. Ambiance? Zip. The Greek Spot, on 11th street NW, seems like it would fit perfectly in a college town full of hungry, broke frat brothers for whom the plastic foam containers and plastic forks would seem normal. And in fact, in the 30 minutes we waited and then dined, the clientele was just men, some even wearing dirty ball caps and sweat shirts. Frat boys, rejoice!
You can call the Greek Spot for takeout, order in person and wait, or, on Mondays and Thursdays, have your meal delivered if you live in the area. It's all pretty fast.
On the menu: What looks like a gyro and tastes like a gyro but isn't really a gyro? A vegetarian gyro, of course. "That's a 3 a.m. thing I made up one night," said Gregory G. Kavadias, 38, the Greek Spot's owner, who grew up in Olney and now lives near the U Street corridor. His parents owned a Greek restaurant on Capitol Hill, and many of his recipes are his mother's.
But these days, Kavadias is a vegetarian. His menu offers plenty of meat dishes, but it is heavy on vegetarian entrees, including a veggie burger, a veggie steak and cheese, and veggie pasticho, which is layered macaroni and ground soy crumbles. The veggie gyro tastes like the real thing. It's appetizing, if a little bland. That's a recurring complaint about the fare here. The dishes could all use more punch. The hummus could benefit from more garlic. The pork souvlaki on a skewer is appetizing but dry. The falafel is tasty, but ask for a side of yogurt-based tzatziki sauce to add flavor.
All the platters come with a generous portion of fresh Greek salad and delicious buttery and moist orzo pasta. The sides, including fresh olives and rice pilaf, come in a plastic container big enough to share with a couple of friends.
My favorite meal was the eggplant Parmesan special with a side of pasta. It's a good winter dish and was soft but not soggy and smattered with a chunky red sauce.
If you're not into Greek food, the Greek Spot offers more standard fare including cheeseburgers. It's hard to compete with Five Guys in this city when it comes to tasty, fast and cheap burgers, but the Greek Spot does a pretty good job. It's a big, flat, fresh and juicy burger. You should note that it comes with mayonnaise, not ketchup, so specify if you want something different.
An impressive addition to such a low-key place as the Greek Spot are the desserts. Both the chocolate cake and the baklava were delicious and fresh. The homemade baklava was especially enjoyable, very sweet and swimming in honey and cinnamon.
At your service: This is a friendly place, and everyone from the owner to the kid on the skateboard who delivered a meal to our door seemed happy to be working there. That's the Greek Spot bonus: free and fast (about 30 minutes) delivery on Mondays and Thursdays. Kavadias is hoping to add more nights soon.
What to avoid: I didn't like the skordalia, which is cold mashed potatoes with olive oil and garlic served with pita. It was so dense I could hardly eat it with my plastic spoon.
Wet your whistle: If you ask me, the next best thing to a cold, hoppy beer (no alcohol here, folks) is Boylan's sweet, fizzy, black cherry soda. The Greek Spot also offers Boylan's grape and diet sodas.
Bottom line: It's a cold Monday night, and all you want to do is curl up on the sofa. But you're also hungry and bored with the same Thai food takeout options. The Greek Spot could be just what you need. The food is not about nuanced taste or presentation. It's about good, fast, convenient and inexpensive offerings that will satisfy your hunger pangs. (Note to all you dirty-cap-and-sweat-shirt-wearing U Street bar hoppers, the Greek Spot is open late on weekends.)