Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekends and holidays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Atmosphere: Chic but informal.
Price range: Dinner entrees, $4.25 for quiche lorraine to $6.95 for shish kebob. Sandwiches, subs, omelets and salad plates in the $2 to $4 range; pizzas $4.50 (medium, plain) to $11 (large, everything).
Reservations: Not required or necessary.
Credit cards: None; personal checks accepted.
Special features: Small step at entrance, but otherwise accessible to wheelchairs and has tables of proper height. Highchairs and booster seats available. Carryout. Home delivery in Fairfax City. Metered parking in back.
Squeezed between two Fairfax City bars on Main Street, the Havabite Eatery offers legendary souvlaki and decent pizzas to the lawyer lunch crowd in town. But by night, the crowd thins, and the country chic restaurant becomes a place where, for less than $25, a family of four can get food worth leaving home for. And that includes dessert.
The place is tiny, with stucco walls, wooden pedestal tables, side booths and a bar in the corner that caters to persons wanting a beer before they go home from work. We arrived before 6 o'clock, when few tables were filled, but families started drifting in soon afterward.
We bypassed the pizza and the chance to have it served on its special pedestal plate -- to our children's sorrow. Our son soon found solace in a hamburger deluxe ($2.45), which comes with french fries and cole slaw.
All entrees are $1 less for children, which made the spaghetti ($3.95 for adults) ordered by our daughter a bargain at $2.95.
My husband, a great lover of souvlaki ($3.25), chose instead to order its cousin shish kebob ($6.95). Havabite uses beef for both dishes instead of the traditional lamb, and marinates it in a sauce heavy with oregano and lemon.
The shish kebob is charcoal-broiled with tomatoes, green pepper and onions -- traditionally burned at backyard barbeques, since the meat takes longer to cook than the vegetables. Havabite regretfully follows tradition here as well, but my husband says he's grown accustomed to the charred taste.
The dish comes with rice pilaf, and is garnished with a Havabite staple: Salonica peppers and Greek olives.
I ordered the quiche lorraine ($4.25), which came as two small slices with the same garnish. Havabite's quiche uses swiss and Parmesan cheese to flavor the custard -- a nice change from the usual Gruye re -- and is remarkably filling.
All entrees come with a salad (bland iceberg lettuce with practically plastic tomatoes and an oregano-based dressing) and garlic bread. The latter is not the sort that comes dripping with olive oil or fiery with red pepper, but has enough solid garlic flavor to scare the vampires away for a day or two.
After gobbling down one slice of this, our daughter found herself facing an enormous wooden bowl of spaghetti laden with a single meatball -- about the weight of a McDonald's hamburger. The meatball, which seemed to mix sausage with the ground beef, was flavorful, but the spaghetti proved overwhelming after a few bites. Our daughter contented herself with eating her brother's cole slaw (sugary and creamy) and begging for dessert.
Her brother, after consuming half of his mediocre french fries and taking two bites of his large, charcoal-broiled, rather good hamburger, joined her in lobbying for dessert. The kids' ample leftovers were put into doggy bags by our understanding waitress, and we relented on the dessert requests.
Ice cream (60 cents a scoop, two scoops for $1.10) came in interesting flavors like pistachio and heavenly hash (chocolate chips and marshmallows).
The baklava ($1.35) was thin on the phyllo dough and heavy on the honey/nut mixture, with a strong cinnamon flavor I found unusual but tasty. Cheesecake ($1.50) was rich and creamy.
The Havabite is a nice place for families at night. The placemats were paper and invited scribbling; the waitresses provided fast service and were quick to mop up the inevitable spills; and the bill -- which came to $23.76, including tax -- arrived with balloons and lollipops.