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ETHNIC FOOD

A smorgasbord of international delights to carry-out.
By Chris Tucker |

IT WAS NOT too many years ago that Campisi’s, El Chico and El Fenix were the only names in town for what was then called “foreign” food. The term Tex-Mex had not yet been coined because it was not needed; Tex was the only sort of Mex around, more “authentic” Mexico City food being several years away in most parts of the city. And how about Italian? Get four or five Dallas natives together- okay, settle for two or three-and ask them when they had their first “pizza pie.” They probably remember the coming of their neighborhood pizza parlor as a genuine event. As late as the mid-Sixties in much of Dallas, it was still possible to impress friends by serving up this exotic dish.

Obviously, those naive days are gone forever. More Mexican, Italian and other ethnic restaurants are opening than closing in Dallas today, a sure sign of our yen for international food. We also show increasing confidence in ethnic takeout food. “Stop and pick something up on the way home” used to mean burgers, barbecue or maybe fried chicken. Now it’s easy to carry home pastichio, fleischkaese, kotopolo rigani or fajitas- and as Dallas continues to build an international cuisine, more and more of us are doing just that.

But be careful out there. You don’t want to white-bag it just anywhere. Some eating establishments simply are not prepared to give thorough carryout service. Few restaurants categorically refuse takeout requests, but their carryout may be limited to the menu’s most elementary offerings. Another caveat: In many restaurants that oh-so-elusive ambiance, the food critic’s favorite phantom, may jack the prices up considerably. You can take the food home but you’ll pay extra for the atmosphere, which cannot be packed into little white containers.

Keep in mind, too, that carryout does not always mean phone-in. Many restaurant owners are glad to make their orders to-go, but a few are reluctant to accept phone-in orders. They’ve been left holding the bag too many times. You’ve probably read about those lawless teens who phone in for 17 combination pizzas or 22 super deluxe chili burgers, with absolutely no intention of picking up the order.

So be ready to wait awhile at some ethnic eateries. Sip a glass of tea or an imported beer while your order is prepared. Actually, some of the places in this survey of Dallas’ ethnic smorgasbord are so colorful, so different or so downright funky that waiting can be a pleasure.

ITALIAN



DiPalma. Why does Di-Palma exist? For perhaps the best possible reasons. “We wanted to have an adventure,” says Jerome Feder, co-owner with his wife, Christine. “We’d had other careers [he in law, she in a family business], and we wanted something that would be exciting for us.” They found Dallas “aggressive, but very nice. Not small, but not a New York,” Feder says.

And why the name, which conjures up thoughts of a plump Italian mama worrying in the kitchen? “It had a ring, a melody,” Feder says. “It represents an Italian flair.” In its short history (the café-market is only 15 months old), DiPalma’s Italian flair has meant a culinary adventure for many Dallasites.

DiPalma began with a multinational inventory, but the Feders soon realized that the store was perceived as Italian and decided to capitalize on the fact. Now, says Jerome Feder, “there’s no way to measure” the popularity of DiPalma’s pastas and salads, among them a tangy curried chicken salad with grapes, apples and nuts. And DiPalma also has the largest Italian wine selection in the Southwest. (1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Angelo’s Taste of Italy. There’s just one thing wrong with the name at this venerable Casa Linda restaurant: Angelo’s gives far more than a taste of Italy with its hefty entrees. If it’s been a while since you’ve had Angelo’s pizza, you’re missing one of the best in Dallas. Too many pizzas come with their ingredients glued to the crust in a mouth-scalding glaze. Not so with Angelo’s pizzas, which arrive laden with peppers, onions, anchovies and what-have-you in loose, tempting layers. Angelo’s cannelloni is also a first-class dish with blended cheeses and creamy beef inside. (328 Casa Linda Plaza. 327-7777. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.).

Pasta Plus. With nine kinds of fresh pasta (conchig-lie to ziti) and seven beautiful sauces (alfredo to vongolé), Pasta Plus can send you home well prepared to play Italian chef. Or, if you’d rather just heat and eat, try the frozen cannelloni, lasagne, or meat and cheese ravioli. It’s an attractive place, full of the aroma of Italian pastries and fresh-baked Italian breads. (Preston Royal Center. 373-3999. Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.)

Al’s Food Store. Al Cascio says he has the most complete line of not only Italian but also Greek and Middle Eastern import foods in the Southwest, and there seems little reason to doubt him. Al’s carries more than 35 blends of imported coffees and devotes 12 feet of shelf space to some 30 varieties of olive oil, both virgin and ex-travirgin. If looking at the smorgasbord on Al’s shelves makes you hungry, step back to the meat market for a meatball sandwich in a heady red sauce or a few pounds of Al’s specialty, home-made Italian sausage. The guisido, a hot Mexican stew, is also good, and Al carries some of the best dolmas around. Don’t miss the cheeses, especially the hard-to-find kefoly-teri. (8309 Park at Greenville. 363-3778. Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)

Peppino’s Too. A picture-book Italian restaurant, perfect for those intimate little candle-and-vino dinners, Peppino’s Too is also a good place for lunchtime carryout food. You’ll have to forego the tempting appetizers such as provolone fritta; fried-cheese dishes are just not meant for the road. But the fettuccine alfredo here continues to be satisfying and aromatic. Another treat is spaghetti alla carbonara, adorned with Parmesan cheese, cream, bacon and onions. (3326 N. Fitzhugh. 521-4560. Mon 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tue-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sat & Sun 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.



GERMAN



Kuby’s. In 1961, when Karl Kuby bought a 1200-square-foot nook in Snider Plaza, he intended to start a little meat market, “selling sausage in the old family tradition.” However, he quickly learned that many of his customers didn’t know that old tradition and were reluctant to buy unfamiliar German sausages. So, counting on the cosmopolitan tastes of the nearby SMU community, Kuby opened a lunch counter to serve as a tasting ground for his meat products. The lunch business snowballed, and today, Kuby’s is an 8,000-square-foot hybrid. The dining room adjoins the market, where juicy bratwurst, knockwurst and other sausages are prepared in the European style.

Kuby’s sausages are made by hand, without the automatic tie linkers that produce the supermarkets’ uniform product. Also, Kuby says, his sausages contain little of the curing agents nitrate and nitrite. “We let it hang and cure longer,” he says. “We don’t need extra ingredients to make it more appetizing. Nature takes care of things.”

Kuby’s also provides more than 20 varieties of bread with origins in Canada, Germany, France, Holland and other countries, including a chewy Bauernbrot rye that makes beautiful music with Kuby’s Black Diamond ched-dar or baby Swiss cheese. Kuby’s also caters; its Swedish meatballs are worth remembering for your next party. (6601 Snider Plaza. 363-2231. Mon-Sat 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Hans Mueller’s. Hans Mueller, best known to many as the sausage franchise of the State Fair of Texas, has an international reputation as a maker of fine sausage. That’s according to his citations from the Copenhagen and Utrecht International Conferences. But you be the judge. Drop by for an auf-schnitt, a sampler of a dozen or so of Mueller’s more than 50 types of sausage. Especially rewarding are the bier-schinken, Jagdwurst, Schin-kenwurst and fleischkaese (a veal and pork loaf). Put any or all of these on thick German bread, liberally daub with Mueller’s special Dussel-dorf mustard and the result is a sandwich with presence. The cheese selection here is limited, but ask for a buttery Swedish marvel, a farmer cheese called Scandic. (2549 Southwell. 241-2793. Mon-Thur &Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Der Schnapps Und Snacks. A pleasant way to enjoy this cottage-commercial German beer garden is to place your order to go, then sit on the terrace sipping a German brew and listen to the strolling accordionist. None of the food here is exceptional one way or the other; as always, the all-you-can-stuff buffet (not available for takeout) is the drawing card, but the sandwiches and other carryout items are of generous proportions. (3021 Bachman Lake. 352-8982. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-mid-night. Food served until 11 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

The Blue Front. “Ger-man-style” is the watchword here, and if that seems a bit like hedging, it is. At this (literally) underground café – downtown at One Main Place-only the illegally hot mustard and the explosive horseradish preserve the full-bodied character of traditional German cooking. The sausage sandwich we took home did not seem to be Ger-man-style, merely overcooked and underspiced. Likewise with the ersatz German potato salad and ho-hummish rye bread. The cabbage and sauerkraut dishes seem only marginally “authentic.” But for those who work downtown and want a sandwich to take back to the office, the Blue Front is reliable enough. Our visit was also marred by constant loud bickering between two waitresses. Luckily, we were getting our food to go; pity those who had to stay around. (1310 Elm, One Main Place. 741-7560. Mon-Fri 7 a.m.-3:30p.m. Closed Sat & Sun.)



ORIENTAL



Royal China. Where do Randy White, Ernie Staut-ner, Charlie Pride and Martina Navratilova go for good Chinese food? Buck Kao’s Royal China, where they’re greeted warmly by a man as fascinating as his food is delicious. An officer under Chiang Kai-Shek, Kao fled to the island of Taiwan after mainland China went Communist. He retired from the army in 1966 and for the next seven years worked in private business in Taiwan. In 1973, Kao brought his family to San Francisco, where he saw a newspaper ad for an opening in a Dallas restaurant. After a visit to Dallas, Kao says, he knew he’d found his future home. “I fell in love with Dallas from the very start,” he says.

The feeling has been mutual since Kao opened the Royal China almost nine years ago. His business is 90 percent repeat customers, drawn as much by the staffs unflagging courtesy as by Kao’s meticulously crafted Oriental entrées. If your shock absorbers are in good shape, take home the sizzling rice soup or three delicacies soup laden with shrimp, scallops and chicken. The barbecued spareribs are also a good bet, but save room for the main courses. Dry-stir beef married perfectly with a light garlic sauce; sliced chicken with mushrooms and bamboo shoots was a delight; but the piéce de résistance (or its Chinese equivalent) was royal prawn, in a heavy butter sauce, so tender it began to dissolve when lifted on a fork. (201 Preston Royal. 361-1771. Mon-Sun 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.)

Tam’s Egg Roll. Tam’s may be named for what it does best. The egg rolls here are almost everything they should be: stuffed with spicy meat and crisp vegetables in a firm – not tough – shell guaranteed to prevent the dreaded Egg Roll Collapse. The purist might point to a smidgeon more grease than would exist in the ideal egg roll, but that’s the only flaw. Tarn’s also sells 20 other fast-food entrees, and we are talking fast: Chicken with almonds, prepared from scratch, took less than five minutes. Szechuan beef was pleasingly fiery, and the mixed fried rice, so easy to ruin, was a nice surprise. So were the prices; nothing on the menu exceeds $5. (7722 Forest Lane across from Medical City. 373-9691. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Jung’s Oriental Foods and Gifts. Looking for alamag bagoono, mung beans or sweet langka? How about frozen scomber or dried young barracuda? If you want to do some serious Oriental cooking, try Jung’s, which has everything the books say you need but you can never find. It seems strange to look into a freezer and exchange stares with a frozen herring, but you’ve got to admire the charms of a language that gives us ca lac pla chon- mudfish, to you. (2519 N. Fitzhugh. 827-7653. Daily 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.)

China Inn. It’s easy to sail on by the China Inn, lost as it is in the welter of shops and signs near Medallion Center. But you’ll only need to search once. After your first visit, you can phone-in your order and enjoy almost anything on the menu. Almost. Oddly, the more adventurous entrées are dependable here, while some of the simpler dishes just don’t wok out. Sweet and sour shrimp is tilted to the sweet, almost cloying side, and the egg roll’s soggy exterior serves only to call attention to its sparse filling. Fried wonton was a tasteless bummer, but hot-and-spiced fried shrimp was a revelation, simmering in hot bean paste and ketchup-an unlikely, savory tandem. Char sue ding turned out to be diced Chinese barbecued pork, sautéed with mushrooms, snow-pea pods and Chinese vegetables and topped off with toasted almonds. The combination is delightful. The same can be said of the mao shiu pork, a revolutionary dish featuring sliced pork tenderloin, Chinese cabbage, egg blossoms and mushrooms, served with Mandarin-style pancakes. (6521 E. Northwest Hwy. 369-7733. Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5 p.m.-midnight, Sat 5 p.m.-midnight. Sun 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Texaco Lunch Box. Does it seem churlish to knock such a nifty, innovative little place? The Lunch Box, surely you’ve heard, is an actual functioning Texaco gas station that also sells Chinese fast-food. It’s fast, yes. Before you can read the press clippings on the wall (the Lunch Box has been written up by the likes of The New York Times and Newsweek), your order is ready, usually accompanied by some friendly banter from the owner. The food’s okay, substantial, and maybe it’s irrelevant to note that whatever you order, it all tastes much the same. But remember Mark Twain’s line about the lady preacher: Like the dog who walked on its hind legs, she didn’t do it well, but it’s a wonder she did it at all. (3801 Ross at Washington. 821-5036. Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Asuka. Yoshio Funakushi, owner of Asuka, serves sound philosophy along with authentic and usually uncompromising Japanese cuisine. “We want to get the full advantage of the natural, essential ingredients in our food,” he says through an interpreter. In Japan, he says, this means lots of fresh vegetables and raw fish, their tastes relatively unobscured by cooking techniques or distracting sauces. In Texas, he has discovered, traditional Japanese offerings like sashimi and sushi are not quite the rage. His ebi tempura (deep fried shrimp with vegetables) and other tempura dishes are more popular here. The ebi tempura is subtly flavored and feather light; so light, in fact, that an order of buttered shake (salmon roasted in butter sauce) was needed to stave off hunger. Most of Asuka’s dishes can be taken home, but some-especially those to be prepared at the table-are best enjoyed at the restaurant. (7136 Greenville. 363-3537. Tue-Sun 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Closed Monday.)



MEXICAN



Pepe’s. It’s with mixed feelings that we’ve watched this favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican cafe grow beyond an early cult following to its current crowded popularity. The food started out good and has gotten even better, and Pepe has added another stamp-sized dining room. But considering the crowds, Pepe’s takeout orders come surprisingly fast.

“Pepe” is really Joe Gon-zales, who has been in the restaurant business in Dallas for more than 16 years with El Poblano, El Chico, and Raphael’s. He was also the “J” in A.J. Gonzales, the popular Harwood Street cafe that he owned with his brother, Abel. Now he’s hitting it big with Pepe’s, which recently celebrated its first anniversary.

“We’re constantly trying to upgrade things here,” says Gonzales, who welcomes comments and suggestions from his customers. It would be hard to upgrade the already scrumptious chicken dishes-which travel very well, by the way. Try the chicken nachos and the flau-titas on the pollito plate. A good introduction to Pepe’s takeout menu is the Little Bit of Pepe’s, which includes fa-jitas, carnitas, polio, rice, beans, flour tortillas, nachos and chili relleno. The carne asada, a choice cut of tenderloin with papitas, is mouth-wateringly tender, as are the carnitas ala tampiquena – tenderloin strips prepared with wine, butter and spices. Viva Pepe’s. (3011 Routh. 698-9445. Mon-Fri 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Rosita’s. Our takeout experience with Rosita’s produced a typically democratic result: split right down the middle, hopelessly deadlocked. About half the items we imported were excellent; the others were mediocre at best. To be sure, we were warned by a helpful employee that the tacos would not survive a long trip; they were soggy before we got them home-or halfway home, anyway. However, the VIP nachos (beef, chicken, guaca-mole, sour cream, Monterey lack and cheddar) were delicious even after being reheated. Tacos al carbon were a bit dry. The flour tortillas were top-notch; the rice and beans strictly El Canno, and so on. A definite mixed bag. (4906 Maple. 521-4741. Mon-Fri 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat & Sun 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Dallas Tortilla Factory. A toothsome tradition in the Mexican-American community, this unimposing old building sends out super boxed tamales by the dozen, tortillas, Mexican barbecue and “a few other special items.” One of them is Sunday-morning menudo, widely touted as a miracle hangover cure. It’s not for squeamish Anglo tummies, but the rest of the Factory’s offerings are well worth waiting in line, which you may have to do – no tables and chairs here. (2717 Harwood. 742-3888. Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sun 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)

Gonzales. Can we hope that Gonzales grows into a chain? The menu here is surprisingly extensive with bonded Mexican fare like cabrito, young goat with rice and beans. The chorizo con huevo, a burrito with egg and sausage, lacked seasoning, but the pork gordita, a Mexican pocket sandwich, made up for it. Gonzales has a drive-through window, so you’ll be home and munching even sooner. (4333 Maple. 528-2960. Mon-Sun 7 a.m.-9 p.m.)

Las Cazuelas. If this cozy Greenville Avenue café served only its fajitas al carbon, that alone would justify its existence. This is a pound of savory beefskirts, charcoal broiled and served with what may be the hottest pico de gallo in town. We also liked the quesadillas (corn tortillas with cheese, ham, guacomole and sour cream) and lengua en salsa, beef tongue sautéed in salsa ranchero and retried beans. Contrary to our fears, all three dishes nicely weathered the trip home. (2001 Greenville. 821-0924. Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m.)

El tio Lupe. Looking for that next fix of bona fide Mexican food, thinking to find it in some seamy-looking casita? Look no further. You won’t go to El Tio Lupe for lessons in interior decorating. The look here is Six Flags souvenir shop, with every gringo’s stereotypes firmly in place-the bull horns, bric-a-brac ironwork, Velourist paintings of gutsy matadors. But you’re taking the food home, remember? Remember. And when it comes to Lupe’s food, prepare for some very pleasant takeout surprises.

“Anything from a little snack to a big meal” is promised on the menu here, and Lupe’s makes good on that claim. For a little snack, gamble and win with the caldo de pescado, a zippy Mexican soup afloat with delicate pieces of trout or pescado del dia. For a big meal, go with chicken a la Veracruz, a fat chicken breast-and-a-half surrounded by a hill of tender rice, green peppers, parsley and olives. For in-between appetites, do take out the tacos here. The shells will lose their crunch in transit, which only means you’ll have to eat ’em in the basket. They’re great. Lupe’s doesn’t skimp on the beef or chicken, so they don’t overstuff the shells with lettuce to hide the crime. For breakfast, pack one of Lupe’s machacados con hue-vos to the office and enjoy this tasty amalgam of scrambled eggs, slivers of hash and beans. (5006 Lemmon. 526-1082. Mon-Thur 10 a.m.-10 .m., Fri & Sat 10 a.m.-4 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m.)

De Leon’s. Unlike the fast-food chain that boasts of doing one thing right, Chantos de Leon and family do several things right. Perhaps the most righteous offering here is the mariachi, a thick flour tortilla stuffed with your choice of beans, huevos and chorizo, etc. The deluxe nachos (where will this trend toward nacho hyperbole end?) are reasonably deluxe, heavy on the cheese, sour cream and other usuals. De Leon’s is licensed to sell the hottest green salsa in four counties, so watch out. Everything’s to go here except the menudo. (3519 McKin-ney. 522-4430. Mon & Tue 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wed, Thur & Sun 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri & Sat 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m.)



GREEK



The Torch. The Greeks, who invented politics, law, and philosophy, did pretty well with food, too. Dallas does not have many Greek restaurants, but the few we have are dependable bastions of this simple, earthy cuisine. The patriarch of Greek restaurants in Dallas is The Torch of Acropolis, an Oak Cliff landmark for almost 40 years. Owner Chris Semos divides his time between politics (he is currently a candidate for county commissioner) and the family business, which opened its doors in November 1948.

Semos says the restaurant has helped him to stay in touch with the people he represents. “The main fault of too many officeholders is that they are insulated from the people they represent,” Semos says. “That’s not a problem for me. Here, 1 listen to hundreds of different people every day.”

Semos is certainly not isolated. On a good day, The Torch may sell as many as 200 orders of the house favorite, souflaki, billed on the menu as “the main dish of warriors and peaceful shepherds of the Orient 2,000 years ago.” The shish kebab-style dish, featuring chunky cubes of beef marinated in wine, is a Greek classic accompanied by-a foil-wrapped baked potato and cole slaw? Semos says the incongruous mix represents a compromise between traditional Greek and Texas tastes.

“When my father [Victor Semos] started The Torch, Dallas had a few Mexican and Italian places, and that was it,” Semos says. “Many people thought he was a little crazy for opening a Greek restaurant out here. We’ve had to adjust some to Texans’ liking baked potatoes and things like that.”

While waiting for your order at The Torch, you can’t overlook the huge murals depicting the history of Greece. Likewise the gold-plated Greek Orthodox church candles and Semos’ collection of Greek antiques, artifacts and firearms. Don’t pass up the dessert tray, sporting the official baklava of this year’s Neiman-Marcus Greek Fortnight. (3620 W. Davis. 331-5521. Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat 4:30-10 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.)

Panteli’s. This newcomer to Dallas’ Greek contingent will have to go some to match its more established counterparts. The Greek country salad is light and invigorating, combining cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions and laced with that Greek staple, feta cheese. The gyro, a pocket sandwich, is stuffed so generously with thin, crispy meat and redolent sauces that its pocket sometimes runneth over, making it better for eating at home anyway. But the dol-mas are pale and Americanized, lacking any real bite, and the pasta salad is unhappily bland. (1928 Greenville. 823-8711, Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Food served until midnight. Closed Sunday.)

Kosta’s. With its serene evening view of Bachman Lake and its airy, sunlit dining room, Kosta’s beckons you to stick around and forget about carryout food. But when you’re pressed for time or hungry enough to put appetite above aesthetics, take home Kosta’s excellent veal lemanato with its rich lemon sauce. The souflaki was juicy and flavorful, but the three lonesome chunks of beef could have used some reinforcements. The traditional Greek salad that comes with most entrees is serviceable, but the mixed vegetables on the lunchtime menu are undistinguished. (2755 Bach-man Drive. 351-4592. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.)

Little Gus. This Greenville Avenue fixture has been around, under one name or another, since the early Twenties. Tony Mantzuranis, co-owner with Pete Lucas, says his Uncle Gus took over the cafe in 1949 when it was known as Greenville Avenue Lunch. At the age of 6, Tony began helping out around the place, though he was still too short to see over the counters. Hence the name “Little Gus.” In the late Fifties-Tony doesn’t remember the year – Uncle Gus changed the cafe’s name to Little Gus in honor of his nephew.

Little Gus’ hamburgers have been a big draw for years, but Mantzuranis and Lucas tampered with a winning formula in 1980 when they decided to turn the cafe into a Greek restaurant in the evenings.

Mantzuranis, whose parents came from Greece, says that he and Lucas were cautious about expanding their Greek menu. “We just had three or four entrees at first,” he says. “We really didn’t know what to expect. We perfected the things we could do well for a couple of months before putting them on the menu.”

From its fairly simple beginnings (Mantzuranis thinks that his first Greek dish may have been moussaka, layers of eggplant and ground beef in cream sauce), Little Gus’ chalkboard menu has grown larger and more complex. Now the board may list as many as 11 entrees on some evenings, ranging from a tasty, huge lamb stew to pas-tichio and kotopolo rigani, a zesty chicken platter. And if your benchmark for judging Greek food is the dolmas (rice and beef wrapped in cabbage or grape leaves) rest assured: Gus’ dolmas are heavy with herbs and seasonings and large enough to serve as a meal. Recent additions to the menu include a Iamb shish kebab and an appetizer plate featuring marinated mushrooms. Takeout orders are welcome in this neighborhood cafe; Mantzuranis says some regulars bring their own plates to be loaded with Greek goodies. (1916 Greenville. 826-4910. Mon-Fri 6-9 p.m., Sat & Sun 6-10p.m.)

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