When Acropolis opened in the same strip center on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, that place was doomed. The Pappas food was okay, but the orders were always screwed up, at least ours were. For our Greek-to-go, we turned to the Acropolis salad. A deconstructed gyro and salad combo, it's a flavor bomb bargain for $10, easily feeds two normal appetites, and you actually get what you order.
But I am not here to discuss the merits of Acropolis or the demise of that Louis Pappas location; I am tipping you off to another place that you can rely on for a fast Greek food fix.
The Hungry Greek has two restaurants in Tampa, one in the Westchase area and this one, which occupies a strip center space on the west side of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, north of the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. It serves an extensive menu of Greek favorites in a noisy dining environment that I would compare to Moe's. The operation is also somewhat similar: You order at the service counter, pay, take a tabletop prop to identify your order, and your meal is brought to your table on plastic plates.
It's a simple system, in a simple atmosphere, and the food is simply good.
I ordered a gyro, and Blame It on Rio, my lunch recruit this day, put in a request for dolmades. I added a Greek side salad and Rio's "Light Meal" included one. The salad, the kind with the potato salad lurking deliciously beneath the vegetables, was not on a par with the outstanding Greek salads for which I drive to Tarpon Springs, but it was tasty. The greens were cold and fresh; the beet was sweet; and the dressing and feta were tangy.
I also liked the gyro, which consisted of crispy slices of a seasoned beef and lamb mixture that I watched being shaved off the spit; it included the traditional accompaniments of tomato, onion and tzatziki. The meat was not as intensely seasoned as that on most gyros I have sampled, the kind where you reek of garlic for days. Sometimes I am in the mood for major garlic overload, i.e., Acropolis, and sometimes not. For those who prefer less garlic, this gyro meat is a good alternative. The tzatziki was average; it didn't knock my socks off. The commercially prepared pita bread was soft and acceptable.
Since stuffed grape leaves are not my favorite things, it was good to have Rio with me to weigh in on the dolmades. Filled with ground meat, rice, tomato and herbs, they had a drizzle of lemony sauce on them, which was a nice twist. She approved, and I preferred them to the dolmades at Acropolis.
A Greek restaurant must have dessert, right? The Hungry Greek offers several sweet options, one being the perennial favorite - baklava. I am not usually a fan of honey-filled Greek pastries but let me tell you that I would get the baklava again. It was light, flaky and lip-smacking good.
The Hungry Greek will not leave you hungry, dissatisfied or penniless. Lunch for two, including two drinks, one dessert, tax and tip, was about $25.
Verdict: Fills a void for fast Greek food. I smell a chain coming on.
The Hungry Greek
2653 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.