Campus Restaurant Roundup, Summer 2008

El Greco

3016 Guadalupe Ste. C-200, 474-7335
Monday-Thursday, 10am-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-10pm; closed Sunday  
www.elgrecoaustin.com

Austin's new Greek restaurant is owned and operated by chef Jake Konstantinidis, with help from his mother, Athina Konstantin­idis; his aunt, chef Kiki Vasiliadou; and a treasure trove of generations-old family recipes. The space takes a modern approach to Greek tradition and feels welcoming and homey. Free parking is available in the attached garage and the lot across 31st Street to the north. Beer and wine are available, including choices imported from Greece.

We've eaten at El Greco several times and enjoyed each visit. I'm a big sucker for the silky avgolemono soup ($4.99/7.99), a classic version of rich chicken stock, lemon, tempered egg yolk, rice, and chicken meat – tart and refreshing. The chickpea salad ($5.99) is delightful: chickpeas tossed with red onion, fresh dill, and a lemony vinaigrette with oregano. They do a variety of different dips; our favorite is Jake's Eggplant Dip ($6.99), made with roasted eggplant, spices, feta cheese, and walnuts. Eaten on crisp pita, it is addictive.

Their spanakopita ($4.50, a spinach, feta, onion, and herb pie wrapped in flaky fillo pastry) is one of the best you'll eat. The saganaki ($5) is wonderful. Although made with feta instead of kasseri, you get that savory molten, golden cheese kissed with lemon, balsamic, and olive oil – perfect on pita. We tried the souvlaki plate ($11.99-13.99), and here you get a choice of pork, chicken, shrimp, or rib eye kebabs. We had one rib eye and one pork, served with orzo pasta and a Greek salad. The meats are tender and juicy. The gyro here presents the option of pork or chicken, made from real meat instead of the typical compressed logs of processed meat and lamb.

El Greco is definitely authentic Greek cuisine, prepared by true compatriots who are proud of what they produce. One bite of the moussaka should be enough to establish their credentials.

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