Central Florida’s Greeky side

2:25 PM

One of the places that we included in our “Travel Bucket List” is Greece, specifically Athens and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. And this year we are finally going to check it off!!! 

Amidst all the planning and searching for the trip of a lifetime – at least for us – we have started to crave Greek food. Reading about the freshness of the seafood, vegetables and the olive oil, has made us hungry for those dishes and we can’t wait to try them until we are in Greece… oh no, we need them now!

So we started another type of journey, finding the best Greek restaurants in Central Florida. And the results have been fantastic! However, if you think that Taverna Opa, a chain restaurant with establishments all over Florida, was our number one pick, you are totally mistaken. Yes is on our list, but definitely not number one since there are others that are better – food quality and price-.

Gyro Platter

One thing we learned, thanks to a special Greek/Dutch friend, was that if the restaurant has hummus in their appetizer list, it might not be as authentic as they sound to be. Hummus is not a Greek ‘mezze’, an appetizer… it is Mediterranean (Turkish, Lebanese, etc) but definitely not Greek. But in the good ol’ USA, hummus is found in almost every Greek restaurant. Another non-Greek item at restaurants, belly dancing… If there are belly dancers or a belly dancing show at any Greek restaurant, it is not truly Greek. There’s no belly dancing in Greece. There is music, smashing of plates and the famous  Zorba the Greek dance, but definitely not belly dancing. So you have been warned!

And what’s a true Greek mezze? Well, like we mentioned, it is a combination of appetizers – hot or cold -, similar to the Spanish tapas. They can include grilled octopus, pita bread, kalamata olives, fresh feta cheese (drizzled with olive oil and oregano), saganaki (a grilled cheese), taztziki (yogurt with mint and cucumber), melizanosalata (eggplant salad) and other meats like keftedes (lamb meatballs) or sausage.


We got hungry just by explaining that!

So here are our best finds! Hope you go on and explore your Greeky side, wherever you are!

1) The Greek Corner - When you talk about Greek food in Orlando, this restaurant is on everyone’s mind. It is small, decorated with Greek art and photos. Food is pretty authentic and good prices. Located near downtown Orlando, overlooking Lake Ivanhoe, it has a terrace that on not so hot nor cold days, is the best option to dine at. http://www.thegreekcorner.net/

2) Cypriana Restaurant - Located in Altamonte Springs, almost Casselberry, this is a family owned restaurant that is not pretentious in any way. But they do serve very good food and you can often see the ladies of the family in the kitchen whipping up the dishes while talking in Greek, and yes they are talking, not arguing as you might think due to their hand gestures and loud words. They have another location on Colonial Dr. http://www.cyprianausa.com/

3) Greek Flame Taverna - This is Greek food taken to a glamour kind of state. Located in Dr. Phillip’s Restaurant Row, this restaurant offers very good quality Greek food and it is a place to see and be seen. http://www.greekflametaverna.com/

4) Zorba’s Greek Taverna - One of the newest restaurants in the area, Zorba’s offers very good food at very good prices. Portions are big, perfect for sharing. They do have hummus and belly dancing so people might think that they are not truly Greek. But they are very good in spite of all the non-Greekness. http://zorbasgreektaverna.com/home.html

5) Taverna Opa (Pointe Orlando, Miami, etc) - This restaurant chain put Greek food in the tourist map. Let’s face it, tourist that come to Orlando or even Miami, don’t come to eat Greek food. But with their international appeal and marketing strategies, Taverna Opa is the place to be. You can have your Greek food (grilled octopus, gyros, lamb, etc), see belly dancers, dance on tables, get free shots of Ouzo (a Greek liquor), throw napkins on the air and shout Opa from the top of your lungs… or is it Hopa??? We will find out when we go to Greece, but we were already told that the only place that writes Opa without the H is here in the States… things that make you go hmmm…. http://www.tavernaoparestaurant.com/

6) Acropolys (Tampa) -This is another chain restaurant, with locations in Tampa and St Pete. Very good food with lots of entertainment options for the family. It is definitely one of our favorite stops when we go to the Tampa Bay area. http://www.acropolistaverna.com/

Of course, there are many more restaurants in Central Florida that are Greek and that serve Greek food. These are just a few ones that we know and learned to love.

If you want to feel even more Greek and if you are in Florida, you need to go to Tarpons Springs near Clearwater…. Is a little Greek town, known for their sea sponges, that has many shops and more than seven Greek restaurants. Know a little bit more about it here: http://www.spongedocks.net/default.htm

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