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The Hungry Greek Was Worth the Drive

By: Mike Bonfanti
By: Mike Bonfanti

Behind a glass partition workers clad in bright blue shirts carved large slabs of meat and assembled various Greek dishes.

After four hours in a car my stomach told me it was time to fuel up.  I pulled off I-75 at the Wesley Chapel exit and began driving in the general direction of my destination.  It was my first time in this area and I had no idea where to stop for lunch.  While sitting at a stop light and browsing through the restaurants in the area I decided to try the Hungry Greek.

The restaurant is located at 2653 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard just north of the Shops at Wiregrass in a small strip mall. I carefully drove around the perimeter until I found the Hungry Greek and pulled into a parking spot.  The building was a the color of buckskin with decorative stone corners.  Simple blue letters marked the restaurants’ location.  A black awning supported by simple while columns covered several aluminum tables.  I walked towards the front door hoping I had made a wise decision.

Opening the front plate glass door I was immediately greeted by a friendly face and directed towards the end of the counter to place my order.  A dessert case anchored the end closest to the door.  Behind a glass partition workers clad in bright blue shirts carved large slabs of meat and assembled various Greek dishes.  Fake plastic grapes hung above my head along the top edge of the counter.   The interior of the restaurant was painted a light tan with a band of deep gold circling the ceiling just below the crown molding.  Dishes and painting with various Greek scenes and small vases decorated the walls.  Light wood colored tables surrounded by cherry stained chairs provided the seating.

Looking over the menu I knew I wanted a gyro.  I also decided to add a Greek salad for $1.99 and a soda.  After paying the cashier I was given a number and found a table towards the front of the restaurant.  Within minutes my meal arrived.  I forgot to grab a fork but the guy who brought my plate immediately noticed and said he would grab one for me.  He reappeared a moment later with one and told me to enjoy my meal.

The gyro and Greek salad were served on a simple foam plate.  The salad consisted of lettuce; tomatoes; kalamata olives; cucumbers; green pepper slices; a pepperoncini; feta cheese; and a slice of cooked beet.  I took my fork and dug in.  The dressing was light and flavorful.  The vegetables were fresh.  I stuck my fork in a second time and felt something mushy underneath the vegetables.  Pushing back the lettuce I discovered a base layer of potato salad.  I had never had a Greek salad with potato salad on the bottom, and chalked it up as another of Tampa’s culinary twist.

With my quota of vegetables met I turned my attention to the gyro.  The pita was thin and full of sliced meat, tomatoes and red onions.  These in turn were covered with tzatziki sauce.  I picked up the gyro and immediately noticed its heft.  This was not a North Florida gyro with a few slices of meat, but one that reminded of the gyros of my youth in New England.  The pita was slightly warm. I took a bite and was hit with the rich flavor of the meat and the creaminess of the tzatziki sauce. As I continued to mow my way through the gyro a moment of panic set in as I began to get full.  Thankfully, I was able to find some extra room to put the rest of the delicious gyro meat.

Slipping into a gyro coma the manager stopped by my table.  I told him their gyro was one of the best I had eaten in Florida.  He remarked the meat was shipped down to their two stores from Chicago.  You could tell in the quality and taste of the meat, and I told him they needed to open a store up in Tallahassee.  The Hungry Greek can be contacted at (813) 345-8526 and found online at www.thehungrygreek.com, on Facebook, and @HungryGreek on Twitter.

Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Atmosphere: B+
Taste: A
Presentation: B+
Service: A
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

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