Greek Café6405 S. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89511
I don’t know a single restaurant owner averse to making a little money. However, so many of them put all their eggs in one basket and stick mostly to food. The owner of the Greek Café on South Virginia Street wants to make some money. He told me so more than once when I visited one recent afternoon with my wife, Kat. To do so he sells a variety of things: from gyros and cable television to artwork, artificial plants and books.
In his own words, “I sell everything. If Walmart can do it, why can’t I?” Well, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Greek Café has chosen a profit-generating master to idolize.
Combine his emulation of Wal-Mart with the general atmosphere of the place, and I didn’t have high expectations. The Greek Café felt a little cluttered, mismatched, and in need of a woman’s touch. Frankly, the floral prints adorning the walls are bad, a fresh coat of paint wouldn’t be uncalled for, and the messy desk in the corner should be out of sight. Luckily, the most prominent decoration in the place, the owner himself, was the best. He was gruffly charming with quirky one-liners like “Here’s your water with Greek ice.”
Kat ordered the chicken kabab with pita and a Greek salad ($8.95) and I ordered the spicy gyro value meal ($6.99), which comes with French fries and a small drink. When the meals arrived I was finally able to laugh about everything leading up to that point. Because if you place more stock in good food and a colorful staff than a coherent decoration strategy and business plan, you’ll enjoy the Greek Café.
Kat’s Greek salad was a massive bed of crisp lettuce absolutely covered in cubed feta, black olives and red onion with some tomato and cucumber. The dressing was a simple mix of olive oil and vinegar. The chicken, bell pepper and red onion were beautifully grilled and equally as delectable. Kat also got two pieces of pita and a side of tzatziki, a garnish consisting largely of yogurt and diced cucumbers with a mellow flavor that cut the bite of the feta.
My spicy gyro consisted of thin slices of a ground lamb and beef mixture, which was seasoned and wrapped in a pillowy pita bread along with red onion, cucumber, tomato and tzatziki sauce. While the plate was decidedly not spicy, the combination of salty meat, crunchy veggies, smooth tzatziki and fresh pita all made for a flavorful wrap. Sadly, my French fries were neither warm nor crispy and went uneaten. However, all plates come with a bright red pickled cherry pepper, which I’ve never had before and will now be substituting everywhere I once used pepperoncinis. They have a similar briny flavor but are a little sweeter and have a much better texture.
Greek Café also serves cheese steak sandwiches ($5.99 small and $6.99 large). Two ladies received their cheese steak sandwiches as we were leaving, and the women looked pretty happy, albeit struggling, to get a good grip on that meat-and-cheese-stuffed affair.
The Greek Café is far from the classiest place I’ve eaten, but it’s a work in process. The owner claims he’s about to change a whole lot, particularly the artwork. I wish him the best of luck. He’s a nice guy, and I’d still buy his food even if he sold it from a pushcart on Fourth Street if it tasted as good and he kept me as entertained as he did.