Authentic Mediterranean

Hungry Greek a cultural experience


Photography by Mara Kuhn

7:20 p.m. … Wishing for a bowl of Pappa’s Three Way Chili.

Opa! I haven’t previously written about Greek cuisine, as we haven’t had Greek restaurants within community in some time. Greek food is one of my favorites to cook and eat. I’ve had numerous Greek dinner parties and have gained inspiration from Greek communities in New York and Chicago, not to mention plenty of influence from Greek friends. I think if you get to know Greek food, it will quickly become one of your favorites, too!

Greek cuisine is considered Mediterranean. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of olive oil, lemon juice, vegetables, herbs, grains and bread, wine and various meats, including lamb and poultry. Also important are olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini and yogurt. Greek desserts are characterized by the dominant use of nuts and honey, and some dishes use phyllo pastry. Dips, such as hummus, are served with pita bread. The first cookbook in history (320 B.C.) was Greek. You would expect Greek food in America to be healthy, as it’s cooked without greece (I will never APOLLOgize for Greek puns).

The Hungry Greek is a new restaurant in Hot Springs serving some excellent Greek dishes. While The Hungry Greek is a casual spot, much of the food is quite authentic. This establishment has just three other locations, located in Florida, the founder being from Greece, then Cyprus. There is counter service for ordering and your food will be quickly brought to your table. The facility, located in Central City, is impeccably clean and fresh.flavor2

Salads are very popular in Greece, and at The Hungry Greek this is no exception. Hungry Greek’s version has crisp lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, beets, pepperoncinis, green peppers, potato salad and feta cheese. A similar version is the Horiatiki “Village” Salad. This Village Salad has all of the above, except lettuce. You can have chicken, salmon or gyro added to any salad. Avgolemono Soup is a staple in Greece. This lemon-rice chicken soup is outstanding! I like a bit of extra lemon in mine, easily squeezed to taste.

Gyro (pronounced yee-row) is a popular Greek meat mixture. This is a combination of lamb and beef that is cooked on a large rotisserie. The meat is thinly sliced and added to wraps, pita bread or even salads. The Gyro Pita is a great sandwich-like start to enjoying Greek cuisine, topped with tomato, onion and tzatziki. Tzatziki is a yogurt-based sauce with cucumber, mint, garlic and other herbs. It is delicious. Other pita-based options include the Falafel Pita. Falafel is considered Middle Eastern, but is popular in Cyprus, Hungry Greek’s founder’s home. A yummy, healthy protein, I eat falafel at home almost weekly. These little balls are made with chickpeas, onion, parsley and spices. HG also has a Chicken Pita, a Veggie Pita and my favorite: The Hungry Pita. This pita includes hummus along with the other accouterments.flavor3

The entrees are very interesting at The Hungry Greek! The dolmades are very tasty. Most of the dolmades I’ve had have been served cold, as an appetizer. These are warm, tender grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, tomatoes and Greek herbs. Dolmades have lots of flavor and are very authentic. The Spinach Pie (spanakopita) is also scrumptious. Spinach Pie is spinach and feta cheese (I have a fetash for this cheese) cooked with Greek herbs and wrapped in phyllo dough. The flaky phyllo is a perfect balance with the feta and spinach. I also like the Baked Pastitsio. Pastitsio is a unique Greek dish that is made with pasta, ground beef, Romano cheese and a nice sauce. This also has a bit of nutmeg and is a nice option. I felt that the Chicken Souvlakia was a bit dry, but it may have just been a bad day. All entrees are served with the Avgolemono Soup or a Greek Salad and pita bread.

Try a Baklava or a Greek Rice Pudding (rizagalo) for dessert. Baklava is famous with phyllo, honey and nuts. HG’s version is very good, but it’s all Greek to me.

This location of The Hungry Greek is locally owned by Dale Suezaki and family. They have
a very limited wine and beer offering. The atmosphere is fun, with plenty of staff. Tips are welcome, and you’ll get a hearty “OPA!” for your efforts. I hope to see you there!

There have been a number of new restaurants opening in Hot Springs. Taste of India, Next Level Kitchen, The Dugout, Mardi Gras, Café Alexander, The Asian Café, just to name a few. A lot going on in Spa City restaurants. Dine out often!

8:45 p.m. … Found a batch in the freezer … YUM! (Thank goodness for microwaves.)

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