Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tarpon Springs, FL

If you're in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and are in the mood for Greek food: go to Tarpon Springs. Apparently they migrated there from Greece a while ago and settled into this town where they dive for sponges. The entire town is devoted to these natural sponges that they sell in touristy shops alongside Greek restaurants.

Sponge Diver Statue in Tarpon Springs, FL
Since every restaurant had the same menu and they were all semi-overpriced we decided on the larger restaurant called Hellas with a big menu and some cheap plates. The Greek woman who sat us seemed to own the place and was really funny when my dad motioned for her to go in front of him (we were seated on a platformed area) and she said "oh, no, no, no. Business first. Always business." (Or something to that extent). It was really cute.

They served this cheese as an appetizer that everyone seemed to be ordering (and I will definitely order if ever given the opportunity again). After the cheese was brought to the table the waiter lit it on fire and everyone yelled "OPA!" (like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding). It was quite a spectacle. What a great idea for a party appetizer.

We were having dinner only a few hours later but my husband, dad, and I were hungry so my dad and I split a chicken souvlaki (chicken, tzatiki, onions, and tomato in a pita-like bread) and a Greek salad. The salad was really good but kind of strange. In the center of the salad, buried beneath the lettuce, was a mound of potato salad. It was actually quite good even though I don't normally like mixing my salads quite so much. Everything was fairly affordable, authentic, and tasty.

I would have loved to have eaten dessert there as they had an entire bakery attached to the restaurant (and I love me some baklava!) but we were stuffed.

All in all I would definitely recommend this place to any local or traveller heading to Tampa.

Here's an amusing picture of the entrance to the bakery from the restaurant. It says Bakery Restrooms. Not the best place to put both signs.

Hellas Bakery Hellas Restaurant
785 Dodecanese Blvd
Tarpon Springs, FL
(727) 943-2400


Kirk said...

Hi Kady - So that flaming cheese, was it saganaki - good stuff! Loved the bathroom sign.

Calli said...

Saganaki! I agree, it's quite a fun appetizer, and quite yummy too. I haven't had it in ages. Hmm... I need to look for a good Greek place around here.