One might be confused upon entering Taziki's Greek Fare, the first franchise of a Birmingham-based chain. The decor suggests a table-service-style bistro, but like a recent spate of chains to come to Central Arkansas, Taziki's fits in the fast-casual category. There's no table service; orders are placed in the back, right along an open kitchen. The staff was courteous, trying to make a good impression.
We started with an appetizer, pita chips with Greek dips ($5.50) — taziki sauce (a light, cucumber-based yogurt dip) and hummus. The taziki sauce was excellent, not too heavy and the tiniest bit sweet. The hummus was great, too, (extra lemony), and the pita chips lightly toasted.
The menu was so wide-ranging — from pita wraps and salads to “Greek Feasts,” all for very reasonable prices ($5.95-$9.25) — it was difficult to decide what to have for dinner.
One of our companions, looking for a lamb-less dish, went the vegetarian route, starting with the Greek salad pita. We never stole a bite, but she had only good things to say. We had to go with the classic gyro to compare it with others we've had in the past. We weren't disappointed: It was one of the best we've ever had. The warm pita bread was soft and thick, but not too much. The tender, juicy lamb came from a grill rather than a spit.
Sandwiches and pitas come with a choice of tomato-cucumber salad, roasted new potatoes, basmati rice, pasta salad or fresh fruit. Our vegetarian friend went with the tomato-cucumber salad, which was tasty, but not quite as good as the pasta salad, which was cool, well-spiced, and topped with chunks of feta cheese.
Our companions “Greek Feasts,” and were so complimentary we almost regretted our settling for the gyro. They come with the choice of sides mentioned above, a traditional Greek salad and a choice of grilled chicken breast, sliced roasted leg of lamb, grilled tiger shrimp or marinated roasted pork loin. The feast menu items fit on one plate, but there's a surprising amount of food there.
We were stuffed, but you can't go to a Greek restaurant and not have baklava. The other dessert option is chocolate cake, and since every-one loves cake, we decided to give it a shot as well. The baklava was good, but not exceptional. The crust was nice and flaky and there was lots of cinnamon, which we like. The chocolate cake was nothing to write home about, but fine if you really need chocolate cake.
Overall we were impressed. The dining area is nice, the staff was friendly and the food was better than expected for the prices. The tab for our foursome, which included a couple of adult beverages, came to somewhere around $55, before tip. In these trying times, that's something to celebrate.
Taziki's Greek Fare
8200 Cantrell Road
Cantrell Heights Shopping Center
Go ahead and get in line. Grab an app of pita chips and dip and a couple of drinks. Take your time to go over the menu — there's a lot of good stuff on there.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Taziki's has daily lunch specials. Beer and wine available, no liquor. Credit cards accepted.