When you’ve got a hankering for Hellenic fare, head up to the far reaches of Pinellas County to the famously touristy sponge docks area of Tarpon Springs. The Greek restaurant scene on and around Dodecanese Boulevard in Tarpon Springs is what Little Italy and Chinatown are to Manhanttan, with as close to traditional Greek fare as you’re going to find in the states, thanks to the generations of folks in the area with roots in the old country keeping their traditions alive.
Costas. 521 Athens St., Tarpon Springs, 727-938-6890. costascuisine.com. Just a few blocks from the Sponge Docks (and the crowds), Costas offers a large menu of traditional Greek dishes and even bigger portions. Great lunch deals, plus two-for-one drafts and sangria all day, and free all-day parking for patrons.
Hellas. 785 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs, 727-943-2400, hellas-restaurant.com. One of the larger Greek eateries in the area, this family-owned eatery — serving everything from lamb shish kebabs to skordalia — has been going strong for over 40 years. Its bakery is full of mouthwatering Greek sweets to enjoy there or to-go. Located directly across from the Sponge Docks.
Mr. Souvlaki. 802 N Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs, 727-937-2795. Offering a short menu of traditional Greek menu items, but known for its original Greek Chow Mein dish made up of rice pilaf, veggies, feta and your choice of meat.
Mykonos. 628 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs; 727-934-4306. Located on the main drag near the Sponge Docks, this cozy little spot serves traditional Greek dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Known for homestyle fare, large portions and low prices, Mykonos also serves up a mean lamb shank. Tip: When ordering the squid or octopus, be warned — it’s served whole.
The Original Mama Maria’s. 503 N Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs, 727-934-5678, theoriginalmamamarias.com. Not to be confused with the other Mama’s restaurant in Tarpon, this one still has its namesake Greek mama back in the kitchen cooking up authentic homestyle Greco fare. Pastitso, mousaka, keftedes, octopus and more.
Parthenonas Restaurant and Bakery. 751 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs. 727-938-7709. Another large, popular Greek dining spot on Dodecanese, Parthenonas classes up the atmosphere a bit with waiters in ties and glitzy interior accents.
Plaka. 769 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs, 727-934-4752, plakatarponsprings.com. Huge gyros are this casual Greek eatery's claim to fame, sliced to order from the house-made gyro spits. Get everything from spanakopita and souvlaki to stir fry and smelt here.
Yianni’s Cafe and Grill. 512 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, 727-939-1382, yiannisgreekcuisine.com. The newest project by the owners of Costas, Yianni’s has a more modern, “Euro-style” take on Greek cuisine, serving traditional favorites and plenty of fresh seafood dishes. The complimentary baklava and draft beer served with every entree can’t be beat!
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