As the Scandinavian influence wanes in Ballard, what will take over. Hopefully something besides the current pizza epidemic. Coming from Chicago, there are a few ethnic foods I find depressingly underrepresented in Seattle, Greek food chief and foremost among them. So it's exciting to have not one but two new Greek places in the same hood (See Kauffman's review of Plaka Estiatorio in this week's issue.)
The Dotis family has been serving pizza and Italian food to Ballard for years, recently on 24th Avenue N.W. and just recently opened Taki's Mad Greek in Crown Hill, which sits in the old Scandinavian Specialties spot (now in a bigger location down the street), between a Scandinavian bakery and The Tweetery.When I walked in to Taki's the first time, I immediately choked up. I hadn't even had the food yet, but I recognized the touchstones. It was like being transported to my first trip to Greektown as a little girl with my grandpa. I involuntarily salivated at the prospect of flaming cheese and succulent meats. Elias Dotis (son of Demetrios, aka Taki), who helps runs the restaurant says, "We wanted to finally do true Greek food, not something that was a mix of Mediterranean, and we make everything fresh in house." Saganaki? Check, and how. Tarama (Greek caviar)? Check. My avgolemomo soup? Double check, with a sigh. I'm stuck on the lamb souvlaki as far as entrees go, but I'll move on eventually to try other things. Eventually.
Elias showed me around and talked me through some of the memorabilia on the wall, including his father's first Bouzouki album (the Greek version of a mandolin) along with an album recorded in Hawaii, and a shot of his dad playing the Bouzouki Jimmie Hendrix style, behind and above his head. The restaurant has live Greek music every Saturday night, complete with belly dancing. "You should see the place when we get some Greeks in here, it goes wild," he says. Stop it, Elias, you're gonna make me cry.
Ballard, you lucky bastards. Drop the za and chianti for a night and make a trip for some Retsina and souvlaki.
8539 15th Ave N.W., 297-9200
Mon-Fri 11:00am-9:00pm, Sat 11:00am-12:00midnight