Even though Santa Cruz has an annual Greek festival and a Greek church in downtown, I didn't think Greek food in town would be good til a co-worker recommended Vasili's on the westside. Located on the corner of Mission and Trescony, it's just around the corner from Donnelly's Chocolates and across the street from Cafe Brasil. Very conveniently located right off the Hwy 1 route through town. Parking in that area isn't the best, so both times we've parked across the street in the spacious McDonald's lot and scurried over.
First time Y and I visited for lunch and second time for dinner. The food and service were consistently good. A great neighborhood vibe where the staff aim to please and customers leave full and happy w/ leftovers in tow since portions are large. Photos of our modest lunch linked below.
The roasted lamb that comes w/ the souvlaki sandwich for lunch or dinner plate is wonderful...large meaty chunks that are tender and succulent w/ a zesty marinade and a pleasantly gamey accent. Cooked perfectly. Also had the meatballs (keftethakia) which had a smooth fine texture and nice flavor.
The salads are very fresh and chunky and have a wonderful tang from the creamy feta w/ a bitterness from good kalamata olives. Good house dressing. I really love the pita bread here. Plush but not too doughy or leaden w/ a hint of olive oil and kiss of heat from the griddle; they come to the table warm. Their fries are some of the best in SC. Blistering crispy on outside and fluffy goodness inside. If you don't care for their oregano or garlic seasonings, request them plain. Tzaziki sauce has a garlic punch that a few Altoids couldn't extinguish.
Major downside was the sides that come w/ the dinner plates. While the house salad is fresh and large, the rice and veggies were pretty pathetic. Rice was watery and flat in flavor, and veggies were previously frozen trio of carrots, green beans, corn in a mediocre tomato sauce. Rest of meal was very good though. Given the sad dinner sides, I think the best bang for my buck is lunch when there are a few specials, lower prices but still generous portions, and I can avoid the mediocre sides. Dolmathes weren't great either since they're not housemade.
I don't know lots about Greek food, but the food here seems fairly authentic and not like it's holding back for SC hippie palates. Bring on the meat and garlic! I look forward to trying their rendition of moussaka and pastitsio.
Other opinions or recs here? How's the falafel place next door? Are they owned by the same people?
Vasili's Greek Taverna
1501-A Mission St.
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