Saturday, July 24, 2021

Taking a healthy bite of Greece at The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill

Greek food culture is no longer just about great traditional cuisine, but increasingly a hotbed of popular dishes and specialized menus making the flavors of this far-off country even more accessible to us here in the Palm Beaches.

When you live in a coastal city like ours, you are reminded every day of the natural goodness that comes from the land and sea. What to eat? Where to go? That’s the thing fixed on our minds most days, as we discuss and argue over the many food choices in town.

Lucky for us, many trends we’ve seen the last few years seem to only be getting bigger: Greek food is still one of the hottest topics among foodies in South Florida, and the reason is simple. The year’s biggest trend is food that brings comfort, wellbeing, and community. So, who’s game for some καλό φαγητό?

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Plutarch, a Greek historian said, “We do not sit at the table to eat. . . but to eat together.” And a true snapshot of that is the movie  My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what to expect from a Greek family feast: lots of warm pita bread, feta cheese, excellent meat, and extra virgin olive oil all around—the tasty stuff that you’ll find at The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill.

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill

Founded in 2011 by two third-generation culinary trained restaurateurs Nick A. Della Penna and Trent Jones, the restaurant franchise originally debuted in Henderson, Nevada. It wasn’t long before they partnered with Ray Titus of United Franchise Group, and together they quickly grew the franchise with over 130 locations across the country.

From the team behind the new Greek sensation, comes their latest outpost: The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill in West Palm Beach, a single-story white and blue Corinthian-like distinctive structure, which portrays one of the main features of ancient towns and cities on the Greek mainland, the Aegean Islands, and throughout the Greek colonies in Asia Minor [Turkey], Sicily and Italy, during the 900-27 BCE.

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Food is family-oriented in Greece, as it is at The Great Greek. Here you’ll find an assortment of traditional Greek dishes for the whole family starting with their Tzatziki sauce, a very popular appetizer dip, consisting of Greek yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and . . . you guessed it, extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Something to note: Greek yogurt is creamier and thicker than regular yogurt because it’s been strained to remove the liquid whey.

If you’re not a fan of Tzatziki, try their Hummus—made from cooked, mashed chickpeas. It has been eaten for thousands of years—even ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates wrote about the benefits of hummus, which includes garlic, salt, lemon, olive oil, and tahini. Well known in various parts of the Mediterranean, hummus has become quite popular around the globe, most especially in South Florida’s bars and grills.

The beauty of these two dips is that you can scoop them up with some flatbread like pita or you can have them as a companion food that’s been grilled or even with falafel, which is made of a combination of garbanzo beans, herbs, and spices. Health-wise, tzatziki contains only 54 calories per 45-gram serving; it also comes with only 8 grams of carbohydrates and a small amount of sodium. Which to Pick? Both are delicious if you ask me. But if you make your determination based on health concerns, then hummus is clearly the less healthy dip.

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill
Australian Lamb Souvlaki

Some other popular items to consider at The Great Greek include their classic Greek salads and the various assortment of Souvlaki. The salads are hearty and delicious on their own or with some added items, such as a shrimp or lamb skewer, which is nicely topped with their homemade vinaigrette, made fresh daily in their kitchen. Souvlaki is one of the most well-known Greek foods found in almost every Greek restaurant around the world, which consists of small, grilled pieces of meat on a skewer. At the Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, Souvlaki is made from chicken, lamb, or beef, served with vegetables like a kabob.

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill
Salad Wrap with Gyro Meat

Perhaps the highest-calorie food on their menu is the Gyro. But, can you avoid it? That’s the real question. You simply can’t visit a Greek restaurant without trying their gyros. These yummy Mediterranean delights are spiced just right. Flaky thin juicy slices of roasted lamb, beef or chicken, gyros are the most popular Greek food in America. What’s not to love about tender meat served in a warm, soft pita along with creamy tzatziki and some veggies? Positively addictive. And, honestly, the gyros here are better than the ones sold in other restaurants. Like, 100 times better! No exaggeration. They’re so darn tasty.

If you’re looking to indulge yourself, try feasting on their Feta Fries. Wicked good. But whatever you do, don’t skip dessert. Ice cream is a big part of the Greek summertime culture, and that also holds true for the Great Greek family. Their Baklava Ice cream made of crushed Baklava with vanilla ice cream topped with honey is νόστιμο! Like most desserts, this can be shared, but you won’t want to. It’s that good.

Putting dessert aside, the traditional Greek diet is both flavorful and healthy. And what’s more, it’s rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also been linked to many favorable health outcomes. Their food, as The Great Greek presents, is characterized as consisting of more olive oil, legumes, vegetables, fruit, unrefined grains and lamb, fish, chicken, and lean beef—and here’s all served fresh, right off the grill.

Well worth a repeated visit, for the gyros and ice cream alone.

If you plan to visit, try their West Palm Beach location at 7038 Okeechobee Blvd., 3341, or search for other locations at The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill website.

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