Now, with Akropolis Greek Cuisine in town, authentic Greek food is as close as Merrillville, Ind. And I do mean authentic!
This bright, blue-and-white restaurant on U.S. 30 was actually a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise at one point. What a transformation -- it's spotless and the walls are awash with Greek paintings, photographs and tchotchkes.
I love Greek food and consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur so Akropolis really had to deliver and it did. Typically, I steer clear of combination plates, but I wanted to taste a lot of what was on the menu in one visit. This turned out to be a great choice. But I get ahead of myself.
Artisan bread and REAL butter are complimentary and a choice of avgolemono soup or soup of the day (split pea, in my case) are included with dinner. The split pea was thick and rich but a little too acidic for my taste.
An appetizer of saganaki / flaming cheese ($6.99) is delivered to the table with all the flourish you'd find in Greece and an "Opa!" to boot. The large portion was excellent. I could have made a meal out of this alone and it might be a good choice for a vegetarian, although there are other options on the menu for non-meat eaters.
So the combination plate ($13.99) overflowed with simply excellent mousaka (eggplant lasagna), spanakopita (spinach pie), pastichio (Greek macaroni with meat sauce), gyros meat with tsatziki sauce, and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Another plate featured delicious golden rice pilaf, a Greek potato and Greek green beans. Everything was prepared perfectly and in such a quantity, I'll be eating Greek at home for a couple of days.
Barbecue lamb is served on Saturdays and Sundays only, but you can satisfy yourself with roast leg of lamb any day of the week. Other real Greek treats include charbroiled or cold octopus, loukaniko sausage, horta (boiled dandelions), souvlaki (kebabs), keftedes (Greek meatballs), gigantes tou fournou (baked giant beans in tomato sauce), kalamari, taramosalata (fish roe spread), skordialia (garlic spread), to name a few.
If fresh seafood is your thing, check out the bakaliaros (fried cod), shrimp tourkolimano, and marides (fried smelts). There is a nice salad selection and American favorites like barbecue ribs and burgers.
Don't skip dessert (baklava, galatobureko, kataifi, cakes and tortes, loukoumades on Saturdays and Sundays, and seldom-seen Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts and an authentic Greek coffee. In addition to dine-in desserts, there is a large selection of cookies, breads and other desserts from the bakery.
Amenities include daily specials, coupons on the website, delivery 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, carryout, catering, party trays and a large parking lot. Spread the word -- Akropolis Greek Cuisine in Merrillville, Ind., gives you bang for your buck!
Akropolis Greek Cuisine
2060 W. 81st Avenue, Merrllville, IN 46410 (a block or so east of Taft Street on the north side of U.S. 30)
Open daily at 11 a.m.