The Short Course
To Avoid a Wait: Visit during an off-peak time or order takeout or delivery.
Noise Level: Average.
Bathroom Amenities: Clean but no changing table.
High Chairs: Yes.
Kids Menu: Yes.
Anything Healthy for Kids: Yes.
Food Allergy Concerns: Speak with your server about specific allergy concerns.
With summer weather comes one of my favorite activities–outdoor dining. Thankfully, Findlay offers numerous lovely patios for dining al fresco, whether it’s a quick lunch, a lingering dinner with friends, or a late night glass of wine. Plus, outdoor dining removes a little pressure for parents to rein in their children’s noise and activity. One beautiful day, we decided to check out The Greek Garden – a downtown establishment specializing in Greek and Mediterranean dishes.
It was a cheerful Friday afternoon when the five of us strolled past several outdoor tables and into the charming restaurant. Traditional columns and clusters of grapes infuse the space with a Grecian feel. The deep and narrow downtown building makes The Greek Garden cozy and warm. Just inside the door, a space is reserved for the musicians to serenade weekend guests. Wooden benches run the length of both walls with tables and chairs accompanying them. A few free-standing tables fill the middle of the space in front of an open kitchen. Beyond the kitchen is a back room used for events and meetings. We passed through the center of the restaurant and outside into the spacious alley. Mixed tables dotted the space along with a fire pit and several planters. Strings of lights, running between the buildings, create warmth and charm while the two tall buildings lining the alley kept the space shady and cool. The tables along Main Street offer prime people watching for smaller groups.
Where everything becomes Greek
As we settled around a huge round table, our server greeted us and passed out menus, crayons and coloring pages for the kids. It was Jeremy, my husband’s birthday, so we indulged glasses of sangria – mixed berry for him and traditional red for me. Opening the menu, I appreciated the Greek references that filled the pages, even for dishes that aren’t actually Greek – like Hercules Hamburger or Triton’s Tuna Melt. The descriptions of all the meals were clever and entertaining, which made reading the menu quite fun. With a wide variety of Greek dishes combined with an impressive array of familiar favorites, The Greek Garden aims to please any appetite. Similarly, the kids’ menu included classic kid food like grilled cheese and chicken tenders plus one little gem – a Kids’ Greek Plate. With pita, feta, tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes and either gyro meat or chicken, this dish is ideal for introducing little appetites to Greek flavors.
Traditional apps (the pre-digital kind)
To sample the classics, we chose several appetizers: saganaki, spanakopita, and hummus with pita. All three came out quickly (hooray!) although the kids were disappointed that since we were sitting outside, the saganaki couldn’t be flamed. Nevertheless, the ooey, gooey cheese was a hit with everyone. Mae, our 5-year-old, particularly enjoyed the “crispy bits.” Our other daughter, 8 year old Josephine, loved the spanakopita – a savory pie with flaky filo dough filled with spinach and cheese. I snagged a few bites and delighted in the impressive layers of pastry. The hummus was served beautifully with diced onions, a sprinkling of seasoning and surrounded by warm pita. Both Jeremy and I enjoyed the added flavor and crunch provided by the fresh onions. The kids preferred the saganaki and spanakopita. And we all loved the pita – soft and warm with crisped edges. (Order extra pita – you won’t be sorry!)
A perfect balance of flavors and textures
After enjoying the appetizers, our meals arrived: traditional gyros for Jeremy, Joey, and Leland, age 9, plus the Kids’ Greek Plate for Mae, and a chicken shawarma for me. Each dish was arranged beautifully with huge sides of piping hot fries. Having grown up on Long Island and lived in Chicago, Jeremy has high gyros standards. The generously-sized sandwich featured thinly-shaved and perfectly-seasoned gyro meat wrapped in warm, fluffy pita with tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. Paired with tzatziki sauce – a cool, cucumber, yogurt-based sauce – the sandwich is impressive. The tzatziki and pita perfectly balanced the blend of tangy and salty flavors in the meat and onions. Similarly, my chicken shawarma featured large cuts of juicy grilled chicken wrapped in a pita with hummus and pickles. The sour pickles offered a bright burst of flavor and subtle texture to the sandwich. Mae’s introduction to Greek food proved successful as she eagerly ate pita dipped in tzatziki, cucumbers, and tomatoes while sampling small bites of feta cheese and gyro meat (though Joey swooped in to nibble on the feta, too).
A favored gathering spot
As we noshed on our sandwiches and near-endless fries, we observed our surroundings–friends chatting over lunch and cocktails, coworkers grabbing a quick meal and some fresh air, and more than one takeout order leaving the restaurant. For a small town, Findlay offers quite a variety of cuisines, and The Greek Garden is one of the oldest ethnic places, after spending decades downtown. Its prime location is a nod to its excellent food and friendly service. Before we left, and despite feeling quite full, I remembered that flaky pastry on the spanakopita and eyed the two varieties of baklava (traditional and chocolate). But when Jeremy, our resident super-sweet tooth and birthday boy, declined dessert, it was clear that a return trip would be needed to sample that Greek delicacy.
321 S. Main St., Findlay
419-422-0808 | www.thegreekgarden.com
“The Greek Garden” on Facebook
Open Monday-Thursday: 11am-8pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am-9pm