If I’m ever on death row and get my choice of last meal, I’m going to ask for a juicy, onion-y gyro with a huge piece of baklava dripping with honey.
And maybe some hand wipes.
At any rate, Papouli’s Mediterranean Cafe and Market is my favorite choice for both Greek specialties and several other dishes.
Someone at Papouli’s knows about setting a mood with music. Something about hearing that twangy bouzouki, a musical instrument popular in Greece, and tambourine gets my mouth ready for spanakopita (spinach and feta layered in phyllo pastry), hummus and tzatziki.
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I don’t mind ordering at the counter and refilling my own drink — it’s friendly, quick and efficient. Your order is brought to you, which is much more civilized than having your name yelled out to come get it.
Their new dishware is noticeably nicer as well. Other than my favorites I’ve already mentioned, Papouli’s has many other family recipes to be proud of.
A great introduction to Greek food is the pastitsio, their version of lasagna made with macaroni noodles. If you want something gluten-free, try the chicken riganato, a roasted half chicken marinated in lemon, olive oil and herbs for $10.99.
If you want to try a bunch of food, the Tour of Greece for $11.49 includes spanakopita, pastitsio, souvlaki and tzatziki, which is a cucumber yogurt dip served with warm, soft pita.
Almost everything here is healthy, too. The pita wraps come with rice or fries, but you can substitute soup or salad to keep it good for you.
Choose from loukaniko (pork sausage seasoned with orange and fennel), souvlaki (marinated chicken with a kick of zhug), lamb and tzatziki or falafel (fried chickpea patties). Pita wrap platters range from $7.99 to $9.99
On top of all this deliciousness, there’s an entire display case of Greek baked goodies. My favorites are the walnut baklava, the kourabiethes (butter cookie twists), and the almond crescents, but feel free to try the floyeres with chocolate drizzle and the walnut cake drenched in honey lemon syrup.
Regardless of what you choose, you will leave happy and full, tapping your toes to the music.
Papouli’s is a Middle Georgia treasure.
Restaurant: Papouli’s Mediterranean Cafe and Market
Address: 121 Tom Hill Sr. Blvd., Macon
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Payment: Credit card, cash
Kids menu: Yes
Noise level: Low
Health rating: 86
Delivery service: ChowNow
Price range: $8.49-$12.99
Rating: 3.5 stars