Epic Sandwich: Gardens of Salonica's tzatziki refreshes in the MN heat


I love Greek food. The flavors are typically exciting, taking advantage of tart citrus, fresh produce and aromatic spices. I fully realize that there is a lot to traditional Greek food beyond gyros and souvlaki, but my proximity to the Gardens of Salonica in NE Minneapolis and the awesome weather seemed to be a perfect alignment for a quick, flavorful lunch to get me through the steamy afternoon.

The Gardens of Salonica's diverse take-out menu couldn't sway me from my souvlaki craving. Shamefully, I've never enjoyed a traditional pork version, so I decided to jump on that despite a hard push from the popular broiled chicken.

All of the sandwiches here come wrapped in a pita with tomatoes, onions, parsley, tzatziki and a nice little pile of totally craveable salty Greek fries (don't forget the vinegar!). I took a few moments to admire the huge chunks of broiled pork, before I gave in and navigated a big bite of the over-stuffed sandwich (anytime you're dealing with pita and tzatziki, you're in a extra napkins situation).

The first thing I noticed was how nice the pita was - perfectly soft and pliable avoiding the cracking and dryness that can occur when you aren't dealing with the good stuff. The tomatoes and onions brought freshness to the table, but the pool of creamy tzatziki easily took over my taste buds' attention behind the powerful tang of the yogurt. Garlic was ever-present as it is in most Greek creations, and the generous amounts of parsley mixed in the tzatziki provided the largest and most welcome aromatic presence. As mentioned, the pork was plentiful, but a little tough and lacking the bold, bright and diverse flavors I would have expected from a good Greek marinade.

Sandwich rating: Good, not Great. The sandwich was big and satisfying emitting a welcome freshness on a nice hot Minnesota afternoon but the bland pork left me a bit jealous of my friend's rave-worthy gyros.

Epic Sandwich Copyright 2009 by Teddy Hobbins