23 October, 2020, 01:14

Your Guide to 9 Tasty Greek Restaurants in Tucson

Family recipes, crowd-pleasers & late night spots.

Fun fact: not all the Greek spots in Tucson are frat houses.

We have a selection of Greek eateries, as well. Each offers predictable staples representative of the country, but each chef’s interpretation of the standards is personal. Tucson has an active Greek community as evidenced by the annual Greek Festival each September, which has celebrated all things Hellenic for the last 45 years now.

But when you’re on the quest for healthier food that accommodates most diets, you don’t have to wait for autumn – you can go “Greek” any day of the week.

Athens on 4th Avenue

500 N. 4th Ave.
Pastitsio at Athens on 4th Avenue (Credit: Gloria Knott)

Pastitsio at Athens on 4th Avenue (Credit: Gloria Knott)

A classy sit-down on the Avenue.

Greek-born chef and owner Andreas Delfakis opened Athens on 4th Avenue in 1993 after having lived and cooked all over the world.

He serves delicacies you can’t find elsewhere in Southern Arizona, such as his Kakavia (seafood stew) and Gleekathakia (sweetbreads), and a list of Greek wines exciting enough to make Dionysus—the Greek God of Wine, himself—dance the sirtaki.

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The standard menu items are craveable, too.

Try the Pikilia combo of dolmathes, kefalotiri cheese, feta, and more for quick immersion. This mainstay isn’t a place to get French fries on the side; in fact, that’s not an option. Instead, select the softly baked potatoes, cut into wedges.

Foodie Tip:

There’s parking behind the building and it’s on the streetcar line.

Operating hours are from 4 – 9 p.m. on Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

For more information, visit athenson4thave.com.

Fronimo’s Greek Cafe

3242 E. Speedway Blvd.
Fronimo's Greek Cafe

Photo courtesy of Fronimo’s Greek Cafe on Facebook

If you need a quick education about Greek history and geography, take a gander at the detailed murals on Fromino’s walls.

Cretan George and Utah-born, army chef Tracy Fronimakas opened the restaurant in 1995. The couple is the real deal, having operated a successful cafe in Crete before moving to Tucson to start Fromino’s.

The menu intersperses U.S. favorites like burgers, tuna melts, and fries with dishes like Soulvaki and Athenian Chicken. The Dolmades are where it’s at for appetizers, too. This is probably the only place in town where you can sit down to a traditional Rizogalo (rice pudding dessert)—made in-house like everything else—and strong Greek Coffee or Mythos beer.

Foodie tip:

It’s located across from The Loft Cinema so make reservations on busier nights.

Operation hours are 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily.

For more information, visit fronimos.com.

Greek House

1710 E. Speedway Blvd.
Helio Pita at Greek House

Helio Pita at Greek House (Photo courtesy of Greek House on Facebook)

This fast-casual crowd-pleaser serves lots and lots of Greek-esque fries to university students and UMC employees.

Greek House does a booming delivery business, going until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and you’ll see as many pick-up orders as sit-down diners.

Get the specialty Helio Pita, Helio Salad, or Helio Fries: every manifestation of the dish involves avocado, a sunnyside-up egg, hot sauce, and feta cheese. Portions are large but save room for Walnut Baklava or Chocolate Cake.

Foodie Tip:

Park in the shared lot and obey the entrance and exit arrows, and there’s a streetcar stop just across Speedway near the hospital.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

For more information, visit azgreekhouse.com

It’s Greek to Me

15920 N. Oracle Rd., Suite. 120

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Way up north in Catalina, It’s Greek to Me has menu items you won’t find in the heart of the city.

An example is the Tiri Saganaki appetizer: imported Kefalograviera cheese with brandy, clarified butter, and lemon—flambéed at your table. They also offer a steak of the day entree and a fresh fish salad with olive oil, white wine, and garlic over Greek salad, and a honey yogurt cake that’s something to behold.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Tuesday – Saturday and closed on Sunday and Monday.

For more information, visit itsgreektomecatalina.com.

Opa! Time Gyros & Salads

1439 S. 4th Ave (Inside American Eat Co.)

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Not to be confused with the other Opa restaurant in town, Opa! Time Gyros & Salads was located on Campbell Avenue at Fort Lowell Road for well over a decade. The restaurant has since moved to the American Eat Co. when it cut the ribbon in 2018.

The eatery serves more than the gyros and chopped salads in its name, focusing also on wraps, Spanakopita, Baba Ghanoush, and some of the better falafel you’ll taste in town.

Foodie Tip:

Get the falafel as a wrap with melted feta cheese, and maybe some fries on the side.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. from Sunday – Thursday and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

For more information, visit opatimetucson.com.

Opa’s Best Greek American Cuisine

4590 E. Broadway Blvd.
Chicken Souvlaki Kabob at Opa's Best (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chicken Souvlaki Kabob at Opa’s Best (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Like previously mentioned, the family-owned and operated Opa’s Best Greek American Cuisine is a separate entity from Opa! Time. It’s a spacious sit-down restaurant in a strip mall, not situated in a food court.

Foodie Tip:

Go to Opa’s hungry.

To start, like chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant, guests are greeted with a Complimentary Meze of hummus, cucumbers, tzatziki, and pita, and entree portions are huge. The slow-roasted Lamb Dolmades are an unusual appetizer, and as the restaurant’s name implies, there’s no shortage of typical American plates from which to choose—the Spanakopita is a standout.

Opa’s offers lunch specials, too, and a great happy hour from 3 – 5 p.m.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday – Friday, and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information, visit opasbest.com.

Pappoule’s

7475 N. La Cholla Blvd.
Grilled Lamb Chops at Pappoule's (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Grilled Lamb Chops at Pappoule’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Another long-standing favorite, the original Pappoule’s location opened in the Tucson Mall food court in 1982.

Now you’ll find the affordable hotspot outside the Foothills Mall, with a calming view of the Santa Catalinas. Loyal customers dig the Grilled Lamb Chops, the hummus selections, the Classic Greek Salad, and especially the gyros.

Foodie Tip:

Don’t skip the desserts. The Baklava, Galatobouriko, and Cinnamon Pita are calling your name.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Monday – Saturday and 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, visit pappoules.com.

Pelio Grill Greek Taverna and Catering

994 E. University Blvd.

A Greek spot on the streetcar line—Pelio Grill Greek Taverna and Catering is a people-pleaser.

George Markou originally opened shop near the university’s Main Gate Square in 2003 as The Fat Greek restaurant. Unlike the others on this list, Markou’s cuisine is regionally specific: recipes come from his parents’ village of Alli Meria near Mount Pelion on the Aegean coast.

You’ll still find Greek classics like the Chicken or Beef Souvlaki Salad, Lamb Chop Platter, and the rotisserie meat gyros, but you could also order seasonal Halloumi Cheese, Calamari, salmon, or rice bowls.

Foodie Tip:

Sometimes it’s tough to get a table, especially at lunchtime when classes are in session, but it’s worth the wait.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily.

For more information, visit peliogrill.blogspot.com.

Urban Pita

345 E. Congress Street, Suite 135
Gyro at Urban Pita

Gyro at Urban Pita (Credit: Jackie Tran)

There’s no shortage of Mediterranean food throughout Tucson.

A relative newcomer to the scene, Urban Pita, is worthy of including in this list because it does such a great job with Greek standards, including the Gyro and Tzatziki Plate, Steak Shawarma with Tahini, Greek Salad, and Baklava.

Prices are reasonable and the quality is high. The restaurant is open late to accommodate hard-studying (and/or hard-partying) students, who, along with military personnel, receive a 10 percent discount off their tabs.

Foodie tip:

It’s easy to access Urban Pita as it’s right on the streetcar line.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. – midnight on Monday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 3 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, noon – 3 a.m. on Saturday, and 4 p.m. – midnight on Sunday.

For more information, visit urbanpitaaz.com.

Have a favorite Greek spot in Tucson? Let us know in the comments.

[This article was written on March 5, 2020] 

Angela Orlando is an anthropologist who owns Wandering Writers Workshops — retreats that take writers around the world. She’s into all things plant- and animal- and food-related, especially when cheese is somehow involved. She throws pottery and eats from her own handmade plates.

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