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Plaka Grill - Counter-Order Greek in Vienna and Falls Church


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For me and my dear aged mother, the main casualty of Friday night's storm was the cancellation of today's matinee performance of Don Giovanni at the Barns at Wolf Trap (well, actually, my mother's house in Fairfax was without electricity from 10:30 pm Friday to 4:00 pm Saturday; I suffered no such tribulation in the Kalorama Triangle). We had planned to have lunch before the opera at Plaka Grill in Vienna, which is right on the way. When we learned of the cancellation, we decided to have the lunch as planned.

Plaka Grill is in a dreary little strip mall on Lawyers' Road just off Maple Ave, next door to a Papa John's. It's quite a bare-bones sort of place. You place your order at the counter, and they give you a little stand with a number on it to put on your formica-top table so they'll know where to deliver your food. You fetch your own plastic forks and knives and paper napkins. But the service is friendly, cheerful, and efficient, and the food is delicious and inexpensive. We split an appetizer of dolmadakia, which was five grape-leaf rolls with a filling of lamb, beef, and rice, drizzled with a lemony sauce, served hot. They were actually very hot, and tasty beyond my expectation. Then we had "Chicago Gyros", which resemble every gyro you've ever had, but taken to a higher level. The pita wrapper was chewy but tender, the pressed meat stuff was tender, moist, and flavorful. The gyros were rounded out with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki, and I'd have to say that these were the best gyros I've ever encountered. The one order of dolmades, two gyros, and two bottles of Bass ale came to just over $29. No wonder this place is popular. I wouldn't go a very long way out of my way to eat here, but gosh, what a good lunch I had at such a trivial cost.

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You missed out on the Plaka gyro, which, when they are on, are pretty darn good. Instead of the pressed meat, it is thinly sliced pork stacked on the spit, which is then sliced off just like the pressed meat. The pita has the same fillings, plus French fries. As you said, probably not worth going out of the way for, but definitely worth a stop if you are nearby.

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You missed out on the Plaka gyro, which, when they are on, are pretty darn good. Instead of the pressed meat, it is thinly sliced pork stacked on the spit, which is then sliced off just like the pressed meat. The pita has the same fillings, plus French fries. As you said, probably not worth going out of the way for, but definitely worth a stop if you are nearby.

Both of their gyros are good, but the Plaka one is salty. It takes a LOT for me to say something is salty, but this thing should not be devoured without a cup of water nearby.

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We live in McLean and Plaka is one of our regular restaurants. When we order the Plaka gyro, we ask for no fries (even though that's how they do it in Greece). I don't recall ever having an overly salty Plaka gyro though. We go during off peak hours but the place is usually packed - lots of families. Over time, we've tried a bunch of stuff. The calamaries are good - but overly salty at times. We really like Peter's Special Salad - my wife says she dislikes arugula but we order this salad every time we go to Plaka. We've tried the mixed grill and decided to stick with the gyros. We've also had their pastitsio and rotisserie chicken and don't find them worth repeating. One thing I really don't like - they serve everything in recyclable plastic but they don't recycle. I actually take my beer bottles home to make sure they're recycled. I gotta remember to try their lamb kapama.

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Stopped here with my GF on Saturday afternoon around 1:30 PM. I had the pork souvlaki and she had the gyro. Both were very good and very substantial. The fries were interesting. They looked rather boring when they showed up, but were hot, perfectly crisp and seasoned with oregano as well as salt.

Only downside is that it's a pain to park in this tiny lot, and Lawyer's road is brutal to cross from Church. This beats the crap out of the Greek Grill (which sucks) and Maggios/Skorpios on Maple.

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Definitely a better than average fast casual Greek establishment.  The one in Vienna is slammed almost every night, and they seem to be able to keep up.  The Plaka gyro, though (carved from roasted pork slices on a spit, the apparently genuine way that gyro meat is prepared), has not done much for me lately.  It seems to be somewhat overdone little nubs of pork  (somewhat like the doner kabob meat at Doner Bistro out in Leesburg the time we went there). Most everything else has been a hit with our family.

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I drove by the new Falls Church location last night and it had a lot of people inside and even chatting on the sidewalk. Soft opening?

Talked to Peter, the owner, tonight. Official opening is on Monday, the 15th. Will have a wine by-the-ounce machine and seating for over 30 people outside! Once he's there more in a few weeks, he's planning on serving Greek pizzas. He said it's a different, more modern feel than the Vienna location.

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Went to Penzey's and stopped here for lunch today, ordered a pork souvlaki and fries with a fountain drink, $12.46.   You order at the counter and they bring it to your table.  The fries came out well ahead.  they are freshly made, thin fries, with a salt-pepper-basil seasoning on them.  Because the fries were thin, the basil overwhelmed the potato flavor, and because it was a large portion, the pile steamed itself limp pretty quickly.  A large portion, I ate about a third of them and ended up tossing the rest out.  The souvlaki had very nicely grilled pork chunks, very tasty, tender and moist, but not quite tender enough to bite through, so it was more like a big mouthful of pork, followed by 2-3 bites of meatless sandwich fixings, and then another big mouthful of pork.  Unfortunately, one of the chunks was mostly fat & connective tissue and I had to spit that out into a napkin or risk choking on it if I tried to eat around that to get the meat.    the tzatziki was good, tangy and garlicky.

I had souvlaki  a couple of weeks ago at Eleni's in Springfield.  I'm about equidistant between the two.  If I was hungry for meat, I'd go to Plaka, and probably order a platter style meal and skip the fries.  If I had a hankering for fries, I'd go to Eleni's.

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Went to the Falls Church location last weekend, and it was busy!  But good busy.  Service was very good and quick.  I ordered a bifteka (sp?) sandwich and fries.  I was thinking gyro and maybe I should have gone with that.  While my sandwich tasted really good, it was a complete mess.  The beef was a little too big for the pita, and there was a lot of feta and tzatziki sauce. But the feta/sauce mixture was REALLY good with my fries, cheese and tangy and perfect fry topping.  The fries were really nicely done and seasoned anyway, anymore I am getting less into fries, but I really liked these.  I will definitely be back as everything looked so good and again my meal tasted great, it was just really messy, so I probably will order something different.   

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The Plaka Gyro (roasted slices of pork stacked on spit, served with French Fries on sandwich) will be equally messy.  Really tasty, though.  You just need to go in with your fingers and pull out a few fries and a couple of slices of the roast pork, maybe a little of the other ingredients, and you will have a great sandwich, with a few extra things to nibble on as you go or at the end.

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Ate at the Vienna location last night.  It is added to my "living in Tysons 2x week" rotation.  The place was packed, service was gracious and the food was well flavored and a good value.  I had the Chicago platter and it was excellent.  My wife had the lamb kapama which was OK though she would order something different next time. Add a 1/2 priced bottle of wine as Happy hour goes to 9pm on Tuesdays and it was a great bargain.  Very Tasty

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Over the past couple of visits, as it was nearing closing time (about 20 minutes before advertised close), I noticed that the Vienna location will turn off their gyro rotisseries, and when you order either the Plaka or Chicago gyro, they will either slice the meat off of the spit, or it may have already been sliced off, and then they throw it on the flat top to reheat/finish cooking.  It really detracts from the flavor of the meat (IMO), and the sandwich overall seems more greasy than usual.  The most recent time, I asked them to not put the meat (Chicago) on the flat top, and they balked at the idea, saying they needed to ensure that it is fully cooked.  I continue to generally like their food, but will not be going in so close to closing time any longer.

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Hubby and I went to the Falls Church location while running a marathon of errands after I just got out from the gym and was starving- we got the regular gyro (not the one with fries inside, but the combo with fries).  Hubby hadn't been before, I normally run my Falls Church errands without him.  We both think this is one of the best gyros in the area.  I might have polished off the entire thing, which I rarely do.  I had to laugh the ordering system went down (for all of three minutes) and the young girl behind the counter made writing paper tickets for things seem like something out of the dark ages that just could not be done.  She was very nice, just a little flustered without technology, we giggled a little to ourselves later at our table.

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Went to the Falls Church location over the weekend and got a pork souvlaki platter with roasted potatoes instead of fries.  I'll never get the fries again.  Those roasted potatoes were awesome!  Lightly dressed in a lemon-olive oil-garlic mix, some slightly crunch-chewy edges on some of the spuds, I want another plate full of them.  The souvlaki was good and the salad was fresh and a good mix although the dressing was almost non-existent, but I just slathered forkfuls around in any dressing left behind from the potatoes.

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8 minutes ago, weezy said:

Went to the Falls Church location over the weekend and got a pork souvlaki platter with roasted potatoes instead of fries.  I'll never get the fries again.  Those roasted potatoes were awesome!  Lightly dressed in a lemon-olive oil-garlic mix, some slightly crunch-chewy edges on some of the spuds, I want another plate full of them.  The souvlaki was good and the salad was fresh and a good mix although the dressing was almost non-existent, but I just slathered forkfuls around in any dressing left behind from the potatoes.

There's something about Greek restaurants and oven-roasted potatoes - I'll probably never order french fries or orzo (or rice pilaf, which is a strangely common option) again, if oven-roasted potatoes are an option at a Greek restaurant.

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

There's something about Greek restaurants and oven-roasted potatoes - I'll probably never order french fries or orzo (or rice pilaf, which is a strangely common option) again, if oven-roasted potatoes are an option at a Greek restaurant.

What the Greeks and many of my Middle Eastern cronies tend to do is add beef broth, garlic, and lemon to the roasted potatoes. 

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Ate at the Vienna location again.  Plaka was hoping at 7pm when we walked in to grab the last table.  I had a 1/2 roast chicken with Salad and veggies.  The chicken was good, a bit under seasoned but solid and had much much less fat and other pieces then a Peruvian joint.  My wife had a salad bowel with shwarma  and we had a 9$ bottle of wine.  Seems if you ask every night could be 1/2 priced wine night.  Total was 32 which hits the bulls eye for cheap eats.  We will be back as they try hard and everything is generally fresh.

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Ate here about 4:30  on Sunday at the new location in Falls Church.  They have moved to the shopping center with Haandi, about 2 doors down. Only a handful of people in there, considering the time of day.  New location has two rooms, a long skinny room up front with booths on one side and 2-tops on the other, plus a back room with 8-10  large  tables, so they have probably doubled or nearly tripled their seating.

I got the moussaka that comes with a Greek salad and the roasted potatoes.  My sister got the daily special, which was basically a spinach-and-gyro phyllo burrito, also with the salad & roasted potatoes.  They serve now on cafeteria sectioned plates, which I dislike.  Potatoes used to be served in a bowl and had a lot of great garlicky lemony juice with them; no more, they were on the dry side but did have a reasonable lemony flavor.  Salad was difficult to corral, as it kept sliding off the side of the plate, and was barely dressed, with flavorless olives & feta, obviously out their respective brines much too long.  The moussaka itself was very nice, well spiced and harmonious flavors with creamy slightly tangy bechamel on top.  We were given one small side pita cut into quarters that was also mostly texture, no yeasty flavor.   $14.95 for each dish.  

 

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