Taverna Agora

After our second try at eating at Roast Grill (which may be turning into the place that’s known for not being open,) we decided to head over to Taverna Agora. This Greek restaurant has been in Raleigh for 20 years. They started in North Raleigh on Glenwood (now Dos Taquitos) and made the move to their current location on Hillsborough Street in the summer of 2015. For a complete history of this Greek eatery, I would suggest reading the fine article by Mimi Montgomery in Walter Magazine.
I’m a sucker for a good pastitcio, and Taverna Agora did not disappoint. There used to be a Greek restaurant in Cary called Spartacus Grille that closed years ago. It had the best pastitcio I had ever tasted. This was a very close second. Spartacus’ version had a little taste of cinnamon that gave it an edge over Taverna’s. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a very manageable portion for lunch. Sometimes layered noodle dishes like this or lasagna can be watery or gummy. This was neither. It had well-proportioned layers and was cooked to perfection.
We set out for some Roast Grill Hot Weiners but found a great Greek place just around the corner. Add Taverna Agora to your list of places to check out downtown. It’s the place with the bright blue door. — Michael

Mamma Mia, here we go again… attempting to find and highlight great options for your dining pleasure. While finding a decent Greek place can feel like Homer quality odyssey, our travels avoiding the Scylla and Charibdes’ of the restaurant world, brought us safely to Taverna Agora. As we were new in port, we had to ask, “So, what are you known for?” Our oracle-esque server immediately pointed to the menu to two specific areas and gave us the sage words of “Our pitas, platters, Pastitcio, and Moussaka are all sought after.”

Not interested in trying to untangle the Gordian Knot that comes from making decisions, I immediately heard the siren’s song of the Chicken Pita. My experiences with Greek food, have often dealt with the fickle “Chicken Pita” and I have often felt the disappointment of stale pita, unappetizing chicken, mushy vegetables and under achieving tzatziki. This is most definitely not the case at Taverna Agora. The pita was warm and soft like a golden fleece. The chicken had been cooked perfectly on a skewer and then delivered to the pita juicy and delicious. The feta, tomato, onion, and lettuce were fresh, crisp and flavorful. The tzatziki was the perfect complement to the Argonauts on this voyage. The actual amounts of the ingredients were also perfect for a lunch, not overindulgent, allowing me to keep my senses and focused on my next quest.

I highly recommend that if your travels or desires make you search for Greek Cuisine, set a course for Taverna Agora and confidently order the Chicken Pita. –Don

When I was in college I worked at a place called the Gyro Wrap in Athens, Georgia. And, yes, it is pronounced yee-roh (like hero). We had an authentic vertical spit to roast the beef and lamb mix. As you can imagine, I’m fussy about my gyros.

“The origin of grilling meats on a skewer can be traced to the Eastern Mediterranean in the Mycenean Greek and Minoan periods. The Gyro (the technique of vertical spit of stacked meat slices and cutting it off while cooking) first arrived in Greece in the 1920s, brought from Constantinople and Smyrna by refugees.

The Gyro was first introduced to Americans in 1965 by George Apostolou in the Parkview Restaurant located in Chicago, Illinois. The dish quickly got popular, and the demand resulted in other restaurants offering gyros as an alternative to hamburgers.” Source: https://grecotrulygreek.com/facts-about-gyros

I am pleased and proud to say that the gyros at Taverna Agora are the real thing: A gorgeously grilled flatbread pita wrapped around beef and lamb with lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. The tzatziki is less garlicky than I make it at home, but I can be a little extreme at home. The general public might not be ready for it.

After the first couple of bites, when I knew I was in good hands, I faked a trip to the bathroom to scan the open kitchen. I didn’t see a spit. On the way back, I stopped the manager and asked. He walked back and opened an upright oven door to show me the real, honest-to-god Greek vertical rotisserie that they grilled the meat on. Yep, the real deal, just less messy than my old one. Major points to Taverna Agora for doing it right.

So, yep, the gyro is the real deal and damn tasty. Highly recommended. — Chad

Comments (