My mum took me on a magical Greek holiday when I was sixteen. Before I was born, she had lived and worked there for a year and fell deeply in love with the culture and cuisine, so I grew up appreciating Greek food and music.
When I heard about the Great Greek restaurant in Sherman Oaks, I was eager to try it out. This beloved eatery has been a favorite for locals and celebrities for 38 years and has even been used as a set in an episode of NCIS! When we arrived, we could hear live music playing, and we were warmly greeted by the General Manager, Dionisi, who has been with the Great Greek since it opened! As we were shown to our table, we saw families with children and groups of ladies out for the night, and couples on date nights. Everyone was smiling and laughing, and we couldn't wait to begin our feast! We went with the famous Spectacular Greek Deluxe Family Style Feast, including fourteen authentic Greek regional cuisine specialties. Why settle for just one or two Greek dishes when you can have fourteen? Our enthusiastic server Peter, whose family comes from a village in Tripoli, took our drink order and then returned with Saganaki, which was a special grilling cheese set on fire with lemon cognac! After that exciting introduction to our feast, he returned with whipped caviar Tarama, yogurt Tzatziki, eggplant Melitzanosalata, freshly made house hummus, and Greek Fassolia beans dressed with lemon and olive oil, and a huge Greek village salad. The apps were served with warm pita bread and a basket of Greek sourdough type of bread. Every dish tasted extraordinarily fresh and flavorful. We sampled all these delicious dishes but knew we had to save room for the main selections to come, so we accepted Peter's offer to clear our plates and sat back and relaxed, but not for long as there was excitement on the way. The live music intensified, and Peter and the other waiters joined arms and began to dance through the restaurant performing traditional Greek folk dances. At one point, they pulled in a table of ladies who happily joined in the dance as the other diners applauded and cheered them on. We felt like we were at a Greek wedding and everyone in the restaurant was our friends and family. Peter then did a solo dance with a full shot glass on his forehead and impressed us with his athleticism. A man of many skills! Then our main courses began to arrive, one after another. We were served dolmathes, freshly hand-made stuffed grape leaves, kalamaria, lamb, manestra pasta, keftethes meatballs, pastitsio deep-dish pasta, and chicken kebab and spanakopita. Suffice it to say, we were overwhelmed and delighted with every dish. Peter enjoyed explaining how the traditional delicacies were made with the highest quality ingredients. The portions were so substantial that we accepted the offer of boxing up what we couldn't finish. We washed down this outstanding meal with a refreshing bright blue house Martini, and Mediterranean Mule infused with Greek fig vodka. Greek desserts are not to be missed, so we had to sample them. We tasted their famous rice pudding, baklava, and galaktoboureko, which was similar to a rich flan made with phyllo dough. We enjoyed these treats with a high-quality Ouzo, smooth and tasty. All three desserts were an exquisite end to an incredible evening of Greek gastronomical delight and joyous entertainment and we left with happy hearts and many boxes of leftovers, which we enjoyed for the next three days! We now understand why so many celebrities love this restaurant and have their signed photographs all over the walls. But we also understand why so many locals visit on the regular. The vibe is fun and relaxed, and the authentic food is top tier. The Great Greek Restaurant is like visiting the lovely Greek family you never knew you had! Opa!