|Cafe Mix Grill, Mesa AZ
||[30 Mar 2010|12:55pm]
Some would argue that the Greeks should be revered for their contributions to history, and producing such influential philosophers as Plato and Aristotle. Some would argue the same reverence should be placed upon their helping lay the foundations for democracy, and for the debt we owe to their contribution to the arts as well.
Sparta would come to overtake Athens and leave Athens a forgotten memory for a thousand years. However, in the present and reaching out to the far future, it is Greece that is taking over the world. What weapon you ask do they utilize to overpower us, albeit quite willingly?
It is the Gyro. Doesn't it seem like they are everywhere?
Greek restaurants and I have a relationship akin to one of my neighbor's as a young boy- I couldn't pronounce his name when I first met him, and I was kinda afraid because he was so different and from another country. It would take about 5 years for me to summon the courage to try to be friends, and my first attempt ended in disaster. Grisly dried out bits of alleged lamb in some strip mall in Minnesota. I swore, never again.
Time has a way of healing all wounds however, and my heart would try to open up again. I wanted to be friends again. We found out we had a lot in common! Strong, bold flavoring is how we like to live. We want to live balanced lives, so yea don't throw solely some gamey meat in like that likely-abandoned "restaurant" in MN, put in some onions, tomatoes. And you always have to have your friend that is the life of the party, Tzaziki! He's the kind of friend that no matter how much you hang out, you never want to say no when he wants to hit the town.
Once I became friends with my neighbor, I realized Hey, these people are EVERYWHERE! I have been living in a box. What a wonderful world with so much variety and life!
Little Greek restaurants are popping up all over the country the last decade or so it seems. I have been friends with some and sworn enemies of others. However, I have not forgotten my lesson as a young boy that realized there were more than just Asians and Caucasians in the world- Cafe Mix, will you be my friend too?
Pulling up to Cafe Mix is a relaxing experience. A colorful depiction of a Chicken Greek Salad surrounded by Pita greets you, tempting you right away. Opening the doors, there is a vast ceiling with a very nice beige color, and depictions of Greek culture and art are everywhere. Tasty, Healthy, Food! is blazoned above the cooking area, and you can watch the chef at his work on the grill. It could probably seat about 50 people, but the layout makes you feel like it could fit double that. It is not a sit and order restaurant however, you place your order at the counter, although a helpful young lady approached us and other newcomers streaming in, letting us know how it worked.
As much as I love the Gyro however, I wanted to try out as much as I could. Eying the Mix's Combination, which would net me Lamb gyro, Chicken Gyro-style, Tenderloin Kabob, and Chicken Kabob, I felt that was the broadest way to get acquainted. At 11.99, it included basmati rice, salad, hummus, and pita. Thinking the price was lower at a place I frequent in Phoenix, I inquired if the serving size was enough for me ( I audition for the Before Guy in those Slim-Fast commercials ). I literally overhead the table behind me laugh, and the server smiled with quiet confidence, saying "I'm pretty sure it will be enough." I also ordered a bottomless fountain drink/ ice tea, for 1.75. My girlfriend was less adventurous, opting for the Bacon Cheeseburger adding fries, with the burger being $6.50 and another $2.50 to add fries and a drink.
This confidence came to be well-founded. After getting some green tea and picking our seats, barely a minute passed before I was brought the salad that came with my meal. It was a worthy rendition, with a great balance of Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, onions. Not too much dressing which I approved of, the olives and onions gave it a tart kick, balanced by the cheese. I forgot to take a picture, but the serving size was much larger than most salads thrown in with your entree.
Our entrees arrived, and my Mix Combination looked great, with a faint vapor rising from the freshly grilled meats. I tried the lamb first, and was satisfied, but not that amazed. It had the right flavor, and I wouldn't say it was dry, but, it was approaching it. Then the beef tenderloin- this was nicer, with a nice juicy pinkish center. I would've liked the outside to be almost charred but that is a personal preference, this had more than adequate moisture and definitely a valued member of this meal. The chicken-gyro style was better than the lamb, but still not quite out of this world. Then the chicken kabob came and put all the others to shame. I don't understand how, but it put up plenty of resistance when I cut it with my knife, but it came apart in my mouth. This was the best chicken I've had in my life that was under $10 at a restaurant. Just crazy good. The rice was straightforward, cooked competently. The hummus was colorful, but not as flavorful as some I've had before, and the pita bread was also fine, but was almost a little too hard for dipping in hummus.
Toni's burger was fine, with a hand-molded patty, bun finished on the grill with some butter, bacon nice and crispy. Lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion also packed in, I'd say this burger is about equal to the burgers you could get at Red Robin. The fries were out of this world! Seasoned perfectly, crunchy on the outside and pillowly wonderfulness within, this is about as good as a thinly sliced piece of potato can get.
Sometimes a first impression is so good that you know, then and there, that you are friends for life. Cafe Mix is joining my circle. And so the legacy of Athens claims another victim. And I hope you will join us!