It’s just after 7 in the evening on a bone-chillingly cold Thursday night and the Apollo Restaurant in Lackawanna is buzzing. A sign directs patrons to “seat yourself,” a challenge on this night, as most of the booths that line the walls are full with what is, in general, an older crowd. Passing by the tables as we make our way to the back, the smells are intoxicating.
Like many family restaurants in the Southtowns, the Apollo serves breakfast all day, and at first glance, better than half of the patrons are partaking in what is traditionally morning fare. Fluffy omelets, piles of home fries and French toast fill the plates.
If you are familiar with the Apollo but haven’t been in a while, the second thing you’ll notice (after the food) is that the restaurant was remodeled a while back, and it has a warm, welcoming feel. The ambiance is comfortable, but it’s the food that keeps folks coming back.
Though tempted by the breakfast, I felt obliged to try a selection of Greek fare. I opted for the beef souvlaki with a side of dill dressing. At $13.59, it might seem on the high end of “Cheap Eats” until the plate arrives. It more resembled a platter and was mounded with a large salad, plenty of feta and a half-dozen large steak tips char-grilled and flavorful, cooked to a perfect medium.
The plate was so full the roasted Greek potatoes were served on the side, and along with the souvlaki, there was easily enough food for two.
My dining companions gave the breakfast a try and weren’t disappointed. In true Cheap Eats fashion, a pair of eggs with a generous portion of home fries (that were delicious), bacon and toast was a mere $5.59. The same meal served during breakfast hours will set you back just $4.59.
I’m not big on bacon, but my pet peeve is two-fold when it comes to frying the pig. First, that thin, flavorless precooked bacon that a surprising number of restaurants use should be abolished.
Second, no one should have to order bacon “crispy.” Floppy bacon is inexcusable and a sign of a restaurant that doesn’t take its breakfast seriously. The Apollo offered eggs that were light, potatoes that were well seasoned, and, the bacon was indeed real and crispy.
Across the table was an order of pancakes ($4.99 for a full stack, $3.99 for a short) and sausage, and like the souvlaki, there is enough food to guarantee you leave full.
The rest of the menu is varied, featuring plenty of comfort foods to compliment the Greek cuisine. From homemade meatloaf ($8.99) to a pair of pork chops ($11.99), fried chicken ($10.29) and liver and onions ($9.29), if you can’t find something on the menu to satisfy your appetite, you aren’t looking hard enough.
Add to it a lengthy list of daily specials and a revolving dessert case that catches your eye on the way in. The Apollo offers generous portions of fresh food, friendly service and prices that won’t break the bank. As for that dessert case, while I was far too full to indulge, I did grab a wedge of baklava for later, and it was a sticky sweet slice of heaven.
Where: 3387 South Park Ave., Lackawanna (822-8145)
Hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Notes: Cash only (ATM on site); plenty of parking.