Greek diners are a dime a dozen in Western New York, but Taki's serves its souvlaki with a side of witty repartee. The two-level dining room is adorned with posters like this one signed by Pandora: “I adore getting Taki’s Takeout – They always put my food in a box.” Then there’s the confession from Poseidon: “Don’t tell anybody, but I absolutely love Takis’ fish fry.” As for Achilles, he’s got a weakness for the gyro and feta omelette. The food is standard, but if you’re looking for lunch in downtown Buffalo, it’s a great choice.
Everything on Taki’s menu is under $9, so it’s an affordable weekday stop. The kitchen opens 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and its location on Court Street makes it popular with the lunch crowd. It serves its sizable breakfast menu all day for those hankerin' for an omelette at noon.
We grabbed a Taki’s Special ($8.99), an overstuffed omelette featuring ham, bacon, sausage, gyro meat, fried green peppers, onions and cheese. Served with home fries and toast, it’s a belly bomb of a breakfast. While we wished we'd asked for feta cheese at first, the standard American creaminess complemented the salty meat well. The gyro bit back with a well seasoned, smoky spice. Omelette fixins at Taki's are mixed into the egg, so there's an even distribution throughout. The menu calls it “just delicious,” and we’d have to agree.
Taki’s boasts about its souvlaki, so we had to try the Open Chicken ($7.25). It comes with chunks of charred marinated chicken breast on iceberg with tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and a side of pita. We’d have liked more herbs in the oily dressing, and a smattering of Kalamata olives would have added a nice touch. The meat was moist and plentiful and the feta appropriately salty. The tomatoes were mealy but it’s February in Buffalo, so we can’t ask for miracles.
Open Souvlaki also comes in beef, tuna and gyro ($7.25), beef ($7.45) and meatless ($6.95). Breakfast souvlaki includes home fries and toast for $7.45, as well. A chicken souvlaki wrap makes it portable, with chicken or gyro for $6.50. For a twist on the classic, try the gyro melt ($6.95). Taki’s swaps out the typical pita for grilled Texas toast at $6.95, and the extra bread makes for a carb-lovers’ American twist.
The house soup is a thick and creamy chicken lemon rice ($2.95 for a cup, $3.50 for a bowl) which rounds out any sandwich or sub. That rich broth swims with soft rice, shredded carrot, chunks of meat and a citrusy zing that reminded us of Avolgemono. Try dipping a little pita for a taste of the old country.
Our favorite item was the flaky, savory Spanakopita ($5.75), a spinach pie made with feta and phyllo dough. Unlike souvlaki and pancakes, it’s not standard at every establishment, so we order it whenever we can. If you catch it on Taki’s menu, we suggest you do the same. The filling is slightly bitter, gooey and creamy to offset the flaky, buttery dough. Order that and a cup of soup for a hearty meal.
Taki’s offers just what we expected from a Greek diner, and that’s a compliment. The food is solid, fast and filling. The atmosphere is whimsical and welcoming. And if you’ve got to be downtown, it’s not a bad way to break up the day.
45 Court St. (845-6422, takisrestaurant.com)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
Vegetarian options: Yes
Gluten-free options: Yes
Taste of home: Spanakopita and Chicken Lemon Rice soup