George’s Greek Cafe: The taste of Santorini, the warmth of Greece
2009-12-23 · By Chandra Clewley
What could be better than a little taste of Santorini in the heart of Downtown Long Beach? Thursday night was the 10th anniversary of George’s Greek Café, the Long Beach staple that not only serves up some of the most dependable Greek food in Southern California, but does it with a friendliness that goes far with locals as well as tourists.
The father/son team of George and Demitri Loizedes has, between the two of them, over 75 years of combined restaurant experience, which is obvious from the welcome you receive when you walk in the door. As someone lucky enough to have been to Greece, it reminds me a bit of a restaurant called Santorini Mou, in Oia.
I have always been greeted with welcome at George’s and Thursday night was no exception. The patio area was covered and set up with a band playing soothing classic rock. The open bar was a delight, and of course, the Ouzo stood prominently displayed. I think the only thing missing may have been the Mythos, but they make up for it by having 3 other Greek bottled beers to choose from.
The food was set up buffet style, and the offerings were Tzatziki, a classic yogurt dip; Humus, a smooth garbanzo garlic dip; Dolmathes, stuffed grape leaves; Keftethes, especially rich and pleasant meatballs with a tiny hint of cinnamon; Lamb and Beef Gyro Meat, Greek Salad, Shrimp Souvlakia; Rack of Lamb and of course delicious pita bread to put it all together. I wish I could have piled up a “to go” box.
I am always delighted by the freshness of the Tzatziki and the smooth flavors in the Humus, but the variety of the buffet allowed the long-time patrons to try things that perhaps they had not experienced before on the menu.
As I was dishing my plate up, one of the gals came by and traded out one of the empty trays for a new dish. Without further thought, she put the last meatball in the empty tray on my plate before whisking it away. “Here, have the last meatball!” It was so family-style and culturally Greek, that I had to laugh. I will certainly be ordering the Keftethes again, they were delicious!
Of course, the Long Beach crowd was diverse and just as friendly as the staff, and it does make you realize how well kept of a secret this town really is, in so many ways. If you haven’t tried George’s Greek Café, I would highly recommend it as one of the absolute staples of the community. There are three locations currently and you can find the menu and more information on the website www.georgesgreekcafe.com.