This column is about the experience of food in Chattanooga. I will take people out for dinner and lunch dates at various restaurants in the Chattanooga region. It is not meant to be a review per se, but an account of a one-time experience at a restaurant. Your mileage may vary depending upon your expectations.
This week, I met up with Monica Hertle for takeout at 2 Crazy Greeks at 4848 Hixson Pike. The former barbecue restaurant-well, shack, technically-turned Greek establishment has been quietly gaining fans since opening in late 2015. Owned by “authentic Greeks,” the menu offers all your Greek favorites, including gyros, falafel, pita, sandwiches and salads.
Readers should note that Monica and I are officially “going steady.” I’ve given her my letterman’s jacket, and she hasn’t stopped wearing it around to all her classes. However, she’s graciously allowing me to date other people for the purpose of this column. So shoot me an email if you want to get in on that action.
Several readers of this column have emailed me about 2 Crazy Greeks with nothing but accolades for the food and personalities of the owners. Like OPA on Chattanooga’s North Shore, it’s the owners’ love affair with food that makes 2 Crazy Greeks a worthy food destination.
The “crazy Greeks” are brothers Paco and Nicky Fotiadis. Authentically Greek, they seek to offer authentic gyros and Greek and American food through their family-run business.
Because 2 Crazy Greeks is a to-go kind of place, we decided to purchase our food and take it back to Monica’s house. She also maintains a collection of boxed wine that I wanted to drink. Of course, you could sit in your car and eat if you want. It’s your life. Both of us had driven by this location many times-I buy socks and underwear at the Northgate Mall on a regular basis-but until it became 2 Crazy Greeks, we hadn’t thought twice about visiting.
“I guess I didn’t know what to expect from what used to be a barbecue restaurant in (essentially) the Dollar General parking lot,” Monica said. “But the owners were extremely friendly and let us look over the menu without being overbearing as to what we wanted to eat, which was nice.”
You can either walk up to the window to place an order or use the drive-thru on the other side. We wanted to chat with the owners, and they were eager to offer suggestions about what we should order. It’s worth pointing out, too, that the owners have done their best to make what is a basic trailer into a nice burst of color and excitement from the road. They even have a gladiator mascot on a sign to hail people in. It’s almost as if the traveling carnival is in town.
When we asked what the most popular item on the menu was, the chef immediately responded with, “Get the lamb gyro.” So Monica and I each ordered one, along with a spanakopita (a sort of spinach/feta pie) and a few desserts to split.
We drove back to her house with an armload of food and used Emily’s (Monica’s housemate) turquoise plates to make everything look nice. Gyros are traditionally messy to eat, and these were no exception.
Monica admitted that her introduction to gyros was through places like Great Wraps in the mall. The 2 Crazy Greeks version was, of course, much better. Immediately, the homemade tzatziki sauce provided a nice kick of spice that you don’t find in other “Greek” places. The meat was perfectly cooked and complemented by the sharp dill flavor of the sauce. I am a glutton, so I consumed the entire gyro in one sitting. Monica, however, saved half for lunch the next day and reported back that it was “equally good cold as it was warm.”
The spanakopita was the best I’ve ever had. I haven’t had a ton of experience with the spinach pie dish, but I thought the 2 Crazy Greeks version was incredible. The pie was rich and savory. I think there was as much feta as spinach, which are two of my favorite things. The crust was light and flaky.
Speaking of feta, a man behind us ordered some feta fries, which sound as if they would be beyond delicious. Next time!
I don’t know about you, but I always order too much food at takeout places. My eyes are bigger than my stomach and I think, “There’s two of us, so why shouldn’t we order two desserts?” It makes perfect sense at the time.
We ordered a baklava (of course) and a dessert called semolina sweet (a Greek custard dish). Both desserts were a wonderful end to the meal. The semolina sweet reminded me of a crème brûlée without the burn. Monica enjoyed the semolina-a type of flour that gives the dish its texture-which wasn’t overly sweet.
“I would definitely consider stopping by while I am out that way just for something sweet,” she said.
Would we go back?
Drive-thru Greek food is a rarity in Chattanooga. There’s not much to compare 2 Crazy Greeks to other than walk-up barbecue restaurants, food trucks and other Greek places. I enjoyed my first visit and will be back for more gyros and, specifically, those feta fries. Our entire bill was about $27 before tip, which is a little steep for takeout most nights. Of course, we ordered way too much food, though. Expect to pay about $20 plus tax for two people to eat enough. We’re looking forward to the next visit.
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