How to Go Greek on Gate Parkway

Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Dining, Jacksonville | No Comments

Greek Isles Cafe is next to Island Girl at Interstate 295 and Gate Parkway.

A version of this review appeared in the Thursday, March 21, 2013 edition of the Florida Times-Union.

It’s a treat to find a neighborhood restaurant these days where food quality and service upstage ad budgets, free Wi-Fi and slick websites. Especially the kind that dares to roam within range of the chain-crazy St. Johns Town Center.

A myth, you say? I know some authorities on mythology who might say something about that.

Toward the eastern edge of Gate Parkway, just west of Interstate 295 on the Southside, you’ll find Greek Isles Café, a skinny storefront next to the Island Girl cigar bar. I found the place in pursuit of a late lunch Saturday, with no waiting for a booth. Seating is rather (yes, I’ll say it) spartan, with six booths and two tables. But what they lack in seating they make up for in Greek blue, which covers the booths, floor and wooden shutters that flank large prints of Aegean scenes.

While the bulk of the menu highlights Greek fare, there are plenty of all-American standards to satisfy, including burgers, salads and sandwiches. They also serve up a respectable mix of egg dishes, waffles, French toast, pancakes and omelets daily until 2 p.m. Kids get five items just for them, all $6.

House Salad with Greek Vinaigrette Dressing

Promising menu notwithstanding, I spotted a whiteboard of lunch specials and placed my bet on Chicken Cacciatore with linguine ($9.95). The entrée came with soup or salad and bread. I opted for the house salad with Greek vinaigrette, which was light and tangy with fresh onion, bell pepper, pepperoncini, tomato, black olive and romaine. It came without weighty adornments such as cheese or croutons, just right for us waistline watchers.

The Chicken Cacciatore was a hearty portion of sautéed chicken seasoned with onion, green pepper, stewed tomatoes, wine, and oregano atop linguine. The flavor of the chicken and veggies was excellent and lived up to its “special” marquee. The linguine was a bit on the clumpy side, like it needed a good toss with its upstairs neighbors to meld the flavors. The butter-drenched slice of baguette that came with it probably canceled out the salad’s previously heralded waistline benefits.

My server was on the spot with regular deliveries of Coke Zero ($2.25, bottomless). I’ll gladly add Greek Isles to my short list of area restaurants that feature this all-too-rare fountain flavor.

Chicken Cacciatore with Linguine

You can tell a lot about a Greek restaurant by the strength of the sugar coma you fall into after baklava. Greek Isles offered a version ($3.50) that exceeded all expectations, dripping with sugary syrup between layers of phyllo dough, chopped nuts and what resembled a gooey brown sugar paste. I’ll be back for more.

While my lunch tab was pricey at $16.80, it was more dinner-like with salad, bread, entrée, drink and dessert. Breakfasts range from $2.50 to $9.95, and most lunches can be had for $6-9, with standard entrees in the mid-teens and only two more than $20. Beer and wine are available.

Greek Isles is a casual place that is within walking distance of a plethora of apartments and condos. It’s also a convenient lunching spot for area office parks. It’s a simple place with good food that seems to do a lot of things well. If you’re taking a break from the chains, this is a promising place to start, and start learning your mythology.

Ahhhh ... Baklava!

Greek Isles Café is open Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (closed Monday). They accept all major credit cards. For more information, call 904.564.2290. While there is no website, you’ll find reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon … and here!

 

Greek Isles Cafe

7860 Gate Parkway #116, Jacksonville, FL 32256
904.564.2290
No website

Hours:

  • Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Closed Monday

What to Expect:

  • Reservations: No
  • Credit Cards: Yes (all major)
  • Children’s Menu: Yes
  • Catering: Yes
  • Bar Service: Beer and wine
  • Price Range: Moderate

Comments

comments