This past Sunday, I took a trip to lovely Tarpon Springs. Yes, I know it is not in Miami, but I cannot help but spread the word about this small town with just about the most fabulous Greek food you'll ever taste!
One of the largest Greek communities in the USA, the city of Tarpon Springs is about 4 hours from Miami and well worth the drive. There is tons to do and tons to eat! Just drive out to the main strip-- Docadenese Drive. Surrounded by Greek delicacies, hand rolled cigars, the salty smell of the water and cheery Greek shop owners, you won't want to leave.
Known for sponge diving, you'll see more sponges and sponge boats then you could ever imagine. Venture into the sponge factories and pick up a few to take back home. Don't forget the soap though... Right on this strip is hands-down the best soap shop in the world--GETAGURU. Made in house with all natural ingredients, this small pink-washed shop will have you dreaming of opening your own specialty store. Once you're done dreaming, its time to start eating!
You cannot say that you've been to Tarpon Springs if you left without eating at Hella's. I've been here a few times and everything is really good. But the Gyros top my list. The gyros are hot, stuffed and absolutely delicious. I was really happy with the amount of tzatziki sauce they pour on-- sometimes many places make them too wet or too dry. This was perfect. The Greek salad, complete with large chunks of feta cheese was amazing. Big enough to be a meal on its own, it won't dissapoint. And don't forget to wash it down with some Greek beer or a deliciously refreshing Sangria. It was so good, I had to ask the waitress for the secret. Apparently, a few fruits isn't enough--you have to add all kinds of fruit juices too!
As for dessert, the Baklava is outstanding--Hella's has a bakery attached to it as well! Everything is fresh and baked right there... just ask the waitress who proclaimed that their signature dessert, "baklava cheesecake" is life changing! I'm sure it is-- given that it often runs out before noon. Tip: Bring a cooler--take these sweets home!
So, what's the pricing like? Well, that too is fabulous! The gyros are about $8, beers $4 , Sangria $6.
Tarpon Springs may not be in Miami, but it is definitely worth a visit--the whole town is all about "local." What is nice about the strip is there are a ton of shops that you can't find just anywhere.
Although a bit touristy and often a bit tacky, a lot of the stores have European linens and shoes (super amazing Italian leather shoes, to die for!) because the majority of the people that live in that immediate area are Greek. And the people that work there sound like every single person from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". AND every other shop/boat/place was called Nicholas, I swear to God! It was awesome!
Maybe Tarpon is Greek for Food Fabulousness! Lets ask Mr. Portokalos! :)