Great Greek: Olympia Cafe excels at specialties

Everyone needs a good Greek spot. In a pinch, it’s important to know where the closest high-quality gyro or souvlaki can be found. But sometimes the best Greek restaurant can skimp on the most important part of the meal: the baklava.

Some Greek restaurants serve store-bought baklava, made on the outskirts of some town, shipped away on a truck and frozen until served.

The baklava at Olympia Cafe is fresh and made locally. (Jason K. Watkins/For The Journal)

Not Olympia Cafe on Central Avenue. Olympia doesn’t skimp on the baklava, or anything else for that matter. Olympia’s is made just off-site (making baklava requires patience and space), so it’s fresh and crispy and tastes like it was made today.

Baklava is the most popular Greek dessert, and it’s made with great care from 10 or 12 layers of impossibly thin filo dough, then soaked in a honey-based syrup. Between two of the lower layers is a nut – usually pistachio – filling with just a hint of cinnamon. Good baklava, like Olympia’s, will make noise when you cut into it with a fork. The layers should slide around a bit, like a sandwich with too much mayonnaise. Finding authentic, fresh baklava is a tall order, so for that alone Olympia Cafe is worth the trip.

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But it also serves consistently good Greek specialities that aren’t so rare: gyros sandwiches, falafel, lamb and beef souvlaki, and a variety of Greek and Turkish salads. Everything is prepared fast and fresh, so it’s perfect for a quick lunch at a central location.

The gyros is small but incredibly filling, stuffed with a generous stack of gyros meat. Olympia’s is savory and lean, made from 80 percent lamb and 20 percent beef. It’s garnished with fresh, thinly sliced tomatoes and onions, enough to taste but not enough to compete with the protein. A light spread of tzatziki, made from Greek yogurt and cucumber and dill, holds the whole thing together, while a perfectly toasted pita acts as a vessel.

Too much tzatziki and the dill overpowers the rest of the ingredients, and you end up with a creamy mess. Too little and the gyro is dry. Olympia finds the sweet spot.

The gyros plate comes with a serving of golden french fries that not even two people could eat, and because this is New Mexico, squeeze bottles full of a sweet but spicy green chile salsa are available to add a little heat and to provide an alternative to boring ketchup.

Olympia also serves souvlaki, small chunks of chicken or lamb or beef skewered and grilled and then served with rice or vegetables. Vegetarians will rejoice at the copious menu items geared toward their tastes. During off-peak hours, meals arrive at the speed of a fast-food restaurant – order at the counter when you walk in, take your number to your table, and within a…

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