If I’m getting excited about a salad, it’s probably a Greek salad.
I’m not talking about a house salad topped with some generic feta. I’m talking about a lettuce-free mix of ripe tomato, cucumber and peppers, topped liberally with a slightly tangy vinaigrette and huge chunks of feta.
Basically, I’m talking about exactly what is pictured above.
Melanthio’s serves up a perfectly good Greek salad. The veggies have a decent amount of crunch. It’s all fresh and the feta is as good as any I’ve had in Chicago (not mushy and crumbly, like the feta served at so many other places in the city.) What I ordered is called a “horiatiki” salad. It’s a traditional Greek village staple, and it’s delicious enough to appeal to even the most salad-scoffing carnivore.
As a college student in Philadelphia, my favorite restaurant was a Greek place called Estia. If you’re ever in Philly, GO THERE. They have the most fantastic horiatiki salad I’ve had. Another college favorite of mine was saganaki, a flambeéd wedge of cheese topped with lemon found at the same restaurant. A friend and I affectionately dubbed it “the heart attack plate.”
Naturally I ordered the saganaki at Melanthio’s as well. Despite being a cardiologist’s daughter, I have a penchant for all things artery-clogging. Grape leaves stuffed with beef and rice and a gyro platter rounded out the meal.
Everything tasted good. The grape leaves were unlike any I’ve had before: Unlike the rice and parsley-filled version I’ve had at Middle Eastern eateries, these came smothered in an egg-lemon sauce. They tasted nice, but I found myself missing the light, refreshing quality of other takes on this appetizer.
The gyro platter was my favorite dish of the night. I couldn’t help but compare the horiatiki and saganaki to the ones found at Estia – and frankly, they fell slightly short – but the gyro plate had some of the most peppery, tender slices of lamb I’ve had. It was really good – and worth the slightly unpleasant aftertaste that a lot of meat can leave. The fries served alongside were topped with crumbled feta – a Greek take on cheese fries, if you will. I thought it was a nice touch.
Overall, Melanthio’s was a strong find. The atmosphere has that slightly rustic feel that often gets lost among Chicago’s brightly lit, trendy spots, yet it was still young and lively. It was exactly what I imagine it wants to be – an authentic yet accessible Greek place that has a place in a decidedly American neighborhood.
I think you should:
Try it. I haven’t been to Greek Town so I can’t compare the food to what you would find there. But for a lot of people, this location is way more convenient.
Go with: A big group. There was a bachelorette party right behind me, and they raved about how perfect the location was.
Wear: Something slightly trendy. The neighborhood around Melanthio’s is casual, but the restaurant itself felt a bit dressier.
Go on a: Friday night. It’s open relatively late (my meal was over at midnight.)
Order the: Gyro platter. The meat is flavorful without being overly gamey. I didn’t even need to use the pita that came on the side; the meat didn’t need to be toned down with starch.
3114 N. Broadway St.
Chicago, IL 60657.