Greeks believe that there are two people: Greeks and those who wish they were Greek. This statement even applies to restaurants. As a Greek-Italian American, I am constantly on the search for authentic Greek cuisine. Many restaurants across Broward County claim to be Greek, yet their food fails to take my taste buds back to my grandparents’ — yiayia and papou’s — kitchen.
However, My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, presumably named after the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, stands out among the crowd, serving items that could easily be mistaken for being made in a Santorini kitchen of an arthritis-stricken yiayia.
On a Saturday night, my family and I drove to My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, located at 3445 Griffin Road in Fort Lauderdale, to embark on a journey to our heritage. To begin the tour of the Mediterranean, hummus and freshly baked Greek bread tantalized our taste buds as hints of garlic and the unique texture of the chickpeas paraded through our mouths. Next, we ordered a round of avgolemono soup ($3), a chicken soup with a lemon broth. A thing of greatness, is the only description for this. Put another way, my mother, who grew up eating avgolemono soup made in her yiayai’s kitchen and is therefore overly critical about others’, tells everyone the avgolemono soup at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant is as close as it gets to yiayia’s soup. As any Greek knows, making food even closely comparable to yiayia’s cooking is no easy feat.
From here, the table became overwhelmed with delicious dishes. The keftedes ($8), or Greek equivalent of meatballs, were seared to lock in juices and flavor. Whole snapper (seasonal pricing), baked, served with Greek peas and potato wedges tasted as if it had jumped from the ocean, into the oven and onto my plate. The mouthwatering lamb kabobs ($30) were served off the skewer, with roasted onions and green peppers, over a bed of rice. The meat was perfectly seasoned and cooked exactly medium-rare. The stuffed peppers and tomatoes ($12) were filled with a Greek rice and beef mixture and served with vegetables and potatoes. Flavor oozed from every bite. For dessert, the rice pudding ($3) was sweet, yet not overpowering, and surprisingly light — exactly what you want after a heavy meal.
As if the outstanding meal was not enough, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are loud and exciting, just like the Greeks. The waiters and waitresses dance to traditional Greek music, and, if you catch him on a good night the owner will throw plates on the ground. Shouts of “opa!” can be heard throughout the entire restaurant. The entertainment does not end there. A belly dancer wanders through the restaurant, paying extra attention to those with dollars in their hands. On any given night you may even see a yiayia or two get up and join her. I know mine has on more than one occasion.
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant is not just for show. The walls are lined with murals of Santorini, traditional outfits, and keepsakes from Greece, and the food is scrumptious to the last bite. If you are looking for authentic, look no further than My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.
Christa is a junior communication studies major and a member of FitWell.