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Cheap eats: European Market & Deli

Citizen Staff Writer
Cheap eats: European Market & Deli



What: European Market & Deli

Address and phone: 4500 E. Speedway, 512-0206

Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays – Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays

What was ordered: Cabbage Rolls ($6.99), Gyro ($6.99), Baklava ($2) and two soft drinks (75 cents each) for a total of $18.90, within our Cheap Eats goal of a meal for two for less than $20.

Comments: For whatever reason, Olga and the rest of the friendly yet direct folks at this always interesting market and deli steer customers pretty hard toward the Greek fare these days.

The only item written on the menu board that wasn’t Greek (Ukrainian-style Greek is probably more apt) reads “sandwich with cold cuts.” Thing is, nothing in the deli case on two recent visits had been sliced or even opened for that matter, and when I asked for suggestions on what would be good European cold cuts for a sandwich, I was told both times that I should order the Gyro, so I ordered the Gyro ($6.99).

A hot, fresh, spongy pita was piled a good 3 inches high with tomatoes, onions, iceberg lettuce and excellent tzatziki sauce, topped with three large slices of gyro beef. There’s no slow-spinning rotisserie in the place, but for outsourced, presliced gyro beef, it actually was pretty darn good. If there’s a bigger gyro being served in this town, I have yet to find it. It looked a little like a Topopo salad built on a pita.

The Cabbage Rolls ($6.99), though they were missing the strafing of tomato sauce (the way they’re normally served here), made for a mild, comfortable repast. The softly rendered orbs of pork and white rice enveloped by the supple cabbage were gentle on flavor and texture. Though the tomato sauce would have considerably perked things up, the soothing, home-style version was just the ticket this day.

We had more than enough left in the Cheap Eats budget of $20 to order the Baklava. It’s obviously refrigerated here, rather than left at room temperature. When asked if we wanted it hot or cold, we went with hot, knowing full well that the finicky phyllo layers might suffer a little in the microwave. The diminutive pair of triangles were quietly good. The sweetness had been nicely kept in check, and the pistachios had been hand-chopped to just the right size. For my taste, the nuts in baklava filling are often left too large or puréed too small in a processor into a butter or sorts. The market’s version showed a nice homemade touch, one that seems to work best with the nectar and phyllo.

I usually pass on the baklava here because there are so many tempting varieties of European chocolate and other goodies on the shelves. There’s also a staggering variety of European sausage and meats, farmer’s cheese (mascot and co-owner Olga says the market has the best selection of the stuff in the state) and scores of other interesting goodies, beer, wine and CCCP-era memorabilia.

Given the friendly service, the decent homemade Greek fare and treasure trove of goodies and oddities in the market, it’s hard to leave this funky, midtown gem with anything less than a decidedly non-Socialist smile on your face.

Service: Order at the counter, take a seat in the small dining room in the rear of the market, and a server brings your order.

Bar: Beer, wine and vodka, lots of vodka

Children’s menu: No

Web site: No

Most recent health inspection: An “Excellent” rating May, 25, 2005 (though four years ago is hardly recent, in my book). No critical violations were reported, and the establishment has scored excellent on its previous four inspections dating to Dec 18, 2003.

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