Anyone who enjoys dining out in Utah has seen how badly the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged our neighborhood eateries. Local institutions have ended decades-long runs, and we've seen hotshot upstarts burn out before they could even get their feet on the ground. Amid this catastrophe, however, we're also starting to see formerly-closed restaurants rally their strength and reopen. It's a thought-provoking lesson in persistence to walk into a restaurant like The Local Greek (1764 W. 5400 South, 801-996-3042, thelocalgreek.com), whose team recently reopened after closing doors on their Riverton location earlier this year. Like a gastronomic phoenix, this locally-owned fast-casual Greek and Mediterranean restaurant has reemerged—and it's better than ever.
Owned and operated by the Patmides family, The Local Greek quickly became a lunchtime favorite when its Riverton location opened a few years ago. Outside of the fact that this neighborhood joint was the only place you could get a decent gyro in the Riverton/Herriman area, it quickly became a place that welcomed regulars and newcomers alike. Its closure tells the tale of many neighborhood restaurants that provided the vital combo of good food and good company that our local communities desperately need. Its new location in Taylorsville hopes to recreate that communal magic for its new audience and, based on my most recent visit, I'd say it's off to a good start.
Quite unintentionally, I visited The Local Greek on National Gyro Day; my internal food radar must have simply felt it in the air. I went with the lamb gyro ($10) and an order of galaktoboureko ($6), and found a spot to reflect on the restaurant's new digs. I couldn't help but feel like the Patmides family and their team used the closure as an opportunity to reinvent the place just a bit. It remains a casual eatery, but the recessed booths—bedazzled with framed photos of the Patmides clan on their many travels—and Mediterranean aesthetic do an admirable job of transporting diners to a coastal café.
Gyros at The Local Greek definitely look the part—seasoned strips of lamb, fresh tomato, red onion and a healthy dollop of tzatziki stuffed inside warm pita bread—but it was the addition of fries that caught my attention. I'm not sure I've ever had a gyro stuffed with fries, but I had zero problems with this preparation. These are the kind of accidentally-perfect fries that you have likely had at some point in your life—browned to perfection with plenty of crunch around the edges. On this gyro, they completely come to life. The lamb and tzatziki are also near perfection—it's as fine an example of this classic Greek dish that one can get in these parts.
The foundational elements of The Local Greek's gyro also make up the other items on the lunch menu. You can get these well-prepared items in a rice bowl ($10), a salad bowl ($10) or a souvlaki platter ($11). You can't really go wrong since the available proteins—chicken, pork or lamb—are prepared with such delectable skill, but I have to say the salad bowl is an unexpected win. It's prepared with crisp veggies, but the olives and thick cubes of feta cheese really make this stand out as an option for someone trying to cut down on their carbs. Also, the lemon rice that comes in the rice bowl or as a side in the souvlaki brings a welcome dose of citrus wherever it ends up on your plate.
In addition to its main menu, The Local Greek also prides itself on its baking chops—diners can end their meals with sweet treats like baklava ($6), loukoumades ($7) or my new favorite to eat and say out loud, the galaktoboureko ($6). I respect the simplicity of traditional Greek desserts; there's not much to them, but each ingredient has a chance to really knock your socks off if you let it happen. The crisp, caramelized envelope of phyllo dough surrounding chopped nuts soaked in syrup that makes baklava so beloved is front and center at The Local Greek—fans of this dessert won't be disappointed. You also can't go wrong with the spongy, doughnut-like balls of joy that are loukoumades. But as I devoured my generous portion of galaktoboureko, I became quickly enamored at the balance of textures between the laminated exterior and the custardy interior. Imagine a good bread pudding mixed with a Dutch baby pancake and you're getting somewhere near the experience. This one is something special.
With some new digs at its disposal and a new neighborhood to impress, The Local Greek seems to be making all the right moves thus far. Its menu remains packed with Greek favorites that can stack up to any other Mediterranean place in town, and its social media pages are abuzz with new events, menu items and other fun things to look forward to. Second chances are a rarity, but the team at The Local Greek seems to be savoring every moment of this reinvention—now is a great time for fans of Greek food to pay them a visit and do likewise.