Plain and simple Greek cuisine makes Chris’ Taverna in Lake Worth an Olympus of dining

Chris’ Taverna is in a strip mall at Jog and Lantana Road.

Nothing fancy on the menu, nor in the decor, at this popular strip mall eatery where patrons line up nightly to dine on food that is largely tasty, amply portioned, and reasonably priced.

By Alan J. Wax

There’s no denying the popularity of Chris’ Taverna, the Greek restaurant that’s been operating in a Lake Worth strip mall for nearly two decades.

We’ve avoided going there for years because of what we heard were long waits for tables and its no-reservation policy. Never mind that my wife is not a fan of Greek cuisine.

So, we figured, let’s use an early evening during the off-season to give it a try.

After venturing there on a recent Saturday, we found diners at the restaurant at Jog and Lantana Roads were queuing up for tables as early as 5:30 p.m. and by 7 p.m., as we left, the line was out the door. (There’s a second, smaller Chris’ Taverna in Boynton Beach that opened its doors in 2012, but friends say they prefer the older sibling.)

Chris’ Taverna’s sprawling dining room at lunch time.

It’s a sprawling place with seating for 40 outside beneath a deep-blue canopy and huge umbrellas. And another 120 can sit inside in a dining room that bears a striking resemblance to a Greek diner decked out with acoustical tile ceiling, hanging fans, and Greek “artwork” on the walls. Servers, mostly women attired in black pants and tops, scurry back and forth. Soon after we were seated three separate servers asked for our drink orders.

Chef-founder Chris Charoudis, who now is 50, started the business in 2004, according to a report in the Sun-Sentinel. He moved from Greece to Florida when he was 16 and four years later owned two Miami Subs franchises but got out of Miami Subs as the brand lost its luster. Charoudis’ family members, including brothers Mike and Vassilis work in the business.

Like its decor, there’s nothing fancy about the Chris’ Taverna menu, which is laminated page after laminated page of basic Greek dishes: gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, spanakopita, and lamb shanks, to name a few.  

Gyro Wrap.

I’d gone once before, for lunch. No lines. And enjoyed a Gyro Wrap ($15,95), served with fresh tzatziki and a side of Greek salad, (fries were the alternative) and a soft drink. The meat, a flavorful combination of lamb and beef cut from roasts turning on four spits near the front of the open kitchen, was piled high in a pita and slathered with a zesty tzatziki sauce. It was enough to want to make me return.

So we did, for dinner this time with friends in tow.

Soon after placing our order, our server delivered two pieces of warm pita triangles and a mound of tzatziki for each diner. 

Some dishes proved exceptional. Others, less so.

I started with the octopus appetizer ($20.95) as my entree. Octopus, supposedly, is Chris’ unofficial signature dish. I received a platter of three grilled skinny tentacles surrounded by slices of bright red tomatoes, cool cucumbers, black olives, and spicy pepperoncini. (It was also available for $25.95 atop a Greek salad.) My serving, however, was a tad dry, perhaps from too long a stay on the grill and its narrow gauge. And, it had an unexpected slightl flavor of the sea.

Lamb chops.

Grilled octopus appetizer.

Side Greek salad.

Pita and tzatziki.

On the other hand, lamb chops, which are the second-priciest item on the menu at $36.95 (a Greek grilled meat combination platter cost $38.95), arrived deeply hued with darker char marks. They were tender and flavorful, but it seemed like they were ungainly plated — just unceremoniously dumped on the plate.

A friend enjoyed a large portioned grilled chicken plate ($24.95 with two sides). I found it overly dry. Perhaps, some sauce might have perked it up. 

One side dish — baked lemon potatoes — did liven things up, however. What appeared to be two halved potatoes arrived in a bowl swimming in a pool of flavorful lemon-garlic sauce. Too much for one diner.

Another side, the Greek salad, was crisp and fresh, providing a cool contrast to the warm entrees as well as various textures and flavors. With a touch of vinegar, it also enlivened the hot main dishes.  My wife, however, said more dressing was needed.

And to wash it all down, the obvious choice would be wine. But with so much good Greek wine being imported into the U.S. these days, you can’t help but wonder why the restaurant’s wine list was limited to three whites, a rose, and two reds.  One of my companions asked our server if the Zoe Red ($7.75 glass/$25.95 a bottle) was similar to Merlot and was told, “Yes, it’s Merlot.”  Wrong. It was 90 percent Agiorgitiko (a native Greek grape) and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The other red choice was Naoussa Xinomavro ($9.95 a glass. $35.95 a bottle), a red grape native to Greece. White choices included Hatzimichalis Chardonnay from Central Greece ($9.95 a glass, $35,95 a bottle) and a Zoe White, a blend of Roditis and Moscofilero grapes from the Peloponnese region ($7.95 a glass, $25.95 a bottle). However, another white, Assettiko, whose brand name seemed invisible on the menu, proved to be a crisp wine from a native Greek white grape. For those who care to bring their own, there’s a $9.95 corkage fee. If you’re into wine, it’s an option worth considering.

Chris’ Taverna, overall is worth considering, too, if you dine at an off hour or don’t mind the wait. With a range of tasty offerings and careful ordering, you’ll leave sated.

Chris’ Taverna

6338 Lantana Rd., Lake Worth, FL  33463

(561) 964-4233

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  1. Anne D says:

    Great review Alan! Chris’ Traverna has always been one of our go to restaurants. We’ve had amazing meals there, and we’ve some not so special. My husband loves the lamb chops, usually they are amazing & occasionally they’re just okay. Their Greek salads are excellent, always fresh, as is the tzatziki sauce & pitas. Gyro wraps & platters & Greek salads are my faves along with spanakopita and a few others on my go . Disappointment
    is not on the menu! Enjoy!

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