Acropolis, Greek Taverna is a Greek restaurant group with locations in Ybor City, New Tampa, St. Petersburg, Riverview, South Tampa, and Sarasota. The founder, Sam Waez, actually grew up in Greece as the youngest of eight children. Growing up he worked at his older brother’s restaurant, before heading to the United States with “a bag and a dream”. He opened the doors of the first Acropolis Greek Tavera in 2001. (Read more on their website).
Since then, Acropolis has expanded to the six locations listed above and has become a fixture of the Tampa restaurant scene. The locations are lively, often featuring live belly dancers, the occasional plate-throwing, and periodic napkin throwing that leaves the floor littered with what appears to be over-sized confetti. So whether you are enjoying dinner in the Ybor City dining room, taking in a drink on the fire-pit ladened patio in South Tampa, or grabbing something to go in Sarasota, this will be a restaurant experience like no other.
The menu is large and somewhat intimidating, but follow this guide to have a traditional Greek dining experience…with a twist!
Imbibing is certainly not required, but if you plan on hanging out at Acropolis for a lengthy dinner (which is highly suggested), then you probably want to start with an adult beverage. There is a daily happy hour from 3 pm to 7 pm, but if you want to enjoy a later meal consider visiting on Martini Mondays for $5 martinis, or Wine Wednesdays for half off all wines, bottles, and glasses. If none of that particularly appeals to you, definitely go for the Sangria. For a Greek restaurant, Acropolis does this Spanish cocktail right! So grab a pitcher of Sangria for your table and start out the meal with this sweet, fruity drink.
Unlike the drinks, appetizers here are definitely required. Namely, because they are so damn good. The Ouzo Mussels are always a great choice; sautéed mussels with garlic, onions, basil, fresh tomato, Ouzo, and Santorini wine. Served with deliciously charred garlic bread, you cannot go wrong. But the real star here is the Tirosalata. A delectable blend of feta cheese and garlic, topped with oregano and extra virgin olive oil, it is so good that no one would judge you if you wind up licking the bowl. They are simple flavors but combined the right way to make something magical. Make sure to order extra pita triangles right from the start – you are going to need them.
Whether you choose to enjoy it as an entrée or a second appetizer, the Horiatiki salad should not be missed. This salad is a traditional Greek village salad, which means there actually isn’t any lettuce in it at all! Instead, it consists of roughly chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, pepperoncini, and green pepper. With capers, olives, fresh oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. The whole thing is topped with a huge slice of feta cheese and some oven toasted pita strips on the side. If you really want to turn this salad into something special, ask to have it topped with gyro meat.
This is where we really get into traditional Greek food. The menu offers everything from Mousaka to a whole grilled red snapper. Everything is good, but a few menu items are truly great. The Mixed Grill is an amazing choice, especially if you are feeding a crowd. In fact, the menu itself states that it feeds four people! It comes with a shish kabob, a chicken kabob, a vegetable kabob, pork souvlaki, and gyro. The whole thing comes with a side of tzatziki and a choice of two sides. Well, really one side, because one of those choices absolutely has to be the Greek fries.
If you don’t happen to be feeding a crowd, opt for the Gyro Platter. You will get to try their fantastic thinly sliced spiced lamb and beef along with a side of the refreshing tzatziki. The platter also comes with pita. Greek fries, and a salad.
If you are curious about staff picks, then take some advice from Sam Waez, the chef/co-founder/managing partner of Acropolis Greek Taverna. When the Sarasota Herald-Tribune asked him what his signature dishes are, here is what he said:
“The Chicken Rhodes with salted chicken, lemon, wine, artichokes, olives, fresh spinach and goat cheese; the Acropolis Seafood, the sauce is house-made served over ice with scallops, shrimp, mussels and a roasted pepper sauce; and the Makedonikos, similar to jambalaya, with seafood sausage, shrimp, chicken, and a tomato-based sauce with fresh basil, cilantro and garlic.” (source).
Dining at Acropolis can range from takeout to a full evening of entertainment. If you decide to spend some time in the dining room, be prepared for live music and periodic cocktail napkin tossing as the entire staff dances through the restaurant shouting “Opa!”. Acropolis also has a Hookah menu, if you really want to take your night to the next level.
Hookah is an elaborate looking smoking instrument that uses hot coals to heat up tobacco that then smokes and is inhaled through a valve on a hose. It can be a relaxing, shared experience before or after dinner. Hookah usually comes with flavored tobacco, and at Acropolis, you have a choice of mint, blueberry mint, orange mint, lemon mint, grape mint, double apple, strawberry, and watermelon.
The one thing you do not want to do in a place like Acropolis is going in blind. The menu is extensive and the environment is hectic in a way that only a traditional Greek restaurant can be. If you have a plan based on the recommendations listed above, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic, memorable lunch or dinner. Keep in mind that the portions are huge, so take care to not let your eyes grow larger than your stomach. Once you have got all of that down, sit back and enjoy the scents, flavors, and sounds of Greece, all without leaving Tampa Bay!