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ALL GREEK TO THE TRIAD

by Daniel Schere

daniel@yesweekly.com | @Daniel_Schere

If you’re looking for authentic Greek food in the Triad there is one place, actually three, that will leave you with much more than the traditional gyro pita most joints that pretend to be Greek serve up. Athena Greek Taverna has been serving up meals made from scratch for 10 years.

While it would be easy to name any Greek restaurant after the country’s capital city, Athena’s name was the result of the beginning of a relationship that gave birth to the restaurant itself, explains co-owner Sophia Vgenopoulos.

“I was studying at Wake Forest in classics. In my junior year I took a semester, and I went to Athens, Greece, and when I was studying in Greece I met my husband,” she said. “And he was working in a dessert shop making crepes and his famous Baklava he learned to make in Athens. He brought that love of food with him. That’s why he did it.”

Sophia and her husband Yiannis opened their first location on South Stratford Road in 2004.

“The Stratford location we came across as we were just starting out,” Vgenopoulos said. “It was available. It needed a lot of work because it was an old barbecue place, and it took us a while to get it together. But it’s worked out well for us. That’s been a nice, nice neighborhood to be in.”

They then opened an express location in Clemmons, and a second full service location on Dec. 18 at 5652 University Parkway. The latest location from the outside appears to be a typical strip mall restaurant, but the inside offers the visitor a large, open sanctuary for dining and delighting. There is additional space in the back of the restaurant for large groups, and a private room that can host meetings or parties. This location also features a display case filled with desserts, which you might need a separate visit for depending on your meal.

Athena serves all of the Greek classics, so I went with the tried and true Moussaka “” a casserole of layered eggplant, meat, potatoes and Béchamel sauce. It comes with yellow rice and a Greek salad. I couldn’t think of a better meal to cap off such an eventful 2014, and my stomach agreed. This was the first meal I had had in a long time that truly filled me up and left me no room for dessert.

The charm of Athena is nothing new to Winston-Salem. Vgenopoulos said people from all over the state have frequented the restaurant and with some getting an exposure to true Greek cuisine for the first time.

“They know what they’re looking for, and they can only find it in a handful of places,” she said.

Vgenopoulos said their most popular nights are at the Stratford location on Tuesday nights when they have live music, along with weekends. She said they have a small online presence, but most of the clientele comes through word of mouth. !

WANNA go?

Athena Greek Taverna has two locations in Winston-Salem at 5652 University Parkway and 680 South Stratford Road. Athena Greek Pita Express is located at 2432 Lewisville-Clemmons Road in Clemmons.

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