EATinton logo: Fred Kalil
Frederick Kalil reviews

You’re likely aware of the taqueria that opened earlier this year in East Arlington from reading about it in The Boston Globe or from chatter on social media. Now two Greek places have arrived in town as well.

Starting with dessert

Greek Habits by Eva, in Arlington Center, at first glance appears to be another zaharoplasteion, or sweet shop. But walk in, and you’ll also see savory wares such as individual spanakopitas of generous proportions and phyllo pitas stuffed with chicken and mushrooms. Additional menu items to include entrée specials are planned to be introduced. There is plenty here in the meantime, including, yes, sweets that evidence the touch of artistry, plus something less translatable — meraki.

An extensive selection of traditional pastries includes several kinds of baklava, egg-custard-filled galaktoboureko, karitopita (spiced walnut cake), ravani (semolina cake), portokalopita (orange cake), kourambiedes (almond cookies), plus baklava cheesecake and a number of gorgeous-looking European-style desserts. Food is prepared at the establishment’s parent location in Peabody by owner Dora Nikolakakos’s sister Eva — culinary mastermind behind all the impressively photogenic goods on display.

Sandwiches, crepes with choice of filling (including an option of bougatsa cream, a milk custard filling used in the eponymous dessert) and salads are available. Chowhounds who’ve acquired a taste for mastiha, or mastic gum, will be pleased to see it represented among the refrigerated beverages along with a mastiha latte featured among the hot drinks. Thankfully, Greek coffee also is on the menu, plus the type of frappé familiar from Greek festivals: ice blended with instant Nescafé into a frothy refreshment. A few tables offer seating for those disinclined to restrain themselves until they get home to dig in.

It’s yee-ro, not jy-ro, you fathead!

Following a long wait (mine), The Fat Greek (never trust a skinny chef?) has opened at last in East Arlington next door to Arlington Bakery (which, I’m compelled to interject, bakes a fine spanakopita).

The star attraction at TFG is the real-deal gyro: your choice of chicken, pork, or beef-and-lamb -- or “The Fat Greek” combining all three. None of that prefab stuff from these guys, as you can see from the revolving spits on the opposite side of the counter. As is customary, the fries are loaded into your pita together with meat(s), onion, tomato and tzatziki (Greek yogurt, garlic, cucumber). Though the authentic pork is my usual gyro go-to and did not fail to satisfy, I must opine that the nicely seasoned lamb-and-beef gyro edges it out as top recommendation.

The good Greek salad dressing is house made, as is the signature “fat sauce” that appears to play nice with the chicken gyro. As expected when eating Mediterranean, vegetarians are well looked after; hummus and especially the zippy tirokafteri dip (roasted red pepper, feta, yogurt) both left a favorable impression.

Checking in on the Salvadorans

One afternoon when the gyro rotisseries were at rest, I wandered back to Quilo’s Taqueria for a return visit. If you were among those who stood in line when the spot first opened, you might reasonably have wondered what the fuss was about. If, on the other hand, you happen to just pop in for a plate of honest and unassuming Salvadoran food, you could be pleasantly surprised. A Mexican taqueria this is not; hot sauces tend to the milder side, and my initial impression on the basis of trying a pupusa, a birria and a sampling of tacos had me scanning the menu for something with more assertive flavors.

More recently, I sampled the chicharrones and plantains with a side of combined beans and rice. No surprises: The items fulfilled their promise to provide a comforting fix for a fried-food craving and another one for black beans. On the plate was included a refreshingly crunchy cabbage salad with a hint of spiciness. Seeing the fried plantains additionally beckoned me into submitting to an order of those.

While firmer within than their browned exterior led me to expect, they paired fetchingly with the accompanying sour cream for dipping. Fine, I thought — I’ll go for the flan, too! Sadly, it was disappointingly granular and dense. But I don’t give up easily and will be back; there is still a lot more to the menu to try.

Greek Habits by Eva

478 Mass. Ave.

781-859-5344

Wednesday through Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Website to come

The Fat Greek

185 Mass. Ave.

781-777-2108

Monday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m.

thefatgreekusa.com

Quilo’s Taqueria

162 Mass. Ave.

781-648-0005

Open seven days, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

quilostaqueria.com


Feb. 29, 2024: Resistance is futile; Arlingtonians flock to local Tatte

This review by YourArlington freelancer Frederick Kalil was published Friday, May 17, 2024.

A resident of Arlington, Kalil has been eating food since birth. Starting from a home in which family cuisine ranged from kibbeh to cretons, he has sought high standards and a world of flavor at his own table and when dining out. After years of writing about dining options for the neighboring Tufts community, he now explores local kitchens for his fellow Arlingtonians.