During World War I, Greek immigrant Louis Pappas served in the Army as a personal chef to General John Pershing. To give the hungry general some extra nutrition, Louis began adding scoops of potato salad to his traditional greek salads. When Louis returned to the United States, he opened up his own restaurant, Louis Pappas Riverside Café, where he would re-create this signature dish using fresh produce from his own ranch in Tarpon Springs.
Today, Louis Pappas's grandson continues his grandfather's old Florida family tradition at Pappas Ranch. There, he and his kitchen serve up a new menu of fresh seafood, poultry, sandwiches, street tacos, hand-cut steaks, and barbecue dishes whose "family flair" has been lauded by Metromix Tampa Bay. They continue to scoop savory housemade potato salad into their internationally renowned Louis Pappas Famous greek salad, tossing it in massive bowls that serve as many as four diners. Bartenders dole out glasses of locally brewed craft beers and wine or mix cocktails and martinis at the full center bar with flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant's decor channels that of the original Pappas family ranch. In the dining room, spacious booths are surrounded by rustic wooden walls, and outside is a covered outdoor patio.
John Pappas didn’t know much English when he first arrived on American soil, but he did know the secrets of cooking excellent Greek cuisine. The native Greek passed on his recipes and expert techniques to his son Nicholas, who would go on to open his own Mediterranean restaurant—Greek City Cafe.
Deep in his restaurant’s kitchen, Nicholas and his chefs fold juicy meats and fresh vegetables into a variety of Greek-inspired paninis, wraps, and salads. They layer pitas with juicy slices of shaved lamb and beef before adding dollops of flavorful tzatziki and creamy greek dressing. To craft specialty pizzas, the chefs shower soft pita shells in mixed cheeses, diced tomatoes, and grilled chicken. When discussing these dishes with a reporter from Westchase Patch, Nicholas explained, “We take a mainstream item and put a Greek twist to it. I make them feel comfortable, but when they taste it they realize they've never experienced that flavor.”
In the casual dining room, where sunlight streams onto soft blue and green walls, guests can linger over their last bites of these inventive eats before ordering desserts such as baklava. Countertop seating surrounds a lush olive tree in the center of the room, which was imported from Greece and lives off of sunlight and Greek wine.
Belwood’s Irish Pub has a way of making guests feel lucky. Lucky enough, in some cases, to attempt the pub’s notorious Atomic Wing Challenge, which requires one to polish off a plate of blazingly hot Atomic wings in 10 minutes or less. Such a feat earns its conqueror a $25 paid tab and a photo on the Atomic wall of fame. If the wings prove too daunting, there’s always a menu of burgers, sandwiches, fried appetizers, and salads to appease all types of cravings.
If you’re hunting for gold at Belwood’s, it’s best not to look for the familiar shapes of coins. Check the bar, however, and you’ll find 16 draft beers pouring into frosty pint glasses. These glasses clink together in celebration of a well-thrown dart, a pocketed eight ball, or a touchdown displayed on one of the pub’s television.
Stelios Migdakis had long dreamt of moving his family from New York to Florida’s sun-drenched shores, jumping at the chance to open an eatery in Tarpon Springs’ Greek Town. He draws from the Old World recipes of his kin in Crete and his wife's relatives in Lesvos to compose a menu consisting of delicately battered seafood and slow-roasted lamb and beef. Within the elegant eatery, murals of serene Greek isles and grazing herds of Trojan horses punctuate the pale-marble walls as Greek music spills out onto the adjoining patio.
At @Café, cappuccinos, café cubanos, and other classic, steamy sips made with Italian-imported Lavazza beans accompany European-style sandwiches and decadently topped dessert vaffles. Nosh tosts or croissants loaded with sweet or salty stuffing—Nutella or peanut butter fill sweet sandwiches, and ham, cheese, and salami can be mixed, matched, or monster mashed inside salty bites. A euro-style dessert vaffle, which differs from a regular waffle only by a single chromosome, comes crowned with a single topping. Pairs linger to surf freely flowing WiFi in @Café's spacious interior, lit by bright orange accent walls in the daytime and a blue neon glow during after-dark hours.
Zante Cafe crafts a culinary collage of Cajun, Creole, Italian, Greek, and French flavors, fresh to order, in its inviting familial atmosphere. Reward your mouth for years of service by decorating it with medallions of louisiana crab cakes ($7.99 at lunch; $9 at dinner), which are sidekicked by creole rémoulade. The frog legs sauce piquant find their princely place on plates after smothered in fresh herbs, deglazed with wine, kissed with lemon juice, and kickboxed by an archduke ($10.99 lunch; $19 dinner). Or uncover the gastronomic character of the Mediterranean shores by sampling tangles of pasta primavera ($7.99 lunch; $15 dinner), or, if dining for lunch, commemorate baby Hercules's first medicine ball exercise with a bulbous gyro pita ($8.99). Guests can then feel free to cap off an evening meal—such as the French-faring rib eye with sauce au poivre ($23)—with a sweet serving of bananas foster ($8).