Plaka Estiatorio has one of the best Greek wine lists in Seattle. Located just off Market Street in Ballard, it has a friendly, lively atmosphere (although it is quieter at lunch), with a wide array of delicious menu selections. If you are lucky enough to secure a seat at the bar, you can watch the kitchen staff preparing one mouth-watering item after another. Some of dishes even require flaming pans, which makes the bar seats that much more entertaining.
The wine list is filled with a wide selection of Greek wines; most of them are made from traditional native Greek varietals, but there are also a few made from French varietals such as a Greek Chardonnay and a Greek Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course, the famous (or infamous) Retsina is also available – flavored with Aleppo pine resin, it is a bit of an acquired taste, and they have five or so different examples of it. I enjoyed the very pleasant house red, which is the Tsantalis Rouge, made from Xinomavro and Moschomavro grapes – it paired very nicely to lamb and gyro dishes.
The food at Plaka is excellent – I have been there many times and it is difficult to find something that isn’t an experience. Their pitas are unique in that they are deliciously soft and fluffy, rather than the more typical dry version. Try the oven-roasted spring lamb, the gyro platter, or one of the daily house specials, which, on my last visit, was whole fried fish. It’s great to sit at the bar and watch the plates being prepared, to help make your menu selection.
Plaka is family-friendly, but it also has a nice atmosphere for lunch or dinner dates. It can get pretty crowded and noisy on weekend nights, which is when you should probably call ahead and reserve a table. That being said, the service is still prompt and friendly – the staff seems to love a busy house!
What Stands Out? The selection of Greek wines is one of the best in the city, with all of them being available to sample by the glass.
For more info: Plaka Estiatorio, 5407 20th Avenue NW, Seattle WA 98107. (206) 829-8934. www.plakaballard.com. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30am-3pm, Sat 12-5pm. Dinner Tue-Sat 5-10pm.