“Opa!” cries the staff of Acropolis Greek Taverna as white paper napkins are tossed with abandon into the dining room atmosphere.
It’s Saturday night on the infamous 7th Avenue of Ybor City, but I’ve steered clear of the typical nightclub scene to find a more cultured taste of this historic district.
The main entrance opens into a room with a vaulted ceiling, painted and illuminated to resemble a brilliant blue sky with clouds.
Partial columns hang from above, a clear nod to that famous piece of Grecian architecture. Loud music plays overhead and parties scattered around the room hold lively discussions.
A walk into the adjacent dining room reveals a large, semi-circle bar demanding full attention and a staircase leading to a loft with more seating.
I am seated promptly on the lower level, near the window, allowing me a view to the scene beyond.
Taking advantage of the outdoor seating offered by a restaurant on a street corner, many of the clientele sit and smoke Hookah, gazing at the parade of the scantily clad stumbling past.
One couple, more heavily clothed, enjoys a game of chess enhanced by the glasses of wine sitting on their table.
The waitress appears with my raspberry iced tea, and I order the Spinach Dip, which she claims is excellent.
It certainly was different. Served with huge slices of crispy lavash bread that have been garnished with tomatoes, the dip was spinach and artichoke in a base of white cheddar cheese and was creamier than I have ever had before.
This was perhaps due to the large dollop of tiroslata, a sour cream-like dressing on top.
While tasty, it was very filling and could have made my whole meal for the evening.
However, I had already ordered my entrée.The Psari Mahi Mahi arrived full of promise and color.
The blackened fish, covered in pesto and spicy red peppers, was full of flavor and looked just as good as it tasted, the cajun spices giving it a punch without being overwhelming.
The orzo and sundried tomatoes were prepared well, also with a little kick to them.
The grilled vegetables consisting of squash and zucchini had been grilled a bit past their prime and were too well-done for my taste, with the added disappointment that they weren’t hot, only warm.
The fish and the orzo, however, had come at just the right temperature.
Filled to the brim with the large appetizer and hearty main dish, I avoided the dessert menu for that evening, but they do offer a wide variety of selections to please the sweet tooth, including, of course, baklava.
Ending the meal took longer than it really should, because getting the check and paying for it were delayed in each step, clear evidence that the service, though friendly, was spread over a crowd larger than they could handle.
A few extra smiling faces would have made for a more expedient experience.
Overall, dining at Acropolis was a delightful glimpse into a classier side of Ybor.
If you go, remember that to park in the City of Tampa Garage, the most well-lit and safest place, you must bring cash to pay the fee.
They do not accept credit, debit, or personal checks. And from this author’s experience, forgetting this simple nuance can lead to a headache later on.
Moriah Parrish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.