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Lunch, Anyone? Saloniki Greek

Delicious, budget-friendly Greek food in Fenway

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Few Boston neighborhoods have experienced a culinary transformation like that of the Fenway. Once the province mainly of sports bars, the area now boasts a number of different cuisines—seafood (Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar), barbecue (Sweet Cheeks), and Mexican (El Pelon Taqueria). With the recent arrival of Saloniki Greek, the neighborhood has added fresh Mediterranean fare to its roster.

The fast-casual counter-style Greek restaurant, which opened last month, is the latest venture by well-known Boston restaurateur Jody Adams. A James Beard Award–winning chef and former competitor on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Adams is best known for Rialto in Harvard Square and Trade in the Seaport District.

Saloniki is something altogether different, a laid-back sandwich shop serving fresh Greek sandwiches, salads, and grain bowls—all at affordable prices. Adams teamed up with CEO Eric Papachristos (who grew up in the northern Greece city of Thessaloniki, hence the restaurant’s name) and COO Jonathan Mendez to create her latest restaurant.

We stopped by recently for lunch, looking forward to trying some of Saloniki’s “new Greek” dishes. We weren’t sure what to expect, but were immediately put at ease—Saloniki is basically a Greek-food version of Chipotle, just across the street.

Even though it had been open only 20 minutes when we got there, a decent-size crowd already filled the 75-seat restaurant. Luckily the line moved quickly, and we were soon at the counter.

Saloniki’s menu is divided into build-your-own and preassembled options. We decided to try one of each. We chose the George ($10.50)—a classic pita wrap with spicy lamb meatballs, a choice of two sauces (we opted for spicy whipped feta and tzatziki), Greek fries, tomatoes, and onions—and a build-your-own plate ($8 to $9), which comes with brown rice, one protein or vegetable (choices are zucchini-feta fritters, honey-garlic braised pork shoulder, lemon-oregano chicken, spicy lamb meatballs, and pomegranate-glazed roasted eggplant—we chose the fritters), garlic yogurt sauce, broken olive tapenade, tomatoes, and onions. For dessert we went for the classic Greek baklava crisps ($4).

Saloniki Boston Fenway

The George, a pita wrap filled with spicy lamb meatballs, spicy whipped feta sauce, tzatziki sauce, Greek fries, tomatoes, and onions, along with baklava crisps for dessert, made for a mouth-watering, classic Greek meal.

Diners have the option of building their own salad ($8 to $9) of super greens, one protein or vegetable, tomatoes, onions, crumbled feta, and Saloniki’s secret dressing. The restaurant also offers a classic Greek soup called Yiayia’s soup, made with white beans, preserved lemon, and herb salad ($4).

Everything we ordered was delicious. The sandwich’s spicy lamb meatballs were packed with flavor, yet the spices weren’t overwhelming, and the whipped feta sauce was creamy, bright, and tasty. All of the ingredients were fresh and flavorful. The Greek fries (think flat french fries) added a welcome crunch to the dish, all served on a warm pita.

The zucchini-feta fritters plate was equally good. The garlic yogurt sauce added a tangy hint to the dish, and the fritters were crunchy outside, gooey inside. The rice was fluffy, and everything on the plate worked well together.

As for the dessert, the baklava crisps (three decent-size squares) had a flaky filo crust, a smooth pistachio and walnut filling, and a delicious honey drizzle on top. They were a fitting end to our new Greek meal.

The restaurant’s décor is obviously inspired by Greece—bright, airy, and open with wooden tables, faux-marble countertops, vases of white orchids, and light blue walls. Large black-and-white photographs of Greece taken by Adams’ husband are on the walls. There are three separate seating areas, plus a 50-seat patio destined to make Saloniki especially popular in late spring and summer.

In addition to the excellent food, the servers are pleasant and eager to answer questions, the prices student-friendly, and the portions large enough to leave diners feeling comfortably full.

Saloniki Greek, 4 Kilmarnock St., Boston, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; phone: 617-266-0001. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Kenmore and walk.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.

Jennifer Bates can be reached at jennb7@bu.edu.

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