I've recently become convinced that every cuisine on earth produces some sort of taco. In late March, I spent two weeks in Oman, located on the Arabian peninsula. One morning, my wife, my cousin and my two sons woke up extra-early to get to the nearby souk to see donkeys and other animals be auctioned off. While buyers congregated around the livestock, I spotted a puff of smoke emerging from a trailer in the parking lot and quickly made my way over. The smoke was coming from skewers of beef being grilled over a narrow trough of glowing coals. For about $1, the man manning the trailer tossed a skewer of meat inside a pita, dressed it with some cabbage and hot sauce and wrapped it up tight. Voilà. Taco. Even if that's not what they called it.
I'm pondering this synergy when my wife and I stop for lunch at All Greek, a casual Hellenic eatery that opened in a Bradenton strip mall earlier this year. Near the front of the counter, two vertical spits of meat slowly rotate in front of glowing heating elements. As the exterior of the meat chars, fat drips down the glistening exterior. The meat on the left is a combination of beef and lamb; on the right, pork. Those meats (chicken is an option, too) go into the restaurant's excellent pitas ($8.50), which also contain tzatsiki, sliced red onions and tomatoes, and French fries. Bigger than a taco, certainly, but in the same universe.
The beef and lamb combo is very tasty, but it's the juicy pork, much of it pork belly, that sings. Spyros Marinos, who opened the restaurant with Brandon Kern, is manning the counter today. He says pork is the more traditional pita-stuffer in Greece, which makes a lot of sense, considering how good All Greek's meat is.
If you can pry your eyes off the spit, you'll find the menu doesn't stop at pita. A terrific Greek salad ($6.99-$9.99) is made with no lettuce—just tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green peppers, Kalamata olives, feta, salt and oregano, and topped with red wine vinegar and a fragrant olive oil. For $3.99, you can add meat to the salad, which perhaps defeats the purpose of eating a salad, but is a smart choice anyway. The restaurant also serves a couple pizzas and burgers and a handful of sandwiches, plus sweet crêpes and baklava for dessert.
One more hot tip: The restaurant will deliver food to Good Liquid Brewing Company, a microbrewery that opened in the same strip late last year. Stop in for a cold one, dial up All Greek and settle in for a transformative experience.
All Greek, 4816 14th St. W., Bradenton, (941) 751-4733, allgreek.menu. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday.