Yiota’s Greek Deli is hidden gem

Savannah Vasquez
The tiramisu was delicious and a good size for sharing. [SAVANNAH VASQUEZ/DESTIN.COM]

I’ve always wanted to try Yiota’s Greek Deli, but somehow I kept missing their open hours. On a recent weekend I finally made it to Yiota’s in Mary Esther, and let me just say, it was yum!

The food

Yiota’s Greek Deli is one of the most authentic Greek restaurants you can find here in Northwest Florida. The Greek-inspired menu is carefully prepared by the matron shop owner who hails from Athens, Greece. With menu items such as spanakopita, dolmades and galaktoboureko, before you even try a bite to eat, you know you’re in for a Mediterranean treat.

For our starter, my guest and I chose the spanakopita — or spinach pie, in English. Unfortunately for us, that dish was sold out so our waitress kindly suggested we try tyropita, or cheese pie, instead.

We obliged, and soon a small, puffed pastry with a smooth and savory cheese and onion filling arrived at our table. It reminded me of a perfect quiche and was delightful. The only drawback was that it left us wanting more!

Other appetizers include pita with hummus or tzatziki, dolmades — which are spiced rice-stuffed grape leaves — moussaka, which is a layered dish of ground beef, potato and eggplant, and potato salad. Next time we will defiantly order two appetizers!

For our entrees we chose the classic gyro and the chicken souvlaki pita. Each sandwich came with a side of chips, which were of the Lays varieties. Other available entrees included grilled sandwiches, salads and even platters, but we decided to stick with the all-famous Greek gyros.

Both gyros were showstoppers. My guest had the classic gyro, which was a soft, toasted pita filled with beef and lamb, Roma tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and feta.

My chicken souvlaki pita was similar with a toasted pita filled with slow-smoked chicken, tzatziki, feta, lettuce, tomato and onion.

One bite into my pita, and the flavor whisked me back to the spring of 2010 when I spent a week in Athens and bought gyros from street trucks. The creamy tzatziki and feta sauce was the perfect compliment to the smoked chicken. In a word, the gyros where perfect.

For dessert we ordered traditional baklava — a layered filo dough with nuts, spices and clove syrup and galaktoboureko — a filo dough and sweet custard layered pastry. Once again, my dish of galaktoboureko was unavailable so I settled instead for tiramisu.

Along with our desserts we ordered specialty coffees — a new menu feature for this restaurant, which celebrates its 20 year anniversary this year. My guest ordered the Greek coffee, which was a small but strong coffee, much like an espresso. I ordered a latte.

Even though I didn’t get my first choice, dessert was delicious! My guest commented that he loved the baklava, and the sweetness of the pastry paired perfectly with the bitterness of his coffee.

The tiramisu was equally delightful, and the latte was presented in a clear glass, making the aesthetics match the great tasting dessert.

The atmosphere

Yiota’s Greek Deli is a small, yet surprisingly spacious restaurant. The décor features posters of Greek towns and follows the national colors of Greece with white and light blue accents throughout the shop.

In following the deli theme, display cases of desserts, cheeses and deli meats separate the dining room from the open kitchen. On the walls surrounding the dining room are shelves full of Mediterranean groceries available for purchase.

The service

Although there were only two employees the day we visited, service was surprisingly fast. We were welcomed by our waitress, Brooke, who took our orders and checked on us regularly.

The owner’s son was also there during our visit and happily answered questions we had about the food and the restaurant. He also told us that the limited number of menu items came from the fact that his mother hand-makes all of the specialty Greek menu items to ensure their quality and freshness.

A final taste

The care of service and quality of food at Yiota’s Greek Deli made our trip pleasurable and delicious. We will definitely return and hopefully catch some of those ever-elusive Greek specialties.

Yiota's Greek Deli

Location: 130 Miracle Strip Parkway, Mary Esther.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Phone: 850-302-0691

Reservations: Not needed

Handicap accessibility: Moderate

Price Range:

Starters, $3

Gyros, salads & sandwiches, $6-$9

Platters, $9-$11

Desserts, $3-$4.50

Coffee, $1.50-$3.75

Kids menu, Yes, $3.50-$5

Payment: credit cards accepted