The Fat Greek, a cozy blue and white room in Renaissance Center West, recently acquired an adjacent space and has more than doubled in size. That’s good news for lovers of Greek cuisine, and bad news for the competition.
The Goumroian family had a rightful claim to the best Greek restaurant in Las Vegas before their son, Jerry, and Greek-born chef Nikolas Georgousis were at the stoves. Jerry, a Culinary Institute of America grad and a true foodie, most recently worked with talented chef Adam Sobel at RM Seafood. Now the Fat Greek kitchen has an embarrassment of riches.
Witness a dish like macaronia me kyma from the lunch menu. It’s a rich casserole of aromatically spiced ground meat, with tubular pasta and feta cheese bubbling on top. It’s a dieter’s nightmare, because it is difficult to stop eating. (My advice: Take some home; it’s great reheated).
Smelts, called marides, come perfectly fried, around 15 to an order from the appetizer section of the menu. Eat them whole with a little squeezed lemon. And the grilled octopus, blackened and crisp around the edges, is amazing. They often run out, especially on Mondays.
Even the lowly bean soup is elevated to gourmet status here, chock-full of carrots, with a rich, flavorful broth. The famous avgolemono, the lemon rice soup swirled with egg yolk, is made to order—and tastes it. I never come here without ordering tirokefteri, either. It’s spicy feta dip, made to be eaten on hot hunks of the crusty house bread.
As for the entrées, paterfamilias Yiannis Goumroian still cooks, too, and his tender lamb shank, suspended on a mound of orzo, is always one of the menu’s highlights, especially when eaten with a Mythos, the national beer of Greece. There are also the usual casserole suspects on the menu, such as moussaka (eggplant) and pasticcio (think mac and cheese with a little meat thrown in) and naturally stuffed grape leaves—dolmades to you, pal. You can have everything at once by ordering the combination plate for two, which includes the previous three entrées plus gyro meat, cheese pie and roasted potatoes. Don’t plan to go swimming after this deal.
Every night, there are varying specials, and these are dishes you won’t find in anywhere else in the city. Athenian chicken is oven-baked in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano, but by some magic, the skin manages to crisp anyway. Ask for stifado—a Greek beef stew that has the faint perfume of cinnamon and allspice—or whatever fresh fish the chef has been able to procure.
And save room for dessert. Yiannis’ wife, Alice, is a trained pastry chef. Her bougatsa, hot cheese inside phyllo dough, or kourambiedes, a rich Greek shortbread traditionally eaten at Easter, are as delicious as any you’ll eat in a Greek home, or church fare.
Eat your heart out, Los Angeles. Maybe someday, you’ll have a Greek restaurant as good as this one.