GRK Serves Fresh, Casual Greek Food
The family-owned GRK Fresh Greek restaurant opened its second restaurant in mid-July at 1140 19th St. NW between Dupont Circle and Farragut North. The restaurant’s first store is in New York City’s financial district in September 2012.
The three-floor restaurant seats 75 inside and another 36 on the outdoor patio. It was designed by Alex Konopisopoulos with local architect Augeris Vakalopoulos. Not only are many of the ingredients imported from the home land, but local managing partner Alex Alveras moved to D.C. from Athens, as did partners George Nikas and Peter Psaromatis. The three hope to open eight to 10 more locations in the DMV over the next few years.
The star of GRK’s menu is its Yerro, the phonetic spelling of gyro, made from the traditional seasoned lamb and beef, chicken, pork or portobello mushrooms marinated in Greek yogurt and slow roasted on a rotisserie grill. Yerros are served in with lettuce and tomatoes and one of three yogurt-based tzatziki sauces – GRK, a traditional tzatziki sauce made with scallions, cucumber, mint and lemon zest; Kaftero made with fire-roasted habanero peppers, herbs and spices; or Prassino, made with basil, shredded cucumber, garlic and lemon zest. They come wrapped in a pita ($7.53) or on a plate ($9.97)with a choice of seasoned fries ($3.81 if ordered separately), brown rice ($2.98) or Aegean slaw ($3.63) and a quartered pita.
I tried the lamb-beef on a plate and the chicken in a pita. I preferred the traditional lamb-beef combination, since the chicken was a bit dry and could have used a bit more sauce. Both came with a large helping of meat. Also, the Kaftero tzatziki sauce is tasty, but not very spicy so pepper lovers should ask for a side of GRK’s hot sauce, which is made in house and packs some punch.
The seasoned fries, which are crunchy and seasoned with garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and Greek oregano, and the Aegean slaw made with red and green cabbage, carrots, onion and fresh herbs in a lemon vinaigrette, were delicious. Other dishes include Greek ($9.92), kale ($7.26) or lentil ($7.26) salads in entrée or side (all $4.27) sizes. The lentil salad is made with shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herb and barley rusk croutons. The restaurant also serves chicken avgolemono, a traditional Greek soup made with chicken broth, rice, egg and lemon sauce, or lentil soup, made with a lentil puree, Greek yogurt and topped with feta and fresh mint. Both are priced at $4.96.
Marino Stratigakis, GRK’s director of operations, told DC on Heels that the meat is assembled in New Jersey, where it is made from all muscle meat and marinated for 24 hours, then shipped to the restaurants where it is cooked. The pitas are also baked in house and the soups, salads and sides are made fresh daily, often several times a day.
For dessert, try the 2 percent frozen yogurt ($3.63 small, $5.58 medium) or the fat-free or 2 percent fresh yogurt (one size $4.87), flown in from Greece daily. Both come with two toppings (extra toppings are 75 cents), many of which are on the sticky-sweet exotic side like rose petal, fig, black cherry or sweet cherry preserves imported from Greece, quince, fresh fruit, nuts, Greek honey, flax seed or granola. There are also two savory fresh yogurt specialties ($6.25 each) – the Simi with figs, olives, tomato, pepper, cucumber, basil, pita chips and extra virgin olive oil, or the Corfu with basil, apples, figs, lentils, sea salt and EVOO.
GRK serves Puck’s fountain soda, Epsa Greek sodas, bottled Coke products, Tuvunu Greek mountain tea, beer and wine.
GRK Fresh Greek is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday, noon-3 a.m. Saturday and noon-10 p.m. on Sunday.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.