When Tommy Karakostas gets to talking about his Lakewood shop, it can be easy to mistake his pride for smugness. "I don't serve one American dish. You won't find anything non-Greek in my place," says the man behind the Greek Village Grille, a split-second before catching himself. "Chicken tenders," he notes with exasperation. "It's for the kids." When he's not thinking of the children, Karakostas is singularly devoted to crafting the unmistakable flavors of Greece, with almost everything checking in at under $10. You'll taste it in the housemade hummus and tzatziki dips, in the three varieties of gyro (Karakostas understandably boasts of his devotion to the true gyro meat — pork), in the rich and creamy moussaka and pastitsio, and in authentic meal-enders like baklava and galaktoboureko. Occupying the hallowed — if tiny — space that was the longtime home of Angelo's pizza, Greek Village opened in October 2009 and cultivated a loyal following from the start. That, of course, only encouraged Karakostas to get even more daring with his menu. "People say, Why don't you serve corned beef? You'll do so much business," he says with a dismissive smile. "I say, 'I don't want to do that. I want to bring Greek cuisine to Cleveland again, and to do it justice." Justice is served daily at Greek Village and late night every Friday at Saturday. — Erich Burnett
At 14019 Madison Ave. in Lakewood, 216-228-4978, greekvillagegrille.com.
234 Euclid Ave., 216-589-0007.