If you go
› Where: 2 Crazy Greeks, 4848 Hixson Pike.› Phone: 423-710-2829.› Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.› Price range: $5 for two gyro sliders (eight sliders are $18) to $10 for a gyro platter.
Near the busy, business-studded junction of Highway 153 and Hixson Pike lurks a surprisingly tasty quick-stop for Greek food.
The walk-up, drive-through and delivery restaurant dubbed 2 Crazy Greeks occupies the former BBQ City building on the corner of Hixson Pike and Greendale Way, but it dodges being identified as a barbecue shack with flapping Greek flags and a bright blue and white treatment on its exterior.
Beneath likenesses of owners and brothers Paco and Nicky Fotiadis, the tiny restaurant's slogan promises "Big Greek Flavor, Little Bitty Building."
When my wife and I got there on a Sunday just after the lunch hour, there was no line at the order window or the drive-though. As soon as we stepped up, the sliding window at the top of the deck steps snapped back and we were greeted by Paco Fotiadis and his wife, Maria.
We had checked out the menu online - argued a bit over the fact that we wanted similar dishes - and drove over to Hixson for our test run. Because we had to travel 15 minutes back home to eat, we ordered at the window and sped away with our food as quickly as we got it so it would be hot and fresh when we got home.
The menu's not complicated, featuring a short list of some classics and standards and a wipe-off board listing the daily specials. I was a little focused on my own order Sunday and didn't notice what was listed as the daily special.
Appetizers include a cold pekelia made of hummus, tzatziki, eggplant dip, skorodalia and pita ($9), chicken breast tenders ($6), pita and hummus ($5) and spanakopita made of feta cheese, filo and spinach ($5.50).
Salad offerings include a Greek salad with lettuce, tomato, onions, cucumber, pepperoncini, feta cheese and olives (small $5.75, large $8); a vegetarian salad with tomato, cucumber, olives, onions and bell pepper ($4 and $5); chef salad with ham, Swiss cheese and roast beef; and a grilled chicken salad with lettuce, tomato, onions and cucumber ($5.75 and $8 for either).
Gyros come in four variations - a beef-and-lamb combo, beef, chicken and pork - served with lettuce, tomato and onions on pita bread. The gyro sandwich version ($6.75) goes inside the pita bread, while the Gyro platter ($10) comes with lots of meat, triangles of pita, lettuce, tomato and onions on the side, accompanied by a small Greek salad. The tzatziki sauce was thick and tasted homemade.
And it's pronounced "year-ohs," by the way, according to the note on the side of the building, at least. That's probably as precise as it can be for those of us with a real Southeast Tennessee accent.
For falafel and pita offerings, a sandwich of lettuce, tomato, tzatziki and onions on pita bread is $6 and a platter with a side is $7.50.
The menu also has a lineup of five sandwiches starting with a French dip ($7.50), sausage and peppers sandwich with or without tomato sauce ($7), Philly cheese steak made with eye of round, onions and peppers ($7), a Cuban sandwich made with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on a toasted bun ($6.50), and an Italian combo made with capicola, pepperoni, salami, ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and choice of dressing ($7.75).
Side items include fries (small $3, large $4), chili cheese fries ($4) and feta cheese fries ($4.75), which are made with oregano and olive oil.
Kids can get a couple of hot dogs and an order of fries for $4 or chicken tenders and fries for $4.75.
Desserts, which I plan to try next time, include baklava made of filo with nuts and honey ($2), kourabiedes with walnut sugar cookie (one for $1.25, three for $3.50) and a sweet semolina ($3.50).
My wife ordered the gyro platter with beef and a side of fries, and I decided on the same platter but with beef and lamb, plus a small Greek salad for my side, as I worried about the effect of travel time on the fries. Upon arrival at our house, we whipped out the fries to keep them from steaming too much and lifted the lids on our main dishes.
I was surprised to see the meat looked so different - the beef and lamb were sliced thin while the beef came in big, thick cuts.
A fork full of the beef and lamb proved moist and filled with delicate flavor complimented by plentiful tzatziki sauce. I didn't expect much from the small Greek salad but was surprised to find it chock-full of feta cheese, diced cucumbers and fresh lettuce and tomato and topped with some tasty dressing.
Initially, I eyed my wife's thick beef gyro slices suspiciously because I thought it might be dry, but when she finally let me have a bite, it was richly seasoned, moist and fork-tender. The two meats were delicious and very different, with the beef being the more seasoned of the two. I want to try chicken or pork next time.
The fries were good, natural-cut spuds, and they didn't get as steamed on the car ride as I'd feared. However, my wife and I remarked at the same time that "we should have tried them on the way home" to taste them at their best.
As a walk-up restaurant, the service was as prompt as it should be, and the folks inside were very friendly and talked about the cold weather. There is a tip jar at the window, but the cashier's ticket doesn't have a line where you can add a tip. Remember to take along a little cash if you want to leave behind a gratuity. The restaurant offers delivery and catering.
The location for 2 Crazy Greeks is directly on the beaten path, but it could be easy to miss if you're not looking for the little shack amid all the other fast food and business fronts. If you're heading south on Hixson Pike or taking the ramp from Highway 153, the left turn to the restaurant is immediately after crossing the 153 overpass. The building has a few parking spots out front and a wraparound drive-through lane that make for easy access.
My wife and I saw 2 Crazy Greeks as a prime source of tasty Mediterranean fare for Hixson's lunchtime crowd and a good dinnertime alternative for local residents who want to bring some foreign flair home. It's a little more distant drive than some of the Greek eateries nearer our home on the south side of town, but the fresh taste, high quality and friendly service will definitely lure us back next time we're on the hunt for gyros. I still kind of regret not trying the Cuban sandwich. Next time for sure.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.