While there are several Greek and/or Middle Eastern restaurants in Santa Cruz County, the Middle Eastern restaurant that I enjoy most frequently is The Falafel House on Walnut Street in downtown Santa Cruz, CA. While not specifically a Greek restaurant, much of the cuisine is of Greek origin, although much of the food would fit in perfectly with any number of Middle Eastern cuisines and is rather nondescript.
The Falafel House in Santa Cruz, CA offers a full array of traditional Middle Eastern staples, including falafel, Tahini sauce, fresh hummus, gyros, and baklava. One of my favorites items in Middle Eastern cuisine is gyros meat. While “gyros” is a general term that can be applied to any type of meat including chicken, pork, or lamb, most people associate the word “gyros” with lamb in particular. I have a notorious weakness for this seasoned lamb gyros meat, so most of the meals I order at the Falafel House in Santa Cruz will feature lamb in one way or another. While the gyros meat from Falafel House in Santa Cruz is very delicious and adequately seasoned, my only complaint is that the portions are much too small for a satisfying and filling meal.
Another of my favorite items at the Falafel House is their side order of Dolmas, a traditional Middle Eastern appetizer consisting of stuffed and rolled grape leaves. While any number of things can be stuffed in a grape leaf and counted as a Dolma, the Falafel House in Santa Cruz has a basic and hearty variety of this traditional dish that is stuffed with a rice based filling. It is easy to make Dolmas too oily for my taste, and I find that the Dolmas offered by the Falafel House do not have this fatal flaw in their Dolmas.
My wife enjoys the “Combo Plate” offered by the Falafel House. The combo plate is a plate full of vegetables, sauces such as Tahini sauce (which is yogurt based), hummus, and Tabouli salad. While this combo plate is delicious from a vegetarian perspective, which is important in Santa Cruz County, I prefer the meals that include some form of meat to feed my more carnivorous appetite such as the gyros sandwich consisting of gyros meat, lettuce and Tahini sauce wrapped in pita bread.
For dessert at the Falafel House I enjoy a piece from the Falafel House’s selection of house-made baklava. There are usually several varieties of this traditional Middle Eastern dessert on hand at the Falafel House, with the difference being the type of nuts that are used in the baklava. Each variety is excellent, so choose whichever type of nut you prefer in general or happen to be in the mood for at the time of your visit.
In conclusion, the Falafel House on Walnut Street in downtown Santa Cruz, CA offers a full spectrum of traditional Middle Eastern and Greek food for a very reasonable price. While the portions are a little small for my taste, the deliciousness of the food at the Falafel House more than makes up for the small portion size.