For 19 years, Kostas Fostieris’s Greek Deli in the Golden Triangle area has nourished some of downtown’s hungriest hotshots. Nestled alongside power-lunch spot Smith & Wollensky, the deli’s giant $7.50 gyro is a much better bang for your buck than the $50 filet next door. They’re only open for lunch, and it’s kind of a shame when a spanakopita craving strikes at 5 p.m., but it just means the midday visits must be that much more frequent.
Cost – $
Service – B
The line can sometimes wind all the way down 19th street, but don’t worry — Kostas makes sure to keep it moving quickly. Though he has a reputation as D.C.’s own “soup nazi,” he’s a much friendlier version, so long as he’s not assaulted with a barrage of inane questions. And don’t even bother asking about the calorie count — it might be Mediterranean cuisine, but it’s all swimming in copious (but still delicious) amounts of butter and high-quality olive oil.
Food – B
Rich, comforting avgolemno soup is an absolute must-try on a cold day; fork-tender turkey can minimize the caloric damage when ordering one of the establishment’s generous platters, which come with a literal mound of orzo and sort-of-ironic-but-still-fantastic salad. Greek string beans braised in tomatoes, onions and olive oil are perhaps the most addictive vegetable in history. The homemade tzatziki lends creamy tang to a hearty gyro, and taking it back to the office for lunch is sure to garner envy from coworkers sniffing its meaty aroma.
Décor – C
This is certainly a no-frills type of joint; there’s not even seating inside. The walls are plastered with reviews raving about the eatery’s authentic Greek fare. On a nice day, try to grab one of the outdoor tables, but be prepared to take your lunch elsewhere to dine. But what the restaurant lacks in ambience, it more than makes up for in flavor.
Feel – B
The Greek Deli feels homey, sincere and honest. It knows exactly what it is, and it doesn’t try to be anything else. So what is it exactly? Fantastic food at an incredible value and nothing else — because during your lunch break, what more could one really want?
The Greek Deli is at 1120 19th Street NW. They can be reached at (202) 296-2111.