This Hole-in-the-Wall Life

Zorba the Geek lives at Greek Town Grill

I sing the praises of Greek Town Grill in Costa Mesa's happening East 17th Street District for its sleek décor (ceiling-to-floor windows, mosaicked counter, sexy lighting and chairs), delicious takes on such Greek-American classics as pitas and dolmades, and the fact that owner Jim Marutsos works with fresh ingredients. But what I love most about this vibrant hole-in-the-wall is its vigilant waiters—handsome men and women who don't mind if customers are incompetents.

Let me explain. My chica and I visited Greek Town Grill one recent Sunday afternoon, famished after a day of pruning her rose bushes. We stepped into Greek Town's air-conditioned bliss and ordered a couple of appetizers—feta cheese with kalamata olives for her and a pear-and-gorgonzola salad for me; our gyros would arrive later. The feta cheese appetizer, slabs of the salty cheese presented alongside a mount of olives, looked gorgeous but lacked pita bread. The chica flagged down a waitress and asked how much pita bread costs. "Don't worry about it," she replied, as the waitress asked the cooks for a large, warm pita. We tore the fluffy pita into smaller pieces and stuffed them with the tart double-whammy of feta and kalamata. Once the pita was gone, I cast my eyes forlornly toward the kind waitress. She smiled, and returned with another.

We continued with the salad, a glistening hill of leaves, candied walnuts, long pear slices and melted gorgonzola. It was everything a great salad should be: sweet, pungent, crunchy and refreshing. I had a bottle of Orangina ready, but the salad was so moist it wasn't necessary.

Still life with kebabs. Photo by Matt Otto
Still life with kebabs. Photo by Matt Otto

Location Info


Greek Town Grill

279 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Costa Mesa

The gyros arrived, a roasted veggie for the lady, beeftekia for me. She ripped (ladylike, mind you) into a roasted veggie gyro notable for its color—slices of bell peppers, eggplant, onions and zucchini. I tried to savor my beeftekia, massive Greek meatballs painted with a cool layer of tzatziki sauce. But its earthiness demanded a beverage, and so I uncapped the Orangina. Frothy orange liquid erupted forth. Embarrassed, I kept eating my gyro, hoping no one would notice; my chica rolled her eyes, sighed and went to find some napkins. Suddenly, a waiter appeared, wiped up my mess and smiled.

I stammered a response, but none was possible. The Greek Town waiter ran off to clean up after another messy eater. I recounted this to my chica, who rolled her eyes again, thanked the waiter when he passed us by a couple of minutes later, and finished her gyro while gazing at the menu anew.