5644 J St, Sacramento, CA
“Eat well…eat Greek!” is the motto of Opa! Opa!, and in agreement with the restaurant and their philosophy on life, I’d like to add one more exclamation point to this sentence! In all seriousness, Opa! Opa! is perhaps the finest establishment I have discovered since starting this column. I’ve always known of its existence but was wary of its brightly colored exterior, and do I ever feel stupid now.
I worked at a Greek restaurant for a couple years in college, so I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the food. By no means do I consider myself a seasoned Greek cuisine critic, but Opa! Opa! is pretty damn good. If you don’t believe my overly glowing words yet, Opa! Opa! has won SN&R’s “Best Of” and has received rave reviews in Sacramento Magazine and The Bee, amongst others. Nearing their third year of being open for business it’s very clear that Opa! Opa! has found a formula for success.
Located at 5644 J St. (near Sac State) Opa! Opa! stands out to the drive by eye. It’s a decent-sized restaurant, with plenty of dining space and an outdoor area as well. You order at the counter, are able to see all the meats and condiments as you pass, which I always admire because you know they’re not hiding anything from you. And while the colorful decor strays from the traditional feel, the food and menu maintain authenticity while also throwing in a couple fun items for good measure.
For the first time visitor like myself the menu was a little overwhelming, flooded with so many different options, all with enticingly detailed descriptions. The Greek meatloaf made of lamb, onions, parsley and secret spices and the pastitso (Greek lasagna) all sounded amazing, and I’m sure they are, but I was easily led to the lunch special of any sandwich or gyro, with fries and a drink, for $7.99. Smart choice. Looking for something other than the typical gyro I selected the barbecued leg of lamb sandwich (which itself costs $6.99). No exaggeration, it was amazing. Served on a warm and fluffy roll, with a goat cheese and feta spread that is pureed with spinach and mint (my mouth is watering again just thinking about it), and accompanied by lettuce and tomato the sandwich was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. The meat was tender and also full of flavor, and was only complimented more by flavors in the spread. Following suit, the fries were also something to brag on; thick and crispy. It was healthy portions all the way around, and the meal held me down all day without feeling like I overdid it.
The perennial lunch buddy Bocephus was there, and also sided with the lunch special but with the regular beef/lamb gyro. His praises were also plentiful, commenting on the freshness of the meat and the pita, and the robust flavor of the meat itself. The tzatziki tasted homemade and the tomato and red onion helped accentuate all the flavors.
Judging from the menu, it doesn’t appear that you can do any wrong at Opa! Opa! In preparation for my next few visits I have already planned out my next meals. First up, pita pizzas (which are exactly what they sound like), more specifically “The Big Cheese” which is made with fresh feta, goat, casari, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I’ll have to go for a dinner and do the Greek meatloaf and convince the person I’m with to get the moussaka. All of their salads looked excellent and hearty, from the homemade tabouli to the orzo pasta salad with tomatoes, artichokes and Kalamata olives. They also serve beer and have a good-sized wine menu. And lastly, the prices were very good considering the quality of the food and the portions.
What made the experience even better was the generosity of owner and staff. I will see you guys very soon.