When I first saw the grand opening of Padeli’s Street Greek in Lehi earlier this year, I couldn’t wait for my sister to come visit so we could try it out. She was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Greece back in the early 90s, and since then she’s struggled to find good Greek food that reminds her of what she ate there.
We perused the appetizer side, ordering dolmas, a traditional dish typically made of a rice and ground meat filling wrapped in grape leaves; pita chips with “spicy feta dip,” and we tried to get a cup of Avgolemono (lemon chicken soup) and Spanakopita, feta and spinach pie, but on a Saturday afternoon we were informed they were out of both of those. We were pretty bummed, but we soldiered on nonetheless. Apparently the Spanakopita at least is typically delivered from other Padeli’s locations in Salt Lake City or South Jordan.
For main dishes, we aimed to try a variety of things — we ordered a Half and Half Bowl, which has lemon rice, chopped Greek salad and a choice of meat or falafel; and two gyros; the Traditional Gyro with lamb/beef mixture and the Shishito Gyro, which is less traditional with the addition of shishito peppers to rotisserie chicken.
We decided to skip desserts because Padeli’s only offers two: brownies and baklava. Baklava is more authentic and traditional, but neither my sister nor I really like the strong honey taste.
The pita chips were good, perfectly crunchy but not too thick so as to be difficult to eat, and they were rather plain, which made them perfect for dipping. The spicy feta had a very strong flavor and the spice kind of hit you later. Quite tasty, but not something you could eat too much of.
The dolmas were served cold and at first I was a little nervous because of the temperature and, well, they’re soaked in olive oil so they were a bit ... slimy. However, one bite rocked my world. The dolmas, which were just rice, were flavored with mint and lemon. Mint can be an overwhelming flavor that I don’t like very much, but in these it was perfectly balanced and delicious. Dolmas are my sister’s favorite — and while these weren’t the best she’d ever had (hard to compare to what Greek grandmothers make), she gave them her stamp of approval. Definitely eat them with a fork though to avoid getting your fingers greasy.
The other wow factor was the Traditional Gyro. Oddly, the menu says the choice of meat is chicken or pork, but definitely ask to have it with the lamb/beef mixture. All of the food was served with generous portions, and our gyro was no exception, being stuffed with meat and topped with onions, tomatoes and lettuce.
Again, I was a bit worried about my own picky palate — no matter how many times I’ve tried lamb, I haven’t liked it. But this — this was incredible tasting. Both my sister and I gave the meat two thumbs up, but what really took it over the top was the tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is a traditional sauce made with yogurt, cucumber and lemon, and my sister said it was some of the best tzatziki she’d ever had. Score one for Padeli’s!
The Shishito Gyro wasn’t as spicy as we thought it would be, and the chicken was good, but it wasn’t much of a follow up to the amazing traditional gyro. Both gyros came wrapped in warm, thick and fluffy pitas which we both loved.
The largest amount of food by far came in the Half and Half Bowl, which was served with tzatziki, an olive oil and oregano dressing, and something called “lemone Greek” on the side. We ordered it with “Falafel Bombs,” which were made with feta. The Falafel Bombs were, in fact, the bomb. Freshly made, they were served hot and the briny feta, while salty, left us wanting more. The lemone Greek was by far my favorite dressing as it was creamy and tangy without being too thick, and we loved the variety of textures and flavors that came in the Half and Half Bowl, which includes lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, pepperoncinis, feta cheese, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans and a single dolma.
Interestingly, the feta in the salad wasn’t very salty or briny, instead it tasted rather creamy and mild. Cheese is cheese, so of course it was still good, and it was a nice balance next to the salty olives and pickled pepperoncinis. My biggest frustration with the salad was I personally found it difficult to eat. Again, I’m grateful for the generous portions, but the food was so packed into a small container that it would have been impossible to mix everything together, much less dress it all. The salad made for great leftovers the next day, when I was able to pour it into a larger bowl that allowed me to mix everything together with that wonderful lemone Greek dressing.
For the amount of food we got, I feel like the price was definitely right. My taste buds and I can’t wait to pay another visit to this little slice of Greek heaven. And if you’re in doubt of what to order, trust my experienced sister and get the traditional gyro with lamb/beef and the dolmas.
Carley Porter covers northern Utah County and business for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.