Today for lunch I went to Daphne’s Greek Cafe in the Safeway shopping center at Sierra College and Douglas. There is one other Daphne’s location on Fairway Drive near Kohl’s. Aside from these there are a few scattered around the bay area and most of the rest in southern California where they got their start about 20 years ago. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve been to a Daphne’s. I know that I’ve only ever had the basic gyro pita, which is pretty tasty and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like slowly rotating, roasting meats?
That said, other than gyros, Greek cuisine is a bit of a blank spot in my food knowledge. I had lots of time to examine the menu while a couple in front of me asked the cashier some questions. The chicken pine nut salad sounded really good (Roasted chicken and mixed greens tossed in pomegranate dressing, topped with pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese) but I wasn’t really in the mood for a salad today. I think I may come back and check that out sometime soon. I kind of wanted a gyro but I also wanted to try some other things. I found the Mix & Match plates where you can choose any two items from fresh-carved gyros, grilled chicken or steak kabobs, falafel or crispy shrimp. In addition you get to pick two sides (choice of fire-roasted vegetables, tabouli, seasoned rice pilaf, fries, side greek salad, multigrain pita chips and premium hummus [original, roasted red pepper or pesto]).
When I got to the register I asked if the gyros in this mix and match plate was the same as the standard pita and was told that it’s just the meat itself rather than the full pita with the veggies. This made sense because the plate is only a few bucks extra for a lot more food. I asked if it came with flatbread or something and he said it comes with slices of pita bread. With that I ordered the plate, choosing gyros and a chicken kabob. I asked him if he had any recommendations for the sides. Rice pilaf, fries, greek salad and roasted red pepper hummus were mentioned. I’m not big on the traditional Greek salad and fries sounded kind of boring today so I went with the rice and hummus. Adding a soda brought my total to just over $12.
I walked over to the soda fountains and filled my cup with Pibb. Just as I was finishing I noticed some extra buttons on one of the modules that I’ve never seen before. Flavor shots! There was cherry, vanilla and orange. I decided to check that out with a refill later. I took a seat in the decent sized dining room and stuck my little order number card in the holder. There is a ton of outdoor seating on the side and some out front by a big round fountain. It was a touch on the chilly side so just about everyone was inside, but I always see lots of people eating out there when the weather is nice. I thought the salt shaker / pepper grinder combo was pretty neat. You turn the whole top block with salt to grind the pepper.
Not too long after I sat down, maybe 5 minutes or so, my order was brought out on a square plate and I was given a fork and knife wrapped in a napkin. Everything looked pretty good so I dug in immediately after taking some photos. The rice pilaf was really very good. Hummus scooped up with pita bread was excellent. I first tried the plain hummus and then took a dab of the roasted red pepper topper. It added just a little spice but I could see it would be best if I mixed it up. The chicken kabob tasted pretty good, particularly the veggies, though the chicken was a little dry. The gyro meat was nicely spiced and very tasty as well, but it too was kind of dry. Dipping it in the included pita sauce (I have no idea what this is, but man it’s good) helped out a lot. The sauce is incredibly light and kind of refreshing in a way. The Pibb was very weak. It didn’t seem to be out, just a bad syrup mix (they must have taken a page from Panda Express on this). When I left I gave the vanilla shot a try with it, but it was weak to the point that now all it tasted like was carbonated water with a strong vanilla flavor. I ended up dumping it later after just a few sips. Pretty disappointing.
This is the first time I’ve had gyros where it’s dry. I just talked to someone that told me they don’t like to order the kabobs because they have also experienced dry chicken with those. If both of these were juicier, and the soda fountains properly set up, than I think this would have been a home run. The sides were a lot better than I expected. The service was very good. The cashier was patient and helpful and the dining room service was good. Employees were constantly moving through and checking on the customers. After my food was delivered I was checked on twice and right after I finished and set my napkin on the plate someone came by to take the plate and ask again how everything was.