When you think of Greek food, you think of New York, Boston, Chicago, and some strongholds of the community, and now you can add Alabama, home to southern fare, to that list.
Many Greeks a century ago found a home in Birmingham, where Conde Nast Traveler, in a feature, said they quickly got into the food business, to no surprise of anyone who's had the fortune to eat at a Greek diner.
“(With) names like Sarris, Hontzas, and Bonduris, Greeks gained a foothold in Birmingham’s food scene, creating an enduring Southern-meets-Mediterranean marriage that, a century ago, was trailblazing,” the story noted.
There are still few exclusively Greek restaurants, but diners in the city and environs still blend the heritages, such as The Bright Star that opened in 1907 and is still going.
At Ted’s, souvlakia crowds plates alongside fried okra and cheesy squash casserole. At Niki’s West (owned by two Hontzas brothers) a specialty is Greek baked chicken or lemon-pepper catfish.
James Beard Award semifinalist Tim Hontzas, a cousin, packs them in at Johnny's, featuring keftedes and fasolakia plus Alabama standards enlivened with Greek ingredients: turnip greens with lamb.