Gardens of Salonica

Twin Cities, Minnesota


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I like that Gardens of Salonica have items on the menu marked as vegan which makes it easy to navigate. Most of the menu items are large portions of one thing, so this is a great place to go with a group and share dishes.

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This place is really a gem. First of all, there is the atmosphere: the restaurant has huge windows that bathe the entire space in natural light. I don't think the electrical lights have even been on when I've eaten there. The artwork is also fantastic and creative (and also a little hilarious upon closer inspection). The bar is beautiful, and it's so relaxing to sit at and enjoy some pita and dips with drinks. There are 8 different vegan appetizers to choose from, all of which are served with warm fluffy pita. My favorites include Melitzana, an eggplant puree, Skordalia, a garlic and potato puree and Patzaria, steamed beets with their greens with garlic and red wine vinegar. I like how they include the greens with the roots. As other reviews have said, there are only two vegan entrees on the menu, but there are almost ALWAYS one or two specials that are vegan. There is a fantastic cauliflower special which is unbelievably flavorful and juicy, and a dish called Briam, a stew of eggplant, zucchini, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes, and one other stew that I forgot the name of now. Usually, there is one vegan soup, and a vegan boughatsa filled with leek lemon and garlic. Another reviewer said there was no vegan dessert, but their poached figs are indeed vegan, and boy are they incredible. They have the most delectable port-based sauce, and are topped with lightly toasted slivered almonds. They are the perfect way to end a meal. The service is also very friendly, very helpful with the menu, and every time I have been there, it has been quite speedy. I can't really say anything bad about this place, other than that the greek salad already has the cheese mixed in.

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This has become the favorite restaurant for my extended family. I love the vegetarian sandwich (with those greek fries), but what I always think about in advance is the sampler plate of three items. The food is simply the best I have ever had.

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This is a lovely, cozy cafe that's minimal in decor, but gets tons of sunlight, which makes it feel really inviting and familiar. I really like the atmosphere here, first and foremost.

It's also the only Greek restaurant I've been to that has labeled vegan food. Granted, you have to read the descriptions carefully, as the "vegan friendly" disclaimer is buried in the text of the menu, rather than marked with a bright green "V".

I had a leek-lemon-garlic Boughatsa ($1.95 for a small one) which was a phyllo dough pastry filled with potatoes and a mash of leek, lemon and garlic. It was quite tasty and would make a great appetizer to go with wine or beer.

I also had a "Yigandes" ($8 a la carte) which consisted of lima beans baked with other vegetables/herbs in a tomato sauce. This was one of two vegan entree options. Normally the dish comes with either a soup or a Greek salad, but none of the soups were vegan and the Greek salad has feta. Strangely, they wouldn't allow me to substitute a vegan salad, of which they had four or five different options.

The Yigandes was really delicious and simple---lots of olive oil, garlic, onions and a really fresh, home-cooked flavor. It seemed like an excellent sauce more than anything else and I wondered why they don't serve the dish with fettuccine or some kind of egg-free noodle; on its own, the dish is tasty, but feels insubstantial in quantity and needs a starch component. It's definitely a small portion and therefore, at $8, a bit on the pricier side.

On a whole, though, I liked the food and atmosphere here. I think they could make a few adjustments to be more vegan-friendly (like adding a couple more dishes and soups, allowing for substitutions of vegan salads, and offering a vegan dessert) but it's still a great, unusual place in the Northeast.

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This is one of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities. The food is simply prepared, with quality ingredients (often local and organic), and vegan items are clearly marked on the menu. The interior is wonderful--spacious and minimal, with lots of natural woodwork and iron/stone sculptures, all beautifully lit with sunlight through the expansive south-facing windows (if you go during the day). Service has always been friendly and accommodating, although it can be slow when busy. I particularly enjoy ordering the "combination plate" from the appetizer section, which gives you a choice of three different spreads and salads, with an unlimited amount of pita. Their skordalia is particularly good (and garlicky!), as is the fava (a hummus-like spread made from fava beans) and piaz (black-eyed pea salad with lemon). Many of their items can also be purchased at area co-ops in the prepared foods section. They also feature two soups daily, one of which is usually vegan.

They also have a full bar, and offer many Greek wines that I have not seen elsewhere. I especially enjoy the Retsina, which is a white wine infused with the flavor of pine resin--not for everyone, but definitely a unique experience. One disappointment is their tea selection, which is simply bagged Lipton or something of that nature, which was surprising to me given the price they charge for tea.

This restaurant can be difficult to spot, as their sign is not very prominent--look for the iron and stone sculptures on the sidewalk. It is just west of Conga Bistro.

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I was not as impressed by this place as many reviews make it out to be. It was not much better than It's Greek to Me, Christos is next on my list to try.
I had the Vegetarian Pizza with Feta cheese, it was small and very very salty.
My partner had the Veg. Mousaka, and that also seemed very heavy with cheese and oil.
3rd was the Greek salad, which was good, but again the portion was very small, it also lacked onions, which may be a good or bad thing for some.

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I haven't eaten at another Greek restaurant since I found Gardens 8 years ago. OK, I work there now so you might think I'm biased, but try it for yourself and tell me I'm wrong. It was also my favorite when I was a vegetarian. There is a good selection of veg fare and a few vegan items as well. Service sometimes is not the best (sorry) but the food is great and still relatively inexpensive.

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