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Good thing the food is colorful at Opa! Photo by Lee Chastain.

You’ll want to bring a friend along when you dine at Opa! Mediterranean Café­. The cutest, most charming, personable friend you can find. Ambiance at the new West 7th Street corridor eatery is not provided.

The restaurant is a study in beige: The beige exterior opens onto a beige dining room. Beige tables hold beige plates (sometimes delivering beige-colored food). No potted plant or flower intrudes on the place’s bleak montage. There are no cheerful posters of the Parthenon. No cobalt coastlines. No colorful gods. The severity of the décor, if you can call it that, is complete.

Fortunately, the food is pretty good. Opa! serves a standard gyro-shop menu, hot and quick. If you are craving the unmistakable garlic punch of American-standard Greek cuisine, you will find it in every bite, presented without pretense — or garnish.

BAILA 4 (300 × 250 px)

The small menu features house recipes prepared with care. It also has some pre-packed factory-kitchen items, and you’ll want to keep that in mind as you plan your meal. The pita, in particular, is a throwback. The dense, cardboard-like disks tasted like they came right out of a freezer bag. Anything made onsite is a better bet, and the menu doesn’t shy away from calling attention to the items prepared in-house.

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Opa! Mediterranean Café

2708 W 7th St, FW. 817-334-0888. 11am-3pm, 5-9pm Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.

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The price is right for the lamb/beef gyro, whose spongy pile of salty processed meat had a flattop sear and lacked nuance, but the homemade tzatziki was tangy and cool without too much garlic. It’s nice to get real lettuce and tomatoes on a sandwich that looks like it just walked out of the mall. It satisfies a certain nostalgia for the food courts of yesteryear and makes for the perfect nosh to eat alone in your car on a hot summer day.

The falafel was flavorful and fresh, but the pita didn’t do it any favors (and remained on the plate uneaten). A vibrant sauté of peppers, onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños complemented the golden, crisp nuggets that tasted like a flavorful fried hummus. Load it up with more tzatziki and you’ve got a solid vegetarian meal.

The chicken souvlaki platter was tasty enough, though the portions and presentation were lacking. A few cubes of perfectly seared, delicately seasoned chicken breast flanked a mound of well-cooked but uninspired basmati rice. Grilled tomatoes and lightly dressed lettuce lined the edges of the plate with military precision. It’s a dish that, like the restaurant itself, is not quite there. It’s almost something you could get excited about, but it needs a kick in the chlamys.

The standout was the pastitsio, a layered dish of tube pasta, spiced ground beef, and a fluffy béchamel cream sauce that was a nutmeg-lover’s dream. It was beautifully cooked, savory, and delicious to the last bite, but plated with the artistry of a middle-school cafeteria. A bit of salad, a sprig of parsley, anything with a hint of color would have been a nice gesture.

Service is friendly but minimal. Tea and fountain drinks are self-serve. You order and pay at the counter and receive a pager to let you know when your food is ready. This seems an odd and unnecessary touch for such a tiny restaurant, but if it speaks to an optimistic outlook, well, that’s fine. It would be nice to see the place succeed, and the potential is there. If it’s true, though, that we eat first with our eyes, Opa! has a lot of work to do.

 

[box_info]Opa! Mediterranean Café
Lamb/beef gyro     $4.59
Falafel pita     $6.19
Chicken souvlaki platter     $7.99
Pastitsio     $9.99[/box_info]

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