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Bites Nearby: Daphne's Greek Cafe

Geeks for Greek, dine-in or take-out.

You could stand on a corner and look around until a restaurant sign draws you in. But we've got a better idea. Each week, Santee Patch picks a great restaurant, either in town or nearby, that is worth checking out. Here's this week's choice:

Overview: Daphne's "California Greek" is a chain restaurant serving Greek inspired fare at an affordable price. Per the California State law requiring all restaurant chains to list a calorie count next along with all menu items, Daphne's menu follows suite. The menu focuses on healthy family eating that is tasty and won't break the bank. It is not a full-service sit down restaurant, instead you order at the counter and your food is cooked-to-order and served to your table, or packaged for take-home.

Entrees: There are sandwich plates, such as a traditional gyros (pronounced yeer-ohs) pitas with tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, and Tzatziki sauce, served with fries. They have a mini version of the sandwich called "street pitas" imitating the Mexican variety of "street tacos." They are advertising the new, healthy menu option California Greek Salad with avocado, pine nuts, feta, corn, greens, roasted chicken and gorgonzola vinaigrette, only 540-660 calories!

Steven and I opted for the plates which included pita, tzatziki sauce and two sides, in addition to the meat (or in my case veggie main entree). He got the gyros and steak kabob plate with a side of tabouli and Greek salad. I ordered the vegetarian plate that came with falafel, spanakopita, dolmas and hummus, along with my two sides, greek salad and fire-roasted vegetables. The presentation of both plates certainly had me salivating...

The gyros were very tasty, the steak was well seasoned and tender, though somewhat chewy. Though the tzatziki was thick, cool and creamy, it was a bit bland. The tabouli salad was zesty and lemony with a bite of bulgar wheat I found delicious. The fire-roasted veggie side, only 60 calories, was delightful, with charred and seasoned green beans, onions, carrot, bell peppers and zucchini. 

The dolmas (grape leaves) were mushy and unappealing. The spanikopita was deep fried instead of baked, which was good, but maybe not better than the traditional style. The falaffel was too smooth inside and very bland, almost flavorless, not my favorite. The hummus was tasty and traditional. The meal itself was very filling, I was quite satisfied.

Overall I would rate the food a B- and for the price, I would go back. Next time I'll have to try dessert. You can place an order at daphnes.biz.

Service: The staff was friendly and helpful, offering to decipher the Greek menu names (the menu also offers definitions on the back).

Signature Dishes: Gyros, spanikopita, pita, tzatziki, and are signature Greek dishes. The rest of the menu has a Mediterranean flair.

Specials: Available after 3 p.m. are three-course dinners for $7.99. The dinner includes your choice of a starter and entree with sides and dessert. The Family Pack take out menu allows choice of two entrees, two sides, pita and tzatziki sauce, all for $21.99 (serves up to four).

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