QUESTION: I am blessed with a wonderful roommate. For her birthday, I would like to take her and her friends to a mildly affordable authentic Greek restaurant, but I’m not sure where to go in the Hollywood area. My roommate was a resident of Mykonos for some time, and she desperately misses the fine cuisine of that Greek island.
—Jed Popek, Hollywood
ANSWER: Sofi, in West Hollywood, is never quite as good as I hope it will be, and it certainly isn’t as revelatory as it was in its mid-’80s heyday, although the meze, appetizers, are at least reliably decent. Elena’s Greek-Armenian Cafe in Glendale is more Armenian than Greek, and more cheery than celebratory. Joseph’s Cafe is also more Greek-Armenian than straight Greek, and is more of a nightclub than either these days, but at least it seems like something of a scene.
Which brings us, as always, to Papa Cristo’s. The cafe is pretty bare-bones for a birthday, although it is extremely inexpensive and not bad at all, at least for a Greek grill attached to a Greek market. A big Greek Orthodox church across the street keeps the place reasonably authentic, or at least authentically Greek-American, and the grilled lamb, grilled octopus, spinach pies and winy loukaniko sausage are kind of tasty, if on the basic side. But if you call a little in advance, you can take out a garlic-intensive whole roast lamb to serve at home. Which, come to think of it, could be pretty festive after all — as long as you, the roommate, promise to do all the dishes afterward. 2771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 737-2970.