Nestled along Mass Street in Lawrence, just south of 9th Street, is a building marked by its green and white awning. This of course, is The Mad Greek, a Lawrence, Kansas staple serving up the best Greek and Italian fare (and easily one of my favorite spots in Lawrence).
From its warm, cozy interior that’s perfect for visiting, to the smells of and tastes of the the cuisine; it draws us in every time we visit.
The original owners and founders, George and Peggy Kritos, opened their doors to the The Mad Greek in 1988. It wasn’t until 1993 that the Mad Greek made its way to the heart of downtown Lawrence, where it now resides. In 2014, Theo and Deb Tagtalianidis took ownership and have kept the original spirit alive, while bringing in their own, personal flare.
Feats for the business include winning the Best of Lawrence “Best Mediterranean” over the past two years and recently celebrating 30 years in business! It’s no surprise that they’ve kept the masses happily fed over the years.
Food With Flare
The menu has some incredible choices that combine a mix of Greek and Mediterranean flavors with some classic, Italian favorites. For how many times I’ve visited over the years, there are still menu items I haven’t tried because I get so comfortable with my favorites!
One of those favorites is the pita wrapped sandwiches with the traditional gyros meat or chicken souvlaki. A classic, but you seriously can’t go wrong with either. Plus a side of greek fries kicks the whole meal up a little bit more.
Other can’t miss items are Theo’s Kotopoulo Lemonato (lemon chicken) or the Pasta a la Greco. Theo’s chicken is incredibly flavorful and tender, each bite filled with a blend of lemon and Greek seasoning. The pasta a la greco is the perfect combination of the two cuisines, a blend of spices and feta, and a new, personal favorite.
A can’t miss starter is the the saganaki, or flaming cheese. Only served in house, this dish is an experience! A piece of imported Greek cheese is put on a platter and pan fried in front of your very eyes, announced with an OPA!
If you have enough room for dessert, be sure to have your waiter bring over the tray with all of the options. Personal favorites include tiramisu (one of the best) and the more traditional baklava. If you didn’t save room, take something to-go and enjoy later - you won’t regret it!
A Traveling Taverna
In addition to the brick and mortar restaurant, 2018 saw the addition of the Traveling Taverna (in other words, a food truck). This addition brings the classic flavors of the restaurant into mobile, food truck friendly meals. Frequent menu items include gyros, chicken sandwiches, falafel, sand salads. However, the menu has seen additions such as gyro nachos, a combination of pita chips, gyro meat, feta, and tomato, as well as gyros fries.
The Traveling Taverna has made it possible for those outside of Lawrence to experience and enjoy this Lawrence staple. Locations range from Topeka to the Kansas City Metro area. Be sure to #followthegreek and catch the Tagtalianidises on the road!
Adapting to Today
Given the state of the world today, The Mad Greek has had to adapt to social distancing. They have certainly gotten creative in how they get the people their fix of gyros.
With Mass street allowing outdoor dining to expand, several parking spaces have recently been converted into a large deck. This has provided extra, outdoor seating (in addition to their small patio adjacent to the building) for patrons to enjoy some of their favorite Mediterranean dishes!
Their extensive menu has also seen the addition of family entrees and meals. These family meals include both Greek and Italian options. Build your gyros with the family, or enjoy a pasta dinner complete with salad and garlic bread. Family size sides are also available for purchase. In some instances, they’ve even coordinated and delivered family meals to KC-area neighborhoods.
The Mad Greek is a staple in the Lawrence community, with their amazing food and service. It’s easily one of my favorite restaurants and can’t miss stop. To summarize—go eat at the Mad Greek!