I love, love, love Greek food. Falafel, feta cheese, hummus, you name it, I love it. What I don’t love is the severe lack of Greek Restaurants in Orange County. Aside from my beloved Chicken Dijon, I’ve been less than impressed with the Greek food selection OC has to offer.
After some extensive googling and yelp searching I stumbled upon a small restaurant in Aliso Viejo – Panini Cafe, which described itself as a Mediterranean slash Italian restaurant. The menu looked decent enough so the Englishman and I hopped in the car to check it out.
Panini Cafe is located in the main shopping center of Aliso Viejo. There is a small cafe inside and then a delightful little patio area. Since the patio was heated, we opted to sit outside and enjoy the mild weather.
We started with some drinks (pinot grigio for her, beer for him) and fresh pita and foccacia bread. I really enjoyed the fact that the pita was whole wheat and not white.
For entrees I went with the Dolmadas (aka stuffed grape leaves with raisins, meat, and rice) and the Englishman went with the Moussaka (a classic Greek dish with eggplant and meat). When the entrees arrived they were HUGE. I’m talking easily feed 2 people huge. Each entree came with hummus, a greek salad, and tzatziki dip.
The Dolmadas were good but a bit too sweet for my liking. I tried bites of the Englishman’s Moussaka and actually enjoyed that more. Overall the food was decent (high marks for the hummus and tzatziki) but nothing mind-blowing.
But the price was right and the portions were plentiful enough that we had leftovers the next day. If you do stop by Panini Cafe I definitely recommend splitting an entree or just sticking with appetizers – trust me, you get more than enough food here.
While this may not be the uber-delicious Greek food I was hoping for, it did hit the spot. I feel a return trip is necessary, even if it is just for the whole wheat pita and hummus.
26611 Aliso Creek Road
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656