112 W. Washington Street, Mission Hills
At the nexus of Hillcrest and Mission Hills, on Washington Street, in the generically named Mediterranean Café, a sign reads "Good food takes time." A block over, the fast food franchise Daphne's California Greek doesn't ascribe to the same theory.
Now, I'm not going to rag on Daphne's. The company retooled a couple years ago and started pushing notions of "Feeding mind, body and soul" with "integrity" and "freshness". All such noble stuff, and I can only imagine they took a look at Chipotle's success serving actual food and said "that".
But it's still a fast food chain, and whether or not the U-T readers poll wants to declare it San Diego's best Greek restaurant three years running, I'm pretty sure we can do better.
After all, here's the slow-food-espousing Mediterranean Café, on the same side of the street and everything. They might as well share a parking lot.
Inside, the place certainly feels Greek — not a Disney-fied Greek, but with bare plaster walls, a few ethnic splashes of color and an atmosphere that reads 'let the outside world hurry, in here we're content to experience the moment.' Plus maybe a little daytime television.
I've never dug too deep into the Greek culinary canon. Chicken pita wraps always sound good, and I'm a never-ending search for great baba ghanoush, even if Greeks prefer to call it eggplant dip or salad.
So I ordered one of each and sat down to wait. It's pretty casual all the way around, but clean and comfortable enough, well-lit but shaded enough to provide refuge from our scorching-hot winter sun.
My eggplant dip showed up, and it was fine but not what I'd hoped. It's a bit stringy and gives eggplant too much credit for tasting good of its own volition. My search continues. However, the warm, slightly crispy pieces of pita made eating it quite satisfying, so I'll call it a draw.
The chicken wrap also benefitted from a warm fresh pita. The chopped chicken breast inside was flavorful and well cooked, and the tzatziki cut through admirably to keep it saucy and succulent.
Is Mediterranean Café good enough wrest the "best Greek" crown from Daphne's? Yes. In Mission Hills, at least. City-wide might be another story for another day.