When my family and I managed to beat all odds and get Hamilton tickets through the lottery, we knew we wanted to make it an evening out by also getting dinner.
But Dad had just one decree: “I want to get eat something light. Those tickets were expensive and I’ll be damned if I fall asleep from a food coma!”
We decided to go to Meze Greek Fusion in the Gaslamp since it was only a mile from the theater and, being Greek, it was likely to have lots of vegetarian items for my wife. Also, “meze” is a Greek term for small plates so the chances of me getting heavy foods that might encourage that dreaded food coma were slim.
Like many Gaslamp places, Meze is huge — about three stories. We found a nice table on the second floor that allowed a nice view of the many TV sets at the bar.
345 Sixth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
Typically, Greek food, like Mexican, is one of those cuisines that is on the cheaper side, so much so that people might blanch at paying Gaslamp prices. Granted, the dishes here are a few dollars more per item than at your neighborhood Greek place, but the setting and the service (and the full bar) make Meze a worthy downtown stop.
We started off with two standard Greek appetizers: Feta and olives ($10) and the dolmas ($11). The cheese was high-quality feta: tart, pleasantly crumbly, with a nice smooth taste. The olives were a good blend of different type of Greek-style olives. The dolmas were also good quality.
That said, much of the price here is the Gaslamp surcharge.
The saganaki ($16) was when the action really started: A slab of kasseri cheese flambéed in brandy into an ooey gooey delight. Our waiter put on a show with the flaming fromage, and the final result was full of flavor. One downside for my vegetarian wife: It looked like the plate that held the flaming cheese had previously been used for meat, and she could taste hints of beef. If you’re a stickler about that, make sure you speak to the waiter beforehand.
Next came an octopus appetizer ($14): One char-grilled tentacle served with a salad and a lemony dressing. The octopus had a nice chew and paired with the lemon dressing. One tentacle seems small for sharing — especially because the tentacles are bigger at one end then the other, so you might want to get extra portions if you have octopus lovers in your group.
I was a fan of the meatballs ($10), which mixed ground beef and lamb with feta cheese, garlic, onion, and mint and topped with a red-pepper sauce. The cheese made this dish pop. I’ll take the red-pepper sauce as an alternative to tomato sauce next time.
My wife enjoyed the Spanakopita ($11), which was sort of a Hot Pocket-like pie made with puff-pastry dough. It was nice and crispy on the outside, with a nice blend of spinach, garlic, and feta filling.
The Lemon Potatoes ($7) were great. We scarfed up before we remembered to take a photo. It happens.
I was happy with the meal — it was a nice, light dinner before Hamilton. Some may find the prices a little steep compared to other Greek places, but they’re in keeping with the other restaurants nearby. I’d definitely come back but would double up on the octopus.