This week I’m making my way through the Greek Islands, so I thought it would be the perfect time to tell you about one of my new favorite Greek (and Spanish and Turkish and Italian) restaurants in Richmond, Va.
Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Richmond’s North Side
Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen is the latest dining spot on North Side’s popular Macarthur Avenue. It’s diagonally across the street from another popular spot, Dot’s Back Inn, but you’ll notice the menu is distinctly different from the burgers and meatloaf Dot’s is known for.
When Jimmy Tsamouras and his wife Daniella bought Dot’s Back Inn over ten years ago, they kept making the classic diner-style dishes the restaurant was known for, but Tsamouras, a CIA graduate, also added some more creative specials to the menu. The dishes did well, but Dot’s will always be Dot’s, so when the opportunity to take over the closed Omega Grecian Restaurant space popped up, Tsamouras jumped at the opportunity. He opened Demi’s, a more modern Mediterranean-style grill last year.
Daniella designed the interior, which is dimly lit and just right for a date night or friends’ dinner, with gorgeous mosaics featuring the evil eye throughout. A long line of booths is perfect for small groups, while several tables along a long wall and in the front are easily pushed together for large groups. A bar in the corner is perfect for solo diners or grabbing a glass of Greek wine while you wait for a takeout order, as I know many neighborhood diners do on a regular basis.
Drink Selections at Demi’s
I started my visit with The Mati, a refreshing blend of Tito’s vodka, Masticha liquor, cucumber ribbons, and a splash of soda. Masticha is a Greek liquor made from mastic, a resin gathered from the tree with the same name The flavor is sometimes compared to licorice, but I think it’s a bit more herbal. It’s made on the Greek island of Chios, which I happen to be visiting this week, so look for a full report when I return! The drink was light and refreshing—perfect for a hot summer day. It is one of several craft cocktails on the menu, which live alongside a wide selection of Greek, French, Italian and other European wines, and local and international beers.
The Menu at Demi’s
We were quite hungry, so we ordered some spreads while we perused the rest of the menu. I love that you can choose two for $6, three for $8 or four for $10. You’ll see some standards like hummus as well as some more unique options like taramasmasalata, a Greek caviar spread. We went with skordalia, a creamy puree of potato, garlic, bread olive oil and vinegar that I hadn’t seen before; htipiti, whipped feta with roasted red peppers and olive oil; and tzatziki. All three were generous and tasty, but I enjoyed the skordalia for its uniqueness—I kind of wanted to forego the pita and eat it with a spoon.
Next we couldn’t help but sample the spanakopita—I almost always want to try this Greek standby when I see it on menus. Two flaky phyllo triangles were filled with just the right blend of spinach and feta. They were hot, flavorful, and on point.
In terms of entrees, I tasted the lamb kabobs, which were made from perfectly spiced ground lamb and served with a generous helping of rice pilaf and tazatziki. The calamari with sautéed white beans and arugula was light and summery. The main course show stopper was the shrimp Santorini—shrimp were sautéed with plenty of fresh garlic, tomatoes, herbs and gooey hot feta for a delicious fresh flavor combination. We let our server select the side—her recommendation of gigantes beans also cooked in tomato sauce made for a satisfying meal I’d love to eat again ASAP.
Did I mention that the menu at Demi’s is huge? There are about 8,000 things I’d like to return and try—specifically the broiled octopus appetizer with red wine vinegar, herbs and olive oil, the crispy fried eggplant, the dried apricots stuffed with ricotta cheese, Spanish almonds and topped with balsamic reduction, the baked oysters with spinach and feta, the olive and cheese fritters, one of the four types of mussels, and the list goes on.
Save Room for Dessert at Demi’s
By the way, don’t let all this savory food fill you up. When you go to Demi’s you’ll also need to save room for dessert. The day’s selection arrives at your table on an adorable little board and spans sweet cheese empanadas to galaktoboureko (not to be confused with galactic burrito), a Greek dessert featuring phyllo and custard. We went with the night’s special, a homemade peach pie topped with Greek custard ice cream, which was large, home-baked and perfect for summer.
I also snagged a piece of baklava to go—you know solely for research purposes. The next morning it was flaky, nutty, stacked high, rich, and just really, really good. The slice to-go might be a new tradition.