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Athena: Opa!

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Athena: Opa!

The inside of Athena's new patio and open-roof addition.

The inside of Athena's new patio and open-roof addition.

The inside of Athena's new patio and open-roof addition.

The inside of Athena's new patio and open-roof addition.

By Sam Galanopoulos, Sports Editor

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With the Easter holiday just wrapping up, everyone can successfully say that they survived the grueling pain that comes with lent. From giving up your favorite kind of ice cream to saying no to any fast food, these annual challenges never seem to get easier. With that, there are many cultures that follow the same calendar, especially Greeks. Athena, a Greek and Mediterranean inspired restaurant, is famous for its authentic menu, especially during the holiday season. Athena is located in the southern Chicagoland area, in a cohesive wing called “Greek Town.” Surrounding restaurants, stores, and hubs are known for erupting in the Greek culture while serving some of the best dishes in town.

To begin, anytime you are seated in a Greek restaurant, you are automatically expected to order appetizers. The most traditional and authentic appetizer offered is Saganaki. Saganaki consists of a block of cheese that is fried in a pan until golden brown. With it comes the lighting of olive oil and the infamous “Opa!” scream that comes from each table as the saganaki ripples out of the kitchen. Other usual appetizers like a Kalamata salad, consisting of olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber, and green peppers, or Kalamari, which is a seafood recipe consisting of fried octopus and muscles that is served with a marinara-type sauce. These, along with many more, simply scratch the surface of Mediterranean cuisine.

In addition, all Greeks eat lamb. Whether it comes in the form of a filet, off the bone, or in some sort of stew, it is the foundation of foods. At Athena, their menu is catered to that concept, offering tons of different meats prepared to your individual liking. When I went to Athena on Easter, I ordered Paidakia, which are five lamb chops that are sliced off the bone. Each dinner menu is served with two sides, traditionally being rice and potatoes. Most of my family got dishes similar to my own. A few different dishes that were ordered were Pastitsio, which is compared to as lasagna but has ground beef inside and the noodles are circular rather than being flat. Another dish was chicken shish kabob, which in Greek is Souvlaki. It consists of grilled chicken, onions, and peppers. These were just a few of the amazing dishes that were selected throughout the span of the dinner.

Lastly, the tradition comes to life. Everyone knows the hype about easter eggs. The color, the size, which eggs crack, and which don’t. For my culture, we use only red eggs. The tradition is to crack the eggs against each other and whichever egg doesn’t crack continues to move on. The last leg standing without cracks is the winning egg and is the “lucky egg!” Being in a Greek restaurant, every table was doing it. The waiters, the bartenders, and the owners walked around the restaurant passing out eggs and participating with each section as much as possible. After the egg cracking, it is expected to stay for a cup of coffee and socialize until you have long overstayed your visit.

Every time I go to Athena’s, I have nothing but great things to say. The people, the food, and the environment are definitely a 10/10. Anytime you are looking for a higher end place to try for lunch or dinner, you should be sure to swing by Athena’s for the best Greek food around.

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