Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Not like all the others

I grew up with Greek people.  I've been lucky enough to experience Greek weddings, Greek funerals and feasts of the dead, Greek parties and Greek food.  Lots and lots of Greek food.  Most people around here will probably tell you that they like to eat Greek, but I bet you they will all cite the same cast of characters:  gyro, Greek salad, pizza and baklava.  These are all great dishes to be sure, but there is so much more to Greek cuisine.  

Ariana's is a new Greek restaurant in West Columbia, not far from the Botanical Garden entrance on 378.  

I'm not sure how long they've been open, but it hasn't been long.  I ventured in with my mom and a friend for lunch the other day.  They serve gyros, of course, but they also feature moussaka, pastichio, tandoori chicken, dolmades, and spanakopita.  But what's pleasantly different is that they also have tons of lamb dishes which is really hard to find anymore.  Back in the good old days, the Epicurean was THE place for lamb.  I remember lamb chops with mint, "lamb for lovers" and lamb chops "bandit style."  And these were real lamb chops too, not the miniscule "lamb-pops" that show up in our stores today.  Seriously, are they slaughtering these poor animals a week after they are born?  Well, Ariana's is serving lamb.  You can get souvlakia on a pita or as a platter, grilled lamb kabobs, and rarely seen items such as lamb with carrot, raisin & almonds, lamb stew and a spinach stew with lamb. And here is something my buddy The April Blake will relish:  there are 5 vegetarian dishes on this menu!

Side salad with a different vinaigrette

Dottie's lamb souvlaki plate with homemade tzaziki & Greek potatoes

I had spanakopita served with Greek potatoes

I also love the fact that their decor IS NOT the typical, tacky Greek restaurant decor.  It's bright, fresh and clean.  No weird marshmallow-like structures covering the ceiling, no Greek fishermen painted on the walls by someone's aspiring 3rd grader, no run-of-the-mill food service style chairs and hard plastic plates.  Ariana's uses modern place settings, cloth napkins and stylish furnishings.  However, I found it a bit odd that the table we had was not as long as the booth seats.  That was a little strange; hopefully something temporary. And, I must admit, I was duly impressed that the table is outfitted with a salt grinder full of lovely pink salt.  Very nice touch! 

The owner is on-site, the ingredients look and taste fresh, the menu is different and interesting and the prices are more than reasonable.  I hope this restaurant will enjoy long success here in Columbia.  For those of you who would like to venture out and expand your Greek food horizons, try them out.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times that a big ol' Greek pizza is calling my name and I wouldn't change that at all. But it is certainly refreshing to see a restaurateur open up and spotlight some lesser known Greek dishes.  And he's doing it well. 

Ariana's on Urbanspoon


  1. The side salad looks really good. The pink salt in a grinder is a nice touch. I'm in that area a couple of times a month. I will have to try Ariana's soon.

  2. I saw that place on the way back downtown earlier this week and want to try it out. But you know how partial I am to Nick's and Pitas. :)

  3. Now you have me convinced to try it. At first I was like eh, because I am honestly just not that big a fan of Grecian Gardens (however I love Nick's!), but I'll definitely roll that way soon since it's a mere few miles from home!

  4. WE have eaten there twice already. this place is the bomb. Can't wait to get back and try something else.

  5. Hi Elizabeth,
    I work with Moe over at Ariana's. Moe was very happy with your review about his restaurant. I am currently building the website for Ariana's. He wanted to know if we could use your photos on the website. I will gladly link back to your site for credit. If we can use them please let me know by emailing me at:
    Again thanks,
    Brandon Derrick



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