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May 19, 2009
District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
October 21, 2004
As several other IgoUgo guides have attested in their journals, Niko Niko’s is a great little Greek café located in the heart of Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. The restaurant started life over 20 years ago as a humble little gyro stand in a converted gas station with a couple of picnic tables out front for seating. It didn’t take long for the place to catch on, as Houstonians lined up for Niko Niko’s tender gyros meat served up hot in fresh pita bread with cool tomatoes and onions and a generous topping Tzatziki sauce. As the restaurant expanded so did the menu. Several expansions to the old gas station resulted in increased seating and the restaurant taking on somewhat of a ramshackle appearance, complete with a slanted floor that was installed incorrectly. No longer was Niko Niko’s simply a gyro stand, but a full-fledged restaurant with a full menu of Greek favorites. And the crowds kept coming for the great food and lively atmosphere. When I first moved to Houston and discovered this great place in 2000, I quickly learned to go early if I was in a hurry because of the lines and lack of parking. I also learned that the middle of the summer, it wasn’t a great place to go for lunch due to the summer heat overwhelming the restaurant’s few window, air-conditioning units.
A recent expansion of Niko Niko’s has transformed it from an old gas station with a couple of expansions to a new, large restaurant. While much of the old atmosphere and charm is gone, the new larger kitchen, two cash registers, expanded seating areas, and new parking lot handle the crowds much more efficiently. Even with the new building, owner Dimitrios Fetokaki did his best to ensure that much of the restaurant’s charm remained unchanged. The original wooden tables and benches, with rolls of paper towels on each one, were kept in the dining room, as was the old slanted floor (the new building was built surrounding the old one). Food is still served on Styrofoam plates with plastic utensils. And the food is just as wonderful as it’s always been.
As for the food, it’s kind of hard to go wrong with any of the traditional Greek plates or sandwiches. I’m a big fan of the gyros sandwich and gyros plate, as well as any of the combination plates (gyros/souvlaki, souvlaki/chicken kebob, and gyros/chicken kebob). All plates and sandwiches are served with a choice of oven-roasted potatoes, rice, or French fries. I’ve never tried the rice, but the oven-roasted potatoes are quite good, and the homemade seasoned French fries are almost sinfully delicious. Other good choices I have tried are the large Greek salad, spinach and feta cheese sandwich, and the spanakopita and tiropita. And if Greek food isn’t your thing, several fried and broiled seafood options and hamburgers are also on the menu.
From journal Houston - The Best of the Rest
by Lauren T
December 11, 2001
We quickly realized that we were in the wrong place and left in search of the restaurant where our friends were waiting for us. Upon returning to the car my companion commented 'You know, that place looked pretty good.' I had to agree with him, so we agreed to come back here (We did finally find the place we were looking for).
The next week we returned, and much like on our first visit (and every visit since) it was crowded. However, the line moves right along so you never have to wait that long and it always seems like there are just enough tables-every time I visit here I feel like I am grabbing the last available table but I have never once discovered that there were no tables available.
I almost always order the gyro sandwich, less because it is delicious than because I am really cheap and the gyro sandwich provides a filling meal for $5.95 (it is really good, though). The gyro sandwich, as all of the meals, comes with a choice of French fries, rice, or boiled potatoes. Although I tend to wonder about people who order French fries (or hamburgers) at ethnic restaurants, the fries are really, really tasty and by far the best option of three in my opinion.
While I tend to order the gyro sandwich, whatever other entrees I have tasted there have all been excellent. The last time I visited, the friend who accompanied me ordered a roast chicken dish and it was particularly good. Although the gyro plate is my budget choice, prices are uniformly low and the more expensive dishes (mostly lamb) are between ten and twelve dollars.
Niko Niko's also does quite a lot of takeout business and is a good choice if looking for something to take home or out to a picnic.
From journal Restaurants and other activities in Houston