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Back Issues
2012 - Spring Issue
¡Comidas Sabrosas!
World Cuisine
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Jesse Ramirez
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For authentic Greek cuisine, your options are limited in this area, but tucked away in a shopping center on Mesa Street in El Paso is a charming eatery that will transport you to the Mediterranean, at least for your lunch hour. Owner and Executive Chef Zino Souikni has truly brought something special and very authentic to the borderland. Coming from a family of five chefs, he took to cooking naturally and at a young age. He also gained a strong appreciation for only the freshest and finest ingredients while growing up in the heart of Athens with its fishermen's wharfs and farmer's markets. This appreciation becomes evident when you smell, taste and experience the flavorful dishes on the menu at Zino's Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine.


Zino's Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine
7040 N Mesa St.
El Paso, TX 79912
While it is true, authentic Greek food you will get at this quaint café, Zino's palette and cooking skills have been honed and developed all over the world. He worked at restaurants all throughout Europe for 20 years, but after meeting his American wife, Jody, while she was visiting Athens, he ventured to the states. He attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Las Vegas and then perfected his skills at prestigious venues including The Venetian, The Bellagio and The Four Seasons. After moving to his wife's hometown of El Paso, he took a job as an instructor for the El Paso Community College culinary arts program. It soon became apparent to Zino and Jody that there was a big void in the restaurant scene in El Paso and in 2011 they opened the restaurant, finally bringing authentic Greek cuisine to the city.

The restaurant features walls painted in Mediterranean blue, Grecian music in the background and a menu resplendent with all the classic dishes of Greek cuisine. In the true Greek tradition of food appreciation, all the food right down to the yogurts and pita bread are handmade from scratch using only the finest ingredients. This, Zino notes, is what truly sets Greek cuisine apart. "We use only fresh ingredients – dandelion, olive oil, cheeses, lemon juice. Everything is very healthy," he says, "The taste, the spices, the flavors are different than any other type of cuisine."

The menu features appetizers such as perfectly crisped calamari with a side of slightly spicy marinara and a cheesy shrimp saganaki (Chef Zino's favorite), which are the ideal foundations to a genuine Greek culinary experience. With just tomato, red onions, cucumbers and a thick slice of creamy feta drizzled in fresh olive oil, the traditional Greek village salad is also a must. If you haven't yet acquired the taste for feta (it is an acquired taste, but once you acquire it you will be smitten) the Athenian salad with a Greek lemon dressing is a viable alternative. For an entrée, you can't go wrong with the moussaka. This layered dish of smooth sliced potatoes, seasoned ground beef and fresh eggplant is baked to golden brown perfection, and it tastes as good as it looks. The traditional gyro, the restaurant's most popular dish, is another can't miss choice. Rotisserie beef and lamb are thinly sliced and wrapped with lettuce, tomato and onion in soft, warm pita bread. The side of fries are crisp and wonderfully seasoned. No Greek meal is complete without something sweet and honey laden. Zino's baklava goes the extra mile by including pistachios and orange to create the perfect flavor balance.

As avid travelers, Zino and Jody enjoy garnering inspiration from the cuisines and flavors of the world. They recently visited Alaska where they got to spend a day on the fishing boat Aleutian Ballad made famous by the TV show The Deadliest Catch. Other recent adventures include trips to Puerto Vallarte, Cabo San Lucas and various areas of Mexico where Zino says they are always on the look out for new recipes and food sources. Though Zino will continue to appreciate the culinary arts of the world, his heart will always be in the fresh, flavorful dishes of his home country and you can be sure you are getting a true taste of Greece at this delightful bistro. ///
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