A complaint I hear often is that Henderson — and Summerlin, so I guess it’s a ’burb thing — has a surfeit of chain restaurants and not enough of the mom-and-pops. It’s a valid argument on the whole, and comes into focus whenever another good spot closes.
But that has been happening less and less as the recession/depression gradually wanes, and new mom-and-pops are starting to appear with more frequency. One of them is The Great Greek in Henderson, which has the personal touch inherent to a mom-and-pop. I’m not sure if Pop was in the house — there were a number of possible Pops — but I’m pretty sure that was Mom serving the food, with the personal air that all the corporate training in the world just can’t muster.
The personal touch extended to the food as well. I’ve always loved gyros, and this was one of the best gyros I’ve had in a while. The pita was warm and pillowy and it was stuffed with lots of slices of meat, plus tomato and red onion and enough lettuce that it provided crunch but clearly wasn’t being used as a filler. And the presentation was downright artistic, the gyro positioned in its foil-and-paper wrapping to form a sort of fan shape at the top, with feta cheese showered across the filling and a plump whole pepperoncini perched atop.
The price was pretty reasonable as these things go — $7.50 — and we decided to make it a combo with the avgolemeno soup (with a fountain drink, $3 extra), a Greek classic. The soup, served in a large bowl, was a silken wonder, clearly flavored with lemon and stocked with just enough rice and chunks of chicken for the right amount of texture. After we got about halfway through it was clear it was a tad salty, but only a tad.
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki ($11.95) was similarly well prepared, the marinated chunks of chicken possessed of a lovely tenderness and warm-spice flavors. Rice pilaf (french fries were the other option) was way better than most, with chunks of tomato and onion and lots of seasonings. The Greek salad also was better than most, romaine with feta and red onion and kalamata olives and the works.
They were out of the more interesting tirokafteri (whipped feta with roasted red peppers) so we went with the more conventional hummus ($3.95), but once again, it was better than most. It had a nice float of extra-virgin olive oil and was creamy, with a few whole garbanzos sprinkled atop for an offbeat touch. Lots of warm pillowy pita triangles with this one as well.
We also tried the baklava ($3.50), although we had to get it to go. It was on the basic side, with cinnamon and walnuts the predominant flavors, and very nice.
About the only thing that wasn’t better than most was the atmosphere of this strip-center counter-service spot. It was OK — clean and neat — but without a lot to look at.
So you’ll just have to focus on the food.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or email her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.