It’s a wild scene on this night out: Belly dancers and patrons shimmying on wooden table tops with diners and servers throwing fistfuls of napkins into the air yelling “opa!”, all while a DJ blasts thumping Greek music and Top 40 songs from his booth. Just another late night at Taverna Opa.
Located in Pointe Orlando off of busy International Drive, Taverna Opa is part of a family of restaurants stemming from South Florida. Locally, the restaurant is run by General Manager Vassilis Coumbaros, who spends his days and nights tending to the needs of Taverna Opa and making sure the ship runs smoothly.
On a recent visit, I saw Mr. Coumbaros watching over the servers, helping with the bar, and even assisting with the DJ-ing as the night went on. The Zorba dance song begins to play and the entire restaurant joins in on the Zorba, a traditional Greek line dance, that spins around the restaurant faster and faster, culminating with a heart-stopping table top dance off between the servers.
Usually, the lunch and early dinner time is more calm and serene, with more and more upbeat and raucous music turning on as the night goes on. It’s a great place for celebrations with groups that are looking for a different, and quite “‘Fun’ with a capital F” time.
The food here is just as good as the “Fun”, with dishes emphasizing fresh, high quality ingredients. For those dining in large parties, try some of their family style menu that comes with various courses depending on the price point. Start with some simple, but exquisite hummus, made with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle for you to mash yourself and served with pita bread. The saganaki, a vlachotiri cheese is served flaming, tableside with a brandy sauce. The oak-wood grilled octopus ($12.00) is a great appetizer, crispy and tender with just the right amount of chewiness and crunch.
For entrees, there is a nice list of seafood, lamb, beef, and chicken dishes to choose from, such as the traditional gyro platters to lamb shank, braised in fresh rosemary, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and red wine, and served on a bed of orzo. The lamb chops are a good choice too, marinated for 36 hours with fresh herbs and garlic and served with roasted potatoes. For seafood lovers, try the red American snapper, a grilled dish served with a lemon caper sauce and wild greens and rice. My favorite entree here however is the grilled seabass, a perfectly seared and rather filling fillet of seabass with a garlic, dill, and lemon zest served with wild greens and rice.
For dessert, try the sweet opa ekmek is a slice of kantaifi cake made with shredded phyllo dough walnuts, and topped with whipped custard cream or the baklava made with walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and honey.
Overall, if you are looking for a memorable, entertaining evening with good food and friends, try Taverna Opa out. You’ll be dancing on table tops and savoring a taste of Greece for days to come.
A new Chef’s Tasting Menu is available during the month. Call to make reservations ahead.
Diners and belly dancers together on the table tops
The Dining Room at Taverna Opa
Mortar and pestle hummus and pita at Taverna Opa
Oak wood grilled Octopus appetizer from Taverna Opa
36 hour marinated Lamb chops
Grilled Seabass with lemon zest
Red American snapper with a lemon caper sauce
Dessert at Taverna Opa
Baklava at Taverna Opa