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If the sun is out and the wind is down, head to Gardens for some authentic honest greek. On just such a Sunday afternoon, 4 of us decided to put it to the test.

Situated upstairs from the legendary villa tavern and 7 eleven, owner run (Marika and husband), Marika’s has awesome views of table mountain as well as the harbour.

The vibe is casual and the interior light and airy with whitewashed tables and minimal décor (typically framed island imagery a big focus), with an easy atmosphere reminiscent of a greek taverna. Glass sliding doors open up onto the balcony where the view can really be appreciated.

On the menu you will find all the expected classics: lots of mezes to choose from as well as pita’s, baked lamb, fish, souvlakia, moussaka and the list goes on.

As some of us were not that hungry, the waiter suggested we share a meze platter for R145 (choose any 5 mezes from the menu).  We could, of course, not stick to 5 only and topped up our platter with a few more. I must say that the portions were generous, and the original platter would certainly have sufficed. You never know these days with tapa portions being anything from 2  baby haloumi pieces to (as in this case) a whole bowl full. At least there was no fighting over the last tentacle or any slapping away of stray hands sneaking a taste.

From the meze menu we sampled dolmades (R38), grilled (R45) and pickled baby calamari(R38), lamb cigars (40), fried haloumi (R50), taramasalata (R35), spanakopita (R30) and lots of hot, soft pita bread (ordered extra at R6 each). Everything was highly enjoyable, but the taromasalata was fantastic! Salty, lemony, fishy, lovely… everything I could hope for as a huge fan! Others had the swordfish main (R98), which was the linefish of the day, and the calamari main (R90), half grilled, half fried, both served with a massive bowl of crispy delicious potato wedges (You can choose between greek pasta rice, wedges or greek salad). The swordfish was excellent, a meaty hunk of game fish, similar to tuna, and best enjoyed underdone. It was topped with a smooth lemon butter sauce. The calamari was apparently very good too as the plate was empty before we had dipped our first pita…

To see what else is on offer, have a look at the full menu and wine list on dining out.

For dessert we had Nougattine cake (layers of meringue, nougat, nuts and whipped cream) and home-made halva ice-cream. Enough said. Other options include baklava, greek lemon yoghurt and Bougatsa (semolina filled phyllo parcels dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar).

The wine list is small and slightly limited with the options under R100 jumping to over R200 with very little in between. Best bring your own if you feel like something specific, although you are only allowed one bottle per party at R25 corkage. The house wine is a good option and comes in a Sauvignon blanc, Chenin and Merlot.

What you’ll find at Marikas is nothing mindblowing, but a cheerful and unassuming neighborhood restaurant with tasty food, offering good value for money that will have you coming back for more.

176 upper Buitenkant, Gardens
Phone: 0214652727
Lunch and dinner tues-sat , sun lunch

What others have to say:

Rossouws Restaurants: (do yourself a favour and buy the guide, its worth it!)

4/5 reader and critic average scores, also rated in the best value under R150 section in the journal scoring 2/3 stars which is explained as highly recommended for great food and more, a very dependable option’.

The journal write-up:
A simple but real family-style Greek where the mother is in the kitchen for happily authentic food. Upstairs from a supermarket, it has views and a balcony. The interior is festooned with bright images of the isles, the tables too, while the general feeling is very casual, even sparse. The menu lists the classics, and the slow-roasted lamb (arni sto fourno) is excellent. Mezes are also recommended (the fried items well done), with proper home-made dolmades, and meat portions are generous.

A Reader’s review:  Not stylish, not trendy, but oh! what tastes! The waiter assured me that the garlic in the skordalia will stay with me for at least three days … not sure if that is true, but I would happily frightened all around me for more of that delicious dish. Each item on our meze was delicious with individual tastes standing out. The grilled calamari and meatballs were “to die for” and my companions raved about the lamb burger and the peri-peri chicken. The service was friendly without being over-bearing and we liked the scope of the small wine list. Mos definitely an above-average experience. Must go back soon to experience some of the other delights.

Eat out:

Starters include old favourites like dolmades and skordalia, but since they’re so hard to get anywhere else, have the flamegrilled sardines or fried whitebait. You can’t go wrong with the slowbaked lamb for mains, and those going meat-free will be sated by the vegetarian moussaka topped with a souffléd white sauce…. Read more

Eat Cape Town:

The cuisines of the East Mediterranean and Middle East have much in common, sharing hummus, brinjal, whether as a dip or stuffed, tzatziki (yoghurt with garlic and cucumber) and lamb cooked on a spit (gyros in Greece or doner kebab in Turkey).   For that we probably have the Ottoman Empire to thank.

Marika’s has a reputation for being the exception to the rule.  To start here it’s grilled sardines and then dolmades from the mezze menu.  The two cute sardines, which are locally often of poor quality, are just the right side of fishy, with raw onion rings and lemon to further cleanse the palate of the sea.

The dolmades, which means stuffed, come with the option of the traditional vine leaf wrapping or cabbage.  The waiter says he prefers the cabbage version, presumably because the leaf is fresh while the grape is preserved in brine.  I think I’ve only enjoyed dolmades once before as the bitter-sour taste of the preserved vine overpowers the rice.  Young tender vines leaves should be used…. Read more

Olivia’s Kitchen:

This little gem is a family run Greek restaurant which has just relocated. Many people may recognise as the place in Bakoven, Camps Bay but has just moved to Gardens 1 month ago. Situated above the Seven Eleven on UpperBuitenkant Street near Garden Centre. Here you will find authentic Greekfood prepared by the Mother of the family with the husband and sons managing the floor… read more

Trip advisor:

Situated in untouristy but bustling Gardens-Vredehoek, Marika’s is a great place to while away a light lunch or winy dinner. Not great on decoration, the rather bare interior can get quite noisy, but it’s a happy human noise rather the amplified music that can be such a pain in ‘trendy’ restaurants. I’m not an expert on Greek food, but the food here strikes me as pretty authentic — plenty of tasty meze (the meze platter, consisitng of your choice of five meze from the extensive menu, is a good deal, and makes for pleasant sharing and comparing), and the usual Greek mains of fish, lamb and moussaka. The house wine, a very drinkable Merlot, is good value for mony — as indeed, is the restaurant asa whole. Service is friendly and efficient. A great place for an eveing out with friends, or, on a fine day, for a lazy lunch on the balcony, overlooking Table Mountain.

To learn more about greek cuisine, check out greekfoods.com .
Hope this helps! Let me know if you’ve been?