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Road Trip – THE MAD GREEK

PART ONE – KICKIN’ IT OLD SCHOOL

Heading to SoCal for a weekend in LaLa Land is pretty much a tradition in the ELV household. It’s fun to escape either the heat or cold of Vegas for more moderate climes, get a nice dose of real freeway congestion, and enjoy some pretty tasty eats in a culture that values something other that over-sized, celebrity-chef food factories. And since, as you know, ELV seeks nothing but the best when it comes to shoving things in his piehole, he and his staff always make their first stop at The Mad Greek in Baker.

Approaching TMG on that long exit ramp off I-15 an hour or so outside of Vegas, ELV is always left to wonder: The Greeks gave the world: art, sculpture, engineering, mathematics, birth control (in the form of pederasty), politics, literature, and philosophy…and now have only this:

…to show for it.

Where Greek civilization went off the rails is anyone’s guess. These days though, except for hackneyed food and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Greek-American culture is non-existent, and other than “cheeseborger, cheeseborger…,” there is nothing in the popular consciousness that defines it.

So forgotten is it, that this looks like the height of sophistication by comparison.

ELV (born Yanni Antonis Cutsumpas), mourns this sorry state of affairs, but tries to hoist the flag when he can, and do honor to the cuisine of his ancestors by eating it whenever possible.

And mostly, it’s just awful. Banal, boring and repetitive, the “cuisine” of Greece in America is so dumbed down that you could close your eyes and eat in a hundred different Greek restaurants and not find one, single, different dish or seasoning in any of them. In this regard, it shares much in common with Indian food in the United States.

But if you’re gonna take the plunge into this world of mediocrity, TMG is as good a place as any to grab a bite. Some things on the menu, like the pastries and shawarma, are actually worth pulling off the expressway for. Others, like the gyros (YEE-rohs), should keep you driving.

Like all “gyro” meat out west, TMG doesn’t shave layers of beef and lamb onto its pita bread, but rather that extruded, compacted, vaguely meat-like crud that most “gyro” restaurants churn out the way Arby’s does its fake roast beef sandwiches. Doner kebab-like, thinly-sliced, real meat is like a holy grail to true lovers of this sandwich, and the closest you can come to it here is a shawarma sandwich that contains (and tastes of) real chunks of beef and lamb. Combined with a decent tzaziki sauce, some surprisingly good rice, and one of their signature, real milk milk shakes, and you have enough protein to last you at least until you get to closer to the coast. And the Greek pastries, despite an unholy yellow glow emanating from the baklava, are still fairly good and fresh representatives of these (generally too-sweet) standards.

While The Mad Greek does nothing to dispel the low-brow stereotypes for which Greek food is known, neither will it overly dent your wallet or disappoint. For that, and the fact that it’s the only non-chain food outlet at this way station (other than the Alien Beef Jerky Store), is something for which travelers should be grateful.

Lunch or dinner for two will run around $30 — more if you’re real hungry. There’s also a burger and Mexican menu, but anyone who orders anything but Greek food here oughta have their head examined.

THE MAD GREEK

72112 Baker Blvd. (No joke, they call it a “boulevard” in this one-horse town.)

Baker, CA 92309

760.733.4354

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13 Responses to Road Trip – THE MAD GREEK

  • Ok first of all you actually used the words “doner kebabs” how do you know about that?

    Secondly, is there any place in town that serves gyros made with layers of meat vs the meat sausage thing that I keep finding? Please let me know I am craving a ‘doner kebab’ so bad!!!

  • First of all Donna, you should know that ELV is all-seeing and all-knowing in all things culinary…

    The word is “omniscient” and you are free to touch the hem of our garment should whence we meet.

    Secondly, good luck with that in this kebab-crappy town.

    ;-}

  • NO ROAD TRIP NEEDED—–CHECK THE NEW ONE NEXT TO THE ENCORE!!!!

    The Mad Greek Cafe 3049 S. Las Vegas Blvd Las Vegas, NV 89109 • 702-733-2188

  • I Love TMG!! Everytime I head west I make a pit stop in Baker. (I also enjoy the Sage Honey from the little alien shop next door.)

    I did happen to find a place in town that (if memory serves correctly) has a real doner kebab. It’s not a greek place, more middle eastern style, but the food is solid. Over on Fremont, just past the “Experience” going towards the El Co, on the right you’ll find Kabob Korner. It’s worth a try.
    http://www.usmenuguide.com/kabobkorner.html

  • The only acceptable gyro I’ve ever had was in Paris and prepared by a member of the Arab speaking world at that. It was finely shaved with the delicious crispy bits and topped with a mountain of liberally salted french fries.

  • ah.. the best donner kabab ever. Has to be in Hammersmith London round the corner from the (then) Palais the nite Eric Clapton played ..’83 if memory serves.

  • Oh ELV sooooo funny :). Thanks for the comment re: Kabob Korner.. I, at leastl, am going to try it for myself.

    Thanks!

  • The Mad Greek is an institution….I love the food…and the place is just packed day and night…..the question is why hasnt he moved to vegas…..its a sure fit….hmmm….keep it going studd….jj

  • Joel- He has moved to Vegas. There is an outpost at the corner of the Blvd and Convention Center, I ask and they are the same owners.

  • Hey Dean,
    Welcome to the party. Read the #3 comment.

  • jason or Dean,

    Where exactly is the Mad Greek and when did it open? Is it right along the Strip or on the Convention Center Dr. side? Or somewhere hidden in that plaza with all the other stores? I’m trying to visualize its location, because it’ll be until May when I can find out for myself. And you’re not talking the Greek Isles Hotel, that’s across the street from that Ethiopian restaurant, are you? And please pardon my pickiness. Thank you.

  • Very nice post.i really enjoy the reading. Thanks for sharing the post.

  • Thanks for your article. It has given me quite a bit to go over. Thank you again!

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