At the Italian Market in Center City, Koukouzeli beckons with its modest design, boasting its menu on a blue and white exterior. Inside, you’ll find a rustic ambiance and a cozy restaurant, perfect for a quiet dinner date with your significant other.
The walls are filled with photographs of the owner’s family and illustrations of Greece. An elevated display next to the entrance including a Greek flag and columns, it highlights the restaurant's authenticity to patrons. It helps that the employees are welcoming and invested in your experience.
The menu is chock–full of options—appetizers, salads, and gyros galore. Koukouzeli accommodates for plant–based consumers too, with numerous vegan options.
We ordered a bunch of appetizers. An immediate highlight is the Dolmades, a common mediterranean dish with a slight twist. Grape leaves and stuffing are surrounded by a unique crisp dough, which combine to provide a rich, savory tang with a hint of a tart aftertaste. We tried Kolokithia, a flame grilled zucchini that perfectly balances soft and crunchy alongside a hint of spice, the Avgolemono, a lemon chicken soup with a heavenly aroma that neatly mixes salty and sour tastes, and the Tzatziki and Pita, a traditional dip with a burst of tangy juiciness. It would be a disservice not to mention the delicious Tiri and Koukou fries, which are topped with feta and mizithra cheese, respectively, and provide a surprising sweetness.
Moving on to the main courses, the Vegan Gyro is outstanding as the seitan, fries, tomato, and tzatziki were deliciously flavorful. The Bifteki with fresh, well–cooked beef in a pita platter, was satisfying and filling. The Tomatosalata felt like the essence of a Greek salad, mixing tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, pita, tzatziki, onions, and peppers in sweet–and–sour brilliance. You can’t go wrong with any entree choice. Don’t miss the minty Wildflower Iced Tea, which flawlessly complements the meal.
The service was efficient. The wait for appetizers and entrees was no more than a few minutes. Furthermore, the restaurant works hard to be environmentally friendly—straws are given only upon request, and the containers for takeout are recyclable.
Overall, Koukouzeli nails it—with excellent hospitality and delicious options such as the dolmades, Tiri and Koukou fries, and vegan gyro, you can’t go wrong. The comforting locale elevates Greek food to new heights and serves as a solid dinner destination for any given night.
TL;DR: An excellent authentic selection of Greek cuisine with a few innovations, certain to satisfy your palate.
Location: 1134 S. 9th Street
Hours: Monday–Tuesday: Closed, Wed–Thurs: 5 p.m.–9 p.m., Friday: 5 p.m.–10 p.m., Saturday: 12 p.m.–10 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.–9 p.m.