In 2002, Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a romantic comedy about a Greek woman marrying a non-Greek. It was a sleeper hit, and even drew an Oscar nomination for best screenplay. Taking their cue, Chris Tsailakas and John Roumanas opened the first MBFG Restaurant in 2003. Expanding rapidly around Phoenix (Mesa, Tempe, Chandler), they tackled their first Texas outlet last month on Stone Oak Parkway in the Green Fields Market Center. At lunch, traffic is light, but it builds up a bit on weekends, with the addition of live music.
The decor is standard-issue Hellenic, with wall paintings of imagined Aegean isles and piped-in Greek music, but MBFGR features sit-down service, unlike Papouli’s and Demo’s, where you order and pay at the counter. The staff is friendly, if a little overly attentive (not only did our waiter come by frequently to inquire if everything was okay, but four other servers also asked). The spacious dining area is augmented by an outdoor patio and a full-service bar with flat-screen TVs. The wine list is modest, and the prices of $7.50 to $9.50 per glass seem a shade high. A quarter of the wines are Greek, of which Boutari is probably the best known.
Meanwhile, only half the menu items are Greek meals; diners will find chicken, salmon, and steak in the mix. The four large dolmades we started with were packed with rice and ground beef, wrapped in grape leaves, and served with an egg, lemon sauce, and warm pita slices on the side. Thicker than usual, the dolmades were tasty, save for a noticeably heavy hand on the salt.
The Greek salads ($3 extra with meals) were large plates of lettuce, tomato, green pepper, and onion, sprinkled with feta chunks and graced with a single olive. The dressing was a mayo base rather than the expected traditional oil and vinegar. The plates featured Greek designs, but, not surprisingly, were made in China.
The veggie moussaka my companion ordered was a bit heavy on the potatoes and light on the eggplant. In addition, this heaping entree comes with sides of roasted potatoes and rice. If you like your starches, you’re at home here. The potatoes, by the way, tasted as if they were roasted in butter rather than oil. Accompanying and filling out the oversized plate were undercooked steamed veggies — broccoli, carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini. Whoever salted the dolmades was absent for the vegetables, as they were completely bland.
The highlight of the meal was my stuffed peppers, two humongous and delicious green bell peppers filled with a spicy rice and ground sirloin mixture under a mild béchamel sauce. My companion and I wound up taking half of each meal home. This isn’t bad if you like leftovers, but we thought it would be better to offer smaller portions and charge less for them. Most entrees are $13–$16, same price at lunch and dinner.
Assured that the desserts are made fresh, we enjoyed closing with the baklava. It was as good as any, rich and buttery, drizzled with honey and dressed with whipped cream. If you’re tempted, MBFGR offers a flambé version.
I’d suggest either splitting a meal between two if you’re not having the more affordable gyros, or bring your A-game appetite and figure a full meal and drinks for two will set you back $50–$60.
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant
19239 Stone Oak Parkway