Taziki’s: Fresh, Fast Mediterranean

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

A Greek vacation inspires a Mediterranean café in Birmingham. Wholesome ingredients and innovative ideas from the Greek Islands, Mediterranean markets and mom’s kitchen synthesize, creating the dishes that make up the café’s fresh and healthy menu. Then Taziki’s Mediterranean Café sprouts one location after another across the Southeast, also adding many scrumptious new dishes.

The Owners

Taziki’s owners Keith and Amy Richards took a vacation to the Greek Islands in 1998. Inspired by the Mediterranean cafes and the region’s fresh flavors and healthy ingredients, the pair came home to Birmingham and opened their first restaurant. They have since opened 17 other Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafés, with two more coming soon.

The Locations

Taziki’s has six metro Birmingham area locations: Chase Lake, Colonnade, Mountain Brook, Lee Branch, Liberty Park and UAB. They also have cafes in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa and will be opening soon in Montgomery. Plans include 50 cafes in five years and 100 in 10 years. While Taziki’s is already successful in the Southeast, with franchises and joint ventures in Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia, Richards wants to create more partnerships, not just open more cafes.

The Nutrition

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café not only serves healthy fare, it helps calculate calories, carbs and more online. On Taziki’s website at TazikisCafe.com, there is a nutrition button. Click here to find nutritional aspects of each of Taziki’s menu items. It lists calories, cholesterol, fat, calcium, sodium, iron, carbs, vitamins A and C, fiber, protein and WWP+.  It will also add the total of each of these nutritional aspects for more than one menu item as you add a ticket for each.

Favorite Fare

I am always excited when one of my Liberty Park neighborhood restaurants adds new menu items. Working from my home office, I dine in and take out Taziki’s for lunch frequently. And my newest favorite is the whole roasted lemon–herb chicken, which can be ordered in half or in one-fourth sizes, with white meat only as an option. The top quality and deep flavors of this moist, slow-roasted, beautiful bird made it love at first bite. It is served with a tasty, deep, dark reduction of onions, white wine and fresh oregano. The fragrant, long-grained and free-flowing basmati rice makes a perfect side to both the chicken and its reduction. This dish comes with a classic Greek side salad and thin, crisp pita chips so good they are addictive. The Mediterranean salad has been a long-time favorite of mine. Lovely, crisp mixed lettuces are tossed with garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers, red onions, diced fresh tomatoes, roasted pecan pieces and creamy bites of feta. This salad is served with a side of Taziki’s homemade balsamic vinaigrette, which adds a tangy acidity. I add grilled shrimp to satisfy my seafood craving and to add a hearty serving of protein to this plate. Other options for topping it your way include roasted lemon–herb chicken, grilled chicken or turkey breast, beef or pork tenderloin, grilled lamb or salmon. Eating healthy does not translate to small portions. And Taziki’s is famous for their feasts. The Herb Roasted Pork Loin Feast arrives with three tender, grill-marked pork-loin slices enhanced by Taziki’s signature blend of herbs and seasonings and served with their tomato chutney aioli and sides of crisp grilled asparagus and   roasted new potatoes. Life is too short not to order a dessert occasionally. So we share their scratch-made, moist and delectable dark-chocolate cake with Richmond icing and the crisp, rich, sweet layers of Baklava from Hellas Bakery.

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