READERS' PICK: Who doesn't love Athens' spacious dining room, where you can take in some Greek television at the bar, or settle into a cozy, white-linen covered table to peruse the extensive menu? Athens does everything with grace, from the friendly reception by a mostly Greek welcoming committee, to Mediterranean dishes that sparkle with rich olive oil, fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs. The secret here is the fish, which is always a fresh catch that owner Andreas Delfakis has selected with a care rumored to border on fanaticism. You'll also find all the heartier lamb dishes, and a mouthwatering moussaka (a Greek lasagna of sorts). Start with a grappa apéritif and finish with honey-soaked pieces of baklava. It's enough to make you want to book the next flight to the old country.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Olive Tree Restaurant, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Road. We have these friends whose lives seem perfect: they love their jobs, they have a great marriage, lots of friends, harmonious relationships with their families and in-laws.... And when we asked them where it all began, they answered, "The Olive Tree." That was the first time her parents met her would-be husband, with the whole clan gathered around a big table on the patio next to a burbling fountain. They ordered every appetizer on the menu, the highlight of which was the "flaming cheese served with an enthusiastic shout" by a staff of trained professionals. Murmurs of approval escaped between mouthfuls of flaky spanakopita and tender morsels of lamb moussaka. Plates were swapped for the remainder of the meal -- inspired by longing for what someone else had ordered, but setting a precedence of moderation and sharing we're certain is at the heart of their happiness today. So if you want a happy life, eat at the Olive Tree. The end.
© 2018 Tucson Weekly