This is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place right on Lighthouse, just outside the DLI's Bolio Gate, kind of diagonal from the Coast Guard base.
We walked in and found a tiny dining room, maybe 8 feet by 35 feet. A tiny man behind the counter was doing everything. After a moment, he looked at us, said, "For two? Sit there in the corner." Then he proceeded with a system of cooking, waiting, seating, and serving that was almost a dance.
There was a wait -- there will be, just prepare for this and don't be in a hurry -- and one couple turned away because he would not serve "something quick." The older man just looked at them and said, "You see these people? They're ahead of you. I can't skip them, for you. Sit down, wait."
It didn't seem like long, because watching the unique system seemed like entertainment. Every motion was precise, and every customer was waited on in turn; seated, orders taken, food cooked, food served, checks taken -- it was like watching a chess grandmaster playing several games at once. It was amazing.
The food was excellent. Everything was fresh, and everything was served hot. It was tasty, toothsome, and flavorful. I had the gyros plate. The meat was served on the plate, with the quarter-circle pita on a side plate, and a side of tabouli and a generous helping of hummus. The tabouli was remarkable, and I've never tasted another tabouli quite like it. Also, I'm not a big fan of hummus, but I'll make an exception here. The gyros, of course, were wonderful -- just the right seasoning, and good, tasty meat. The pita was so fresh he might have made it there.
When he came around to leave the check (and in the same motion bus the table across from us as he stepped back behind the counter to ring up another customer), there were two bites of baklava -- tender, flaky, sweet, perfect baklava.
We took our time eating, and ordered Turkish coffee afterwards -- the thick, rich, strong Turkish coffee that is almost impossible to find locally. The kind that is served in its own tiny coffeepot. The kind that teaches you what coffee is all about.
I have had many meals on better plates (he serves on paper) and I have had many meals served faster, but there have been few meals in my life that I have enjoyed more. This was truly a meal apart, and the gentleman who runs the place is an artist. I highly recommend this place to anyone who is even passing near it.
Three tips: Plan ahead, because you will wait; Be prepared to eat from paper plates; and expect the best Mediterranean food you've ever eaten.
BTW: I first tried to review this under the name Paprika and then Paprika/Tabouli. Both names are on the signs outside.
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