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Recession Obsession: Going Greek at Papa Cristo's

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Lamb + Goat Cheese Sandwich And Olives, Lots Of Olives
A Recession Obsession is, 1) a meal so great that it sticks in your mind long after digestion's end, and, 2) plays nice with your sensitive wallet. Is there a better place than Los Angeles to eat a wide variety of amazing food that happens to be inexpensive? Probably not. We're as lucky as we are well fed. We last obsessed over Randy's Donuts, and the 24/7 El Gran Burrito in Hollywood. Today, we obsess...

Some know my friend Jimmy as Jimmy The Greek. He’s a spanakopita snob, knows the name of that building on Yanni’s album cover, and could write a guidebook on the nightclubs of Mykonos. He’s pretty damn Greek. This, Brooklyn-bred, first-generation said that the best Greek food in Los Angeles can be found at Papa Cristo’s.

Their menu features a whole lamb, slow-roasted with garlic and greek spices, for $169.95. Gasp not, the catering menu stands on the regular menu. Most dishes on the only cost about $5-$8. Not bad for Jimmy The Greek’s favorite Greco-Angeleno grub. That’s why Papa Cristo’s is LAist’s latest Recession Obsession.

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This building at the corner of Pico and Normandie has been a local Mediterranean hub for about sixty years. That’s Jurassic by Los Angeles standards. (Six decades ago the Dodgers lived in Brooklyn, the Lakers called Minnesota home, and LAist was printed on a stone tablet.) Their market, C & K Importing is for any chef who wants to turn their home kitchen into Athens. But that’s not why we’re here. Our limited dollars stretch only for dinner.

Parthenon + On + On

Roast lamb, tangoing with warm goat cheese, smushed between crusty French bread, is the pictured sandwich. It smells as perfect as it tastes. The side of olives makes the entire plate all the right kinds of savory. This lambwich is $7.99, their priciest sandwich.

More expensive dishes can be had, their plates are all $12-$15. And while those feature sides of pita, tzatziki sauce, Greek potatoes and salad, they’re more than we need to spend. Bring a friend, split an appetizer (the sizzling feta and tomato always does the trick,) each grab a gyro, and you’ve got a great Greek meal that costs about $10. Fear not Veggie Friends. Papa Cristo's makes fresh falafel and moussaka (eggplant/cheese pie) for those who want a hearty meal without gnawing on animal flesh. The gratis olives help fill one's stomach too.

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When walking into Papa Cristo’s prepare to be smacked upside your face with warm wafts from falafel, spices, chicken, frying feta, and other fragrances. These scents will try and trick your wallet into thinking that there’s actually money in it. Remember, Recession Obsessionists, the economy’s acting like a big jerk. We don’t have to take it on empty stomachs, but let's be sensible. Next think you know, you’re ordering off of the catering menu with your new AMEX card. The miles, my ass.

If by meal’s end, your sweet tooth is mad at you for the savory-overload, there’s the galactobaklava. No, not the name of a newly discovered solar system, it's baklava topped with custard. It’s just $1.49 -- that’s $1.49 more than the parking costs. As Jimmy would say, opa!

  • Mon: Closed | Tues - Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. | Sun. 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Photos by Caleb Bacon (Twitter) for LAist

Where do you get your Greek? Comment Below!