Those who’ve eaten at either of Thomas Soukakos’ two Vios Cafés can attest to the warm welcome and genuine family-friendly attitude of the staff. Often, through the years, it’s been Soukakos himself who’s greeted us at his restaurants, offering sweet relief in the form of a glass of wine as we waited for a table, showing our small children to the little play area in the back.
But as Soukakos’ own young son, Alexander, outgrew Vios, so did his parents’ friends and their kids. The result is Omega Ouzeri (pronounced “Oo-zari”), an airy, sophisticated space where white walls set off hand-painted blue and white tiles and sturdy chairs painted the brilliant blue hue of the Greek flag. Well-behaved children are still welcome, but Omega’s atmosphere leans much more toward date nights and groups of well-heeled friends toasting occasions with ouzo and cocktails, all of which incorporate traditional Greek liqueurs.
I suggest the Mastiha Dream ($12), with gin, cucumber, lemon and mastiha, an herbal, licorice-flavored liqueur, but the staff is happy to introduce newbies to ouzo and tsipouro (a Greek brandy) (there are eight on the list). Mezes—small plates in the $6–$14 range designed for sharing—dominate the menu, among them saganaki ($10), a griddled cheese with fig and mavrodafni (Greek fortified wine) sauce; tender dolmathes in a buttery avgolemono sauce ($10); and superb grilled octopus—charred perfectly, fork tender—in a sweet-hot goat horn chile vinaigrette ($14).
Weekly specials—such as an aromatic braised lamb stew on one of my visits—are worthy of special consideration, and do opt to share one of the three platters on offer. The chicken gyro plate ($20) was outstanding, the meat grilled to a moist finish and served with a chunky tzatziki sauce, crisp herby fries, a side Greek salad and warm, pliant pita. Leave without ordering the doughnuts (loukamades, $9) in a gently spiced honey syrup and you leave a fool. Capitol Hill, 1529 14th Ave.; 206.257.4515; omegaouzeri.com