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An Afternoon in Tarpon Springs

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July 30, 2014 / Greek / By
Ryan Dickinson

Tarpon Springs is a unique and charming little town in Pinellas County, Florida. Not only is it home to several beaches that are popular for swimming and picnicking; but it is also home to a thriving natural sponge industry. The town is lined with little shops selling various types of sponges in different shapes and sizes. There is even a Historic Sponge Exchange that makes for an informative and interesting afternoon activity.

I’ve been to Tarpon Springs a few times in my life, but prior to last month I had only ever gone to soak up the sun and lounge on the beach. A few weeks ago I ventured into the town of Tarpon Springs with my parents to explore the sponge docks and poke around a few local shops.

The town, and the region in general, has a huge Greek population. It actually retains the highest percentage of Greek-Americans of any city in the United States. As a result, Tarpon Springs is teeming with Greek businesses and churches. There were also a large number of Greek restaurants within the town. My parents and I decided to eat lunch in a cozy looking Greek restaurant known as Plaka Restaurant. My aunt recommended that we eat at Plaka Restaurant noting that it is well-regarded for selling homemade souvlaki and gyros. At one point the gyros at Plaka Restaurant were voted the best in the world in a competition.  

I’ve never tried authentic Greek cuisine, but I have to believe Plaka Restaurant offers some of the best Greek food outside of the Mediterranean. My mother and I chose to split two entrees: a traditional Greek salad and gyro. Our gyro contained lamb and beef broiled on a rotisserie, onions, tomatoes, and Tzatziki sauce and was served wrapped on pita bread. My father, on the other hand, ordered chicken souvlaki. The food was all delicious and perfectly cooked. I especially loved the restaurant’s homemade Tzatziki sauce. As I mentioned above, this was one of my first experiences eating Greek food and I was thoroughly impressed. Even my mom thought it exceeded all of her expectations.

Additionally, Plaka Restaurant also had excellent service and a friendly atmosphere. Though its exterior wasn’t particularly impressive, it did contribute to the restaurant’s ‘hole in the wall’ vibe. Eating there felt like being privy to a well-kept secret. Despite its popularity in the local neighborhood, it wasn’t overly crowded and still felt like it was under the radar.

After lunch my parents and I stopped at a local fudge shop for some dessert. The fudge was incredibly rich and filling so, of course, I absolutely loved it.

All in all, Tarpon Springs is a wonderful little area. It has a colorful Greek culture and a distinct and interesting local industry. Overall it’s completely different from anyplace else I’ve visited in Florida. Anyone near this area should explore the sponge docks, go dolphin watching, and stop for lunch at Plaka Restaurant.   

Plaka Restaurant

Country: United States

Province/State: Florida

City: Tarpon Springs

Address: 769 Dodecanese Blvd.

Zip/Post Code: 34689

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: 727-934-4752

Website:http://plakatarponsprings...

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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