The Yiasou Greek Festival started in 1978, quickly becoming one of Charlotte’s most anticipated events over the years. Yiasou (Greek for for Hello, Goodbye and Cheers) is on it’s 34th festival, and this year participants can experience live music and performances, cultural exhibits, lectures and tours, and open-air markets offering jewelry, crafts, gifts and much more. As if thats not enough, Yiasou delivers a taste of traditional Greek fare in three different forms: street food, restaurant-style and drive-through. Drive to Winthrop Avenue, between East Blvd. and E. Worthington Avenue, and pick up Greek sandwiches, dinner plates and pastries. Or, for a sit-down meal, the buffet-style cafeteria has an array of Greek delicacies, from pastas served with ground beef and cheese (Pastichio), to Grecian baked chicken (with lemon, garlic and oregano) and Athenian baked fish (smothered in herbs and feta). They also have a popular lamb plate, in which the meat is roasted in it’s own juice. Yum.
And in the form of “street food,” local vendors provide the works: Gyros (lamb and beef in a pita pockets), Spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese pie), Souvlaki (Greek shish-kabobs in a pita pocket), Kota Pita (char-grilled chicken breast), Greek Fries with aioli and much more. I gotta tell you, the Gyro and the Souvlaki was about as authentic as they come (without having to travel)! Moist protein, garlicky sauce and fresh tomatoes and onions, washed down with some Mythos Greek Beer. Doesn’t get any better than that.
My day at the festival ended with a trip to the pastry tent, where the array of different sweets was overwhelming. Trying the traditional Baklava was a must (they even had a Baklava Sundae), but I couldn’t stay away from the Loukoumades, which were a Greek version of donut holes with powdered sugar.
There are some great Greek restaurants in Charlotte, including Greek Isles and Ilios Noche, but unfortunately, we will all have to wait another year to fully bask in the Greek culture the way Yaisou does it here in Charlotte. But after those Gyros and Baklava (well, the entire pastry tent), it’ll be well worth the wait.
200 E. Bland Street
Charlotte, NC 28203
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Sunday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Monday-Thursday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
11508 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC 28277
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.