Yianni's - For Greek, Head to Carmichael

There's never been a lot of quality Greek food in Sacramento. We took a hit when the Greek Village Inn closed a couple of years ago. Opa Opa is fine, but it's fast casual style and sometimes you want to be served at a sit down setting. That's why I was thrilled to be introduced to Yianni's in Carmichael.

Yianni's is located on Fair Oaks Blvd, just north of Marconi. It's one of those restaurants you drive by for years and notice, but don't go if you haven't been referred there. In fact, one of my friends even said that for a long time he would drive by and not see any cars, so he thought it wasn't any good. Later he learned that's because most of the cars park behind the building and the main entrance is on the side, not the front of the building.

Inside is a cozy restaurant and bar. The bar looks like a neighborhood, Cheers bar. My friends said they had a separate room to themselves when they came as a large family for Father's Day. This time we were next to the bar as the Giants game played above our heads.

The menu is quite extensive. It focuses on Greek, but there are other non-Greek items as well, such as Chicken Florentine and Shrimp Scampi. They even have one of the best French Onion Soups in the region.

We started with their Halloumi cheese and a four dip platter for our appetizers. Halloumi is known as squeaky cheese because, like cheese curds, it can kind of squeak across your teeth as you bite into it. It has a high melting point, so it is often grilled. I've had halloumi before and never been a big fan, but this was the bet I've ever had - I'd order it again. It was covered in seasoned olive oil and served with some Greek salad veggies of onions and peppers. 

The dip platter included a fire feta, hummus, skordalia, and tzatziki. Skordalia was new for me. It was a very garlicy spread made with a potato base. Served with the dips were sliced cucumbers and fresh, hot, pita! The pita was soft and superb!

My BFF and her son ordered the highly recommended French Onion Soup. Boy was it good! The broth was rich and the cheese was generous. 

At the top you see my order of the Mixed Grill plate. I figured I was here to see how well they do Greek, so might as well get the combo plate. I got a skewer of chicken souvlaki, two dolmades, two lamb chops, spanakopita, and pastitso. The lamb chops were nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked. The dolmades were good, as was the spanakopita. Chicken is always the one I never have expectations of and the skewer was overcooked and dry. I like pastitso, but I always find it to be a bit on the dull side. I wish I could find one that would really excite me. In the end, though, I enjoyed the meal and the fact that I had enough for lunch the next day. 

My BFF chose the Chicken Florentine. The large chicken breast with generously stuffed with spinach and cheese and then covered with a rich sauce.

Her son ordered a steak, which may seem boring, but we were definitely impressed by the size of it!

Two had the Shrimp Scampi and what was most impressive was the jumbo shrimp in the dish. I can't even remember the last time I saw such large shrimp on a restaurant entree. 

We all split the desserts. We had to order the baklava, of course. Instead of square slice from a pan, we got this large rolled version. Plenty of ground walnuts filled it and the whole thing was dense with honey. The other dessert was the special of a half peach baked in a wrapped phyllo with walnuts and honey and served with ice cream.

Service here was very attentive in a friendly manner. We were often asked if we needed drink refills and they definitely exuded the "neighborhood" restaurant vibe.

Yianni's has become a new favorite of my BFF's family and I'll certainly be enthusiastic if I get to go with them again.