I’ve really just been waiting for an excuse to review Taziki’s Mediterranean Café. Located at Legacy Village in the former Zoe’s (which is now at Pinebrook Shopping Center on Airport Boulevard), I wondered if this place would be more of the same. Certainly there are similarities between the two. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’d prefer a little variety rather than just a turnkey building and a different brand of rice.

I finally got my excuse when the private schools went back in session. Rob’s kids were both dreading and looking forward to their new year moving up the ranks, but it was Beth’s daughter, Vivi, who was really ready for big-girl school. What to do? Celebrate. How do we celebrate? With food, of course!

The whole gang managed to coordinate a time and spot at Taziki’s. In good company, Taziki’s sits footsteps away from flavors galore, with Dumbwaiter on the Hill, Mirko Pasta, Tropical Smoothie, Atlanta Bread Co. and Williams-Sonoma nearby. We were happy to find some familiar items and a few more fresh ideas.

For starters, we needed to try the Spicy Pimento Cheese ($4.99). The former tenants had a great take on pimento cheese. For me, this one is even better, with a hint of Tabasco and really sharp cheddar. You have a choice of soft or baked pita chips. We had to have the baked for the sturdiness. Crispy and brittle, the crunchy pita made this happy dish even better. It may have been a little spicy for Beth, but it was just right for most everyone else.

(Photo | Daniel Anderson / Lagniappe) With daily lunch specials, take-home family dinners and more than 100 menu items made fresh daily, Taziki’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is highly recommended.

With six of us in tow we needed to double up on appetizers. Taziki Dip ($4.99) was a lot like taziki sauce with a lemony mix of cucumber and dill in a yogurt base. Soft pita was the way to go for this one for the exact opposite reasons the crunchy pita was right for the cheese. The soft was a little better at soaking up the runny dip.

Ursula was up first with Grilled Chicken Roll-Ups ($7.99). Think of these as Mediterranean taquitos with tomato (she held the tomato) and feta with chicken in a rolled-up flour tortilla, browned on a griddle and served with a side of chips and fresh salsa. I was offered a bite. Not bad at all. Your kids will love this.

Ulysses was rambling on and on about whether or not he’d enjoy a Grilled Lamb Gyro ($9.99). He must have enjoyed it because I didn’t get a single bite. This is your standard. It’s the yardstick for this kind of food. Served with chips and choice of additional side, he, like his sister, chose roasted new potatoes. Good choice.

Beth had been here before and had already made up her mind. She didn’t stutter when she ordered the Grilled Salmon Feast ($12.99). Served with a fantastic Greek salad, Beth also chose the new potatoes as her side. At least my bite of the salmon was cooked perfectly, and neither she nor I had any complaints.

I ordered similarly to Beth with the Grilled Shrimp Feast ($11.99), getting the same salad but I opted for the basmati rice over the potatoes. I was the only brave soul, and though I love the potatoes I felt the rice went better with the salmon and shrimp. Either was fine, though. The other “feast” options were chicken, beef, lamb, tilapia or herb-roasted pork loin, the latter of which ensuring I’ll be coming back.

Rob doesn’t realize this but I believe he had the winning dish of the evening. His Beef Tender Sandwich ($8.99) was the surprise of the trip on a Kaiser bun with grilled onions, horseradish and melted Swiss cheese. My small bite was enough to let me know the sandwich is a strong competitor. Furthermore, he somehow was granted a side of grilled vegetables, an option I don’t remember being offered.

Once it was all said and done, we can say we had a very decent back-to-school meal without breaking the bank. Princess Vivi only grazed a little here and there, without much interest in dining. Must have been an exciting day for a 4-year-old to lose her appetite.

Here’s why you’ll visit Taziki’s. There are daily lunch specials usually in the form of a sandwich, pasta or fish taco, all in the under $9 category. There are also take-home dinners for four people to be picked up after 2 p.m., but you must call to order two hours in advance.

These guys boast more than 100 menu items made fresh daily. I didn’t bother counting but I’m inclined to blindly believe it. I’m very interested in trying the homemade Greek Lemon Chicken Soup when the weather turns.

Another great thing about Taziki’s is that they do serve wine and beer. A bottle of wine there is very affordable, though I wouldn’t plan on stopping in to get ripped during happy hour. It’s not that atmosphere at all. But the markup on the wine is very small.

When you compare Taziki’s to Zoë’s Kitchen (and it’s very hard not to do so), on the surface you will say they are very similar. Both serve stellar pimento cheese, similar proteins, the rice, etc., but really they are much more different than most will acknowledge, and can cleverly coexist only a couple of miles apart. I say give it a try. Both are very good, but today I am having Taziki’s.

Mediterranean Café
9 Du Rhu Drive, Suite 300
Mobile 36608