ATLANTA — Country: Greece
Location: Downtown Atlanta
It was hope that brought the Poulos family from the olive vineyards of Kalamata, Greece to the corner of Hill Street SE and M.L.K. Jr.
“My parents decided there was no hope for us in Greece, and they wanted us to go to college and get an education,” said Evie Poulos. “They worked hard and wanted their kids to have a better future.”
Nick and Helen Poulos' goals for their family fueled the start of Nick’s Food to Go in 1994. These days, you’ll still find Helen Poulos along with Evie behind the counter of the corner-street restaurant, a downtown staple for quick and tasty Greek cuisine.
“My dad and my mom started this place back in ’94, and they haven’t stopped ever since,” Evie told At the Table ATL, amidst preparing a gyro with Helen's special tzatziki recipe (one she'll tell you she's made for the last 25 years).
“It’s really strong. It has lots of garlic in it, because Helen think garlic is the cure of all diseases,” Evie said.
Growing up in Kalamata sans fast food chains, the gyro was the go-to for the Poulos family.
“We came from a small town, and there were no McDonald’s or Burger King growing up,” Evie said. “Our fast food was gyros.”
“How does this dish represent Greece?”
“In Greece it’s a fast-food place. It’s usually something that you eat on the go, or something that you go and eat late at night,” she explained. “In Greece, it’s usually made out of pork. In the States, people are accustomed to the lamb.”
“How does this dish represent Atlanta?”
Nick's has seen its fair share of evolution after serving the community for more than 20 years. The family initially their restaurant with familiar American fare before branching out to their home country’s specialties.
“When we first opened our place up, we used to sell hot dogs and hamburgers,” Evie said. “Back in the 90s, there were not many Greek restaurants in Atlanta, let alone gyro restaurants … so we had to slowly work people into it,” she said. “It’s getting more popular now.”
Such popularity is proven. Nick's menu received multiple accolades, including Atlanta Magazine's 'Best Gyro in Atlanta,' in 2009, 2010 and 2014.
At the Table is a digital series produced by 11Alive's Matt Pearl and Liza Lucas. Metro Atlanta features the food of dozens of nations. We want to eat through them all! Follow us on Facebook and share your favorite food stories.