This weekend, I made the trek off campus out to Samos Restaurant in Greektown. Located in southeast Baltimore, it is conveniently located right next to the Bayview Medical Campus (if you ever happen to be there).
The restaurant is about 30 minutes away from campus by car. It is probably a bit more difficult to get to by public transportation, but if you have the opportunity to go (or have a friend with a car), I absolutely recommend making the trip. I went with my roommate, Rose, who was looking to see if Greektown would work as a neighborhood she could study for an anthropology class.
Greektown has been a hub for Greek-American immigrants since the 1930s. Today about 600 families live there. It is also the home of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Baltimore. Samos is just one of many Greek-themed restaurants and coffee shops in the area.
Samos was founded in 1977 by Nicholas Georgalas, who is still the owner and head chef today. It is named after an island in the eastern Aegean Sea. On the menu, you can find classic Greek dishes such as souvlaki, moussaka, dolmathes and gyro. You also have the option of bringing your own alcoholic beverages, although there is a $2.50 fee for each adult that is drinking.
The restaurant only accepts cash and is a bit on the pricey side. However, I think the fact that it manages to get an impressive amount of business despite this is a testament to how good the food is. Most meals run around the $10 to $20 range.
The atmosphere is nice, but it was quite crowded when we arrived. We had to put our names down on a list of people waiting to be seated. About 20 minutes passed before it was our turn, but we were able to pass the time by walking around the neighborhood.
As it was night, most of the shops were closed, with the exception of a few convenience stores that were open. We discovered that Greektown itself is a fairly residential neighborhood. I’d recommend it more for a dinner out rather than a full day trip.
Once it was finally our turn to be seated, the service was relatively quick. The restaurant looks much fancier on the inside than you might expect from just a casual glance on the street. There are paintings on most of the walls, giving the restaurant a homey ambiance. Most of the furniture is wooden and it kind of has an old-time vibe.
I was feeling sick at the time, so I just ordered soup. My roommate ordered gyro, which she said was very good. I enjoyed my soup very much, although it is hard to go wrong with soup.
What really stood out were the honeyballs that Rose ordered for desert. They were balls of fried dough covered in powdered sugar and honey. They were delicious.
In recent years, the restaurant has grown significantly. In 2000, the owners expanded the restaurant by making the dining room much larger. There is also a more casual offshoot of the restaurant called Samos Greek Island Grill, which has locations in Canton and Locust Point.
Overall, the outing was a very pleasant experience. I would recommend Samos to anyone looking for a nice night out in a different part of Baltimore.