Now in its 46th year, the Original Greek Festival — so named to distinguish it from imitators that have cropped up over the years — is expecting crowds of 40,000 over the weekend-long event, which will be held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral complex at 3511 Yoakum.
I present to you this: An insiders guide to the Greek Festival, which opens on Thursday.
Where to park
Parking throughout the surrounding neighborhood streets is likely to be slim pickings. Thankfully, the organizers have put together helpful reference maps, reserved handicapped-only parking at Yoakum and Marshall and secured a surface lot at Lamar High School at 3325 Westheimer, where attendees will be met with a shuttle every 15 minutes for a ride directly to the festival entrance.
When to go
Dinner hours on Thursday (from 5 to 10 p.m.) is the best bet for beating the weekend crowd, and lunch service on Friday (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) offers free admission and skimpy crowds.
If throngs are your thing, gates re-open on Friday for dinner at 5 p.m., remaining open until 10 p.m. Continuous service will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and on Sunday noon to 6 p.m. (or until supplies last).
Celebrity chef and author Diane Kochilas will be in Houston to promote The Country Cooking of Greece, which will be released this month. Stop by the festival gift shop on Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. to snag a signed copy.
What to eat
The better question here would be, what not to eat. All of the food is prepared by parishioners of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in strict adherence to traditional recipes, and wine, beer, Greek coffee, soft drinks and bottled water will be available for accompaniment.
If you need a full variety, go with the dinner plate ($12), which includes a generous serving of pastitsio (baked macaroni with beef filling and Romano cheese topped with bechamel sauce), tiropita, spanakopita, keftedes (Greek meatballs with fresh mint) and a traditional Greek salad.
Keep in mind that food vendors will accept major credit cards and there will be ATM options on-site.