@victoriamargaux
 
Taverna OPA is not for the faint of heart. I swear the restaurant's West Palm Beach location redefined the fun dining experience. While chowing down, my group danced on tables, took shots of ouzo and gorged on heaps of delicious Mediterranean food. We ordered from the Family Style section of the menu and it felt like the flow of food was never ending.
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We made our own hummus.
The first of the appetizers was DIY. Using a fork, we mashed our own hummus out of chickpeas, and spread it across slightly crisped and salted pita chips.
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Dancing waiters
I should probably mention that the entire time we've been eating there is loud, fun dance music roaring over the loud speakers.

ENTERTAINMENT BREAK!

Suddenly,  in the middle of our appetizers traditional Greek dance music starts up and the waiters climb on top tables. Linking arms, their legs start to windmill faster and faster until you think they're going to fall off the back of the no-so-wide table. Luckily, they keep their balance and go on to serve us more scrumptious food.

NOW BACK TO YOUR SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING:
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Calamari
The Calamari appetizer was wonderfully crunchy and very well seasoned. The marinara-type dipping sauce had a little unexpected zing at the end that kept my palette guessing.
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Spanikopita
No one in our group ended up eating the Spanikopita, but I tried one just so I could see what the heck it was. The middle was surprisingly tasty considering the main ingredient was spinach, but the outside croissant was mushy and bland. Everyone that didn't try it definitely wasn't missing out.
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Lisa (left) and the birthday girl, Ashley and the dip plate.
The last of the appetizers to arrive was a tray of various dips and spreads. The Melitzanosalata, or eggplant dip, was my favorite, while the birthday girl favored the Tzatziki, a garlic yogurt dip. I was really excited for the Dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves, but they were disappointing. Stuffed with just rice, I would have preferred them stuffed with meat or seasoned a lot more.
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Lamb Chops, Chicken Breast Skewers, Beef Shish Kebob Skewers, Oak Grilled Pork Loin
After we had already stuffed ourselves with appetizers, the main entree arrived. An overflowing plate of Lamb Chops, Chicken Breast Skewers, Beef Shish Kebob Skewers, Oak Grilled Pork Loin nearly collapsed the table. Every type of meat was tender and easily broke apart with a fork. Each time I got a mouthful, the green vegetables and rice made for a nice pairing with the robust meats.
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Baklava, Galaktoboureko
By the time dessert arrive none of us even wanted to think about eating more food. I hear they have some really great Baklava, but I was far too full to enjoy any.
 
 
In the past week and a half three of my best friends celebrated their 21st birthdays. Not only do I have ZERO time lately, but I've been stuffing my face non-stop.

To start the celebration off right, about twenty of us decided to get together for some grub and finally legal drinks. Gainesville doesn't have many places that can comfortably accomodate that many people -- except BJ's Brewhouse, a place I was originally skeptical about.

I, however, eat my words.

My favorite part of the menu? The snacks and small bites section. Order gourmet mac & cheese or hawaiian shrimp skewers for just a few bucks.
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Mini-Bruschetta
To start, my friend Kari suggested we split the Mini-Bruschetta. The grilled Focaccia bread was fresh and delightfully soft, while the dish was artfully topped with melted provolone, Roma and sun-dried tomatoes, onions, basil and roasted red peppers. If that wasn't enough, the pesto vinaigrette literally left me ooing and aahing. Dare I say I wanted this small bite to actually be larger? I don't think we left a single morsel on the plate.  
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The lovely Kari Bannon and I
BJ's menu is so extensive it took me a while to narrow down my selection. Giant stuffed potatoes, pasta, deep dish pizzas and half-pound angus burgers are just a small portion of what's offered on the menu.

Think it took me forever to pick my entree? Choosing a drink took even longer. BJ's is a brewhouse for goodness' sake. The restaurant's beer list is a mile long and the specialty drinks rival some of the best bars in town. In the end, I predictably chose a glass or Riesling. 
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Parmesan Encrusted Chicken
I know the photo of the Parmesan Encrusted Chicken looks like a hot mess, but it was downright delectable. Coated in a mix of Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs, the chicken was seared a golden brown and served with white cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. A lemon Chardonnay butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and even more Parmesan cheese brought the dish together in a crescendo of flavors. Each bite brought Southern comfort and memories of my grandmother.

I saved more than half of the dish to-go, but inevitably gave in and ended up eating the rest before we even got back home. Oh well, the food baby was definitely worth it.
 

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