Zina Serves Fresh Greek Street Fare with Quality Ingredients


Jacob Burkons

“The gyro was above average, and the homemade pita really gave it a nice texture, but the tzatziki sauce was a game-changer.”

As I passed Cedar Center a few months ago I was looking for my favorite soul food spot Ella Mae’s when I noticed it had been replaced with a new restaurant: Zina Greek Street Food. 

Although I was sad to see Ella Mae’s go (I later learned it relocated to Richmond Road, and I was happy to find that their meatloaf and yams are just as delicious as ever), I was very intrigued by this new Greek restaurant and decided to give it a try, as I’ve always been a fan of gyros. 

The fluorescent blue sign bearing the name of the restaurant in a unique font really drew my attention along with smaller fluorescent white letters at the bottom: ‘Greek Street Food.’ 

The first thing that struck me when I walked in was the smell of freshly-made food with spices and meat. After being greeted by an employee, I looked to my right and saw a beautiful painting depicting the white-walled city of Santorini, Greece. 

Another thing that really drew my attention was the Greek-themed pillows along the big booth on the right side of the restaurant. I knew then that this place was going to be special because I have never seen something so unique while eating in Cleveland.

I went around six o’clock on a Tuesday evening, and the restaurant was decently busy; however, my mom and I were the only ones dining in; most people opted for take out. 

We ordered two street gyros with lamb, hummus and pita chips, homemade baklava, Spartan hot honey sauce and two Greek tzatziki sauces. 

The order totaled to $45.23, not necessarily cheap, but not pocket-breaking either, considering the quality of the food. 

The first thing that struck me when I walked in was the smell of freshly-made food with spices and meat.

The first thing that struck me when I walked in was the smell of freshly-made food with spices and meat.

I don’t expect much from pita chips. I’ve been trained to think of them as crusty, lightly-salted chips that are tasteless without hummus; however, these were different.  

I was wowed by how fresh they were, almost like french fries, but more seasoned and in the shape of  chips. They tasted great by themselves, with rich flavor, and they weren’t too salty. 

But when dipped in the hummus, the experience  got even better. The hummus isn’t the  hummus you’re used to either. It is colored by a layer of  herbs and spices, and it compliments the pita chips so well I had to get another order. Adding the complimentary herb oil to the pita only made things better as it really complemented the fresh pita chips. 

Now I moved onto the street gyro with added lamb. The lamb itself was a tad dry, but when added to the whole gyro it still gave a wonderful taste. The sandwich is made from homemade pita, fresh cut fries, tomato and onion and a choice of sauce. The gyro was above average, and the homemade pita really gave it a nice texture, but the tzatziki sauce was a game changer. The sauce really compliments the gyro, helping bring out true flavor. 

The most interesting thing about my meal was the Spartan hot honey sauce. I expected this condiment to be either delicious and memorable or just too spicy and artificial tasting. I guess luck was with me that day because right away after dipping a pita chip in the sauce, I tasted the natural honey, reminding me of those honey sticks I used to have on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). 

The sweetness was followed by a nice flavorful kick that really caught my attention. It was actually decently spicy, just enough for me to want another bite but not so much to make me put it down and pick up the milk. 

Now the sweet stuff: right after opening the baklava, a strong cinnamon wave hit my nose, and I could really feel the flavor before even biting into it; however, after I took a bite,  I noticed it was kind of cold with a bit too much honey, making it a tad mushy; this was different from when I had gotten the baklava a few weeks earlier, when it was less cold and more crispy. 

This didn’t diminish the taste though; the strong sweetness from the honey accompanied by the saltiness of the nuts inside with that cinnamon taste combined into the recognizable flavor of a good baklava. The only thing bringing it down was that this time it didn’t have the crispness when you bite into it, which is a difference maker from good and great. 

I will definitely visit Zina every month or so. I enjoyed the food and vast range of flavors. 

It’s not what I would call ‘cheap eats,’ but it’s well-worth the cost because you are getting unique food with quality ingredients. I wouldn’t call it fast food, either. If you’re planning to go, be ready to sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal in a casual environment with minimal wait.

The menu offers a decent number of options. From salads to Gyros, it offers the essentials of Greek street food.

I highly recommend that you go and give it a try. I know everybody’s tastes buds are different, but it doesn’t hurt to try, and I bet you will find something you like.


13898 Cedar Road in University Heights


Overall 8.1/10

Gyro 8.3/10

Hummus and Pita Chips 9.6/10

Hospitality 8.5/10

Spartan Hot Honey 7/10

Greek Tzatziki sauce 7.1/10

Baklava 7.1/10