The restaurant's decor is just slightly less generic than its strip mall surroundings. At heart, it's a deli. The walls are painted a friendly yellow and hung with Picasso prints. A big, funky wooden takeout counter fronts the dining room, with a glass food case to one side and a handful of tables topped with fake flowers. There are a few outdoor tables, but the view -- acres of asphalt, row upon row of cars -- leaves a lot to be desired. Given the choice, I sit inside.
As the name might suggest, Olive Bistro specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. Hummus, served with fresh pita bread and a drizzle of olive oil, may be the best in the city. Velvety-smooth with just a suggestion of garlic, the stuff is addictive. A dish of Tuscan white beans is by turns creamy and tangy in its heady marinade of lemon, garlic, olive oil and spices. Sun-dried tomatoes give the dish a hint of sweetness.
I am especially fond of Olive Bistro's pita pockets and wraps. The chicken gyro folds chunks of rosemary-grilled chicken inside warm flatbread with lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives and cool tzatziki. The server gave good advice when she suggested I leave the sandwich in its paper wrapping to prevent spillage. The thing's a mess, but entirely worth it. Also great (and equally messy) are the crunchy falafel balls tucked inside a pita pocket with lettuce, tomato and tahini.
The pre-made items in the case are always worth a try. Vegetarian lasagna, stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and served with a lemony marinara, was a fresh take on a dish that's usually way too heavy for my taste.
Whether you've saved room or not, you simply cannot leave Olive Bistro without a piece of their ooey-gooey baklava. I always order a piece to go, but I've yet to actually get home with it. By the time I pull into my driveway all that's left is an empty to-go container and a sticky steering wheel. Evidence of a much-enjoyed meal.
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