The Odd Charm of Melios Char Bar
The overview of a good diner-style plate: fast, fried and beige
There are a few things to absorb when you enter Melios Char Bar on Greenville. There's the board that announces the chicken-fried steak special, hand-drawn and bordered with cartoon vines. There's the classic, bold '80s GYROS sign in Santorini blue. Bulging firehouse brick is stacked behind the short order cook station, and the menu above is faded like a Mad Men prop. Facing the register, with one of the friendly Meliosi writing tickets, there's a random photo of a swim team, presumably from a couple of decades ago. Then, there's the convention bureau-like photos of cities in Greece that run around the walls of the restaurant.
Nothing on the menu acknowledges food trends. This is a house that lives outside the scrutiny of the modern foodie. Pork chop sandwiches are on the menu. There's a Western omelet. Looking over the simple list of food, and H.G. Wells era salad bar, you'll forget the cult significance of bacon. Bacon is just bacon at Melios.
It's like the Melios Bros, Greek immigrants who opened the place in the '70s, cast a No-Foodie spell over the entire building. I imagine them outside the building, in a fryer-oil spattered apron, shouting "You shall not Instagram!" All who enter are immediately stripped of all modern food knowledge, including who Ron Swanson is (he'd probably love this place).
I went for a cheeseburger and onion rings, and the Lady Friend got a burger, fries and a Dr Pepper. We sat under the framed poster of Athens, with Mykonos in view. Why not love this? Outside, Greenville was humming with LED headlights and people streaming to the Truck Yard and Trader Joe's. The fryer oil bubbled as loud as hot springs.
The burgers came swiftly, wrapped in a twist of white paper. My onion ring pile looked crispy enough to shatter with a karate chop, which is always good. The burger's loaded with lettuce, pickles, a huge tomato slice and shredded cheese. None of it tastes like it was shipped in crates from a farm. It's just food, and it tastes like it should. The mayo and mustard meeting the pickle slices and tomato made the burger disappear in a few ticks of the clock. Worth noting: The whole meal was under 20 bucks.
Half-way through the burger, which holds onto that addictive, home-cooked smoky char flavor for as long as you're eating it, one of the Melios Brothers came by to ask if we enjoyed it. He smiled brightly and said "thank you, thank you" as we told him it was great. The Char Bar is a welcome friend in a quadrant sprouting quickly with new, vibrant restaurants, including Remedy's throwback food, just steps away.
In the time lapse of Greenville restaurants opening and closing, I hope Char Bar never leaves. It's got the odd, unpredictable charm that a truly great food destination needs.
Melios Brothers' Char Bar 2026 Greenville Ave. 214-826-8800
Just what the Dr Pepper ordered
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