At Stratos Global Greek Taverna, You Gotta Dance. Only Not During Lunch.

Know what beats going on a lunch date to a restaurant that has a dance floor? Two lunch dates. In all honesty, if you went at night during dancing hours, you might have more fun, well, dancing. Lunch will only tempt you.

Last week I met two of my former co-workers, Date #1 and Date #2, at the Stratos Global Greek Taverna on Northwest Highway. For those who don't know, Stratos transforms into a lively dance spot six nights a week. That nightlife includes belly dancers Monday through Saturday. The restaurant also provides Greek dance lessons Thursday through Saturday nights, along with DJs and more belly dancers. But during lunch hours, tables occupy the dance floor. The only sign of dancing is the video loop of the restaurant's nightlife on the TV screen, along with the signs posted along the dance floor's walls warning "Dance At Your Own Risk."

Date #1, Date #2 and I sat at an elevated booth, set back from the dance floor, which would be prime voyeuristic real estate if it had been night time. Date #1 immediately felt overwhelmed by Stratos' double-sided menu and Greek dishes he couldn't pronounce. He threatened to order a ham and cheese sandwich, which I assured him was not happening. So I helped him out with the knowledge I gained the summer I hosted at Mykonos Café in Albuquerque. I'm convinced the restaurant owner hired me because I looked Greek, even though I'm not, and because I could properly pronounce words like Galaktabouriko and Moussaka.

But back at Stratos, while my dates studied the menu we ordered the hummus and pita bread appetizer. I liked the flavor and appreciated the array of carrots, celery and olives accompanying it, so we didn't gorge ourselves with pita before our lunches arrived. Date #1, however, complained the hummus tasted "pasty." Date #2 enjoyed the hummus too, which goes to show Date #1 has the problem, not us.

I ordered the Avgolemono Soup (lemon, egg and rice soup) and Greek Salad for $8.95 with a side of Gyro meat for an extra $3.00. Date #1 ended up ordering the Chicken Gyro Sandwich with fries for $7.95, stating that if he didn't like the Gyro at least he could eat fries. Date #2 went all out and chose the Chicken Gyro Plate, which is a toasted pita served open-faced and topped with double chicken gyro meat, tomatoes, red onions, homemade Tzatziki sauce, Feta cheese and Kalamata olives for $8.95. Our waitress referred to this choice as the "meat lovers" plate, which seemed to make Date #2 uneasy since he wasn't that hungry. Sure enough, when Date #2's plate arrived he quickly pushed half of his chicken onto a side plate.

For the nice price of lunch, you get enough food to take home for a second meal. I took home almost all of my Gyro meat and extra pita -- it was so delicious I couldn't bear to let the restaurant throw it out. Surprisingly, Date #1 finished his entire Gyro sandwich; Date #2 chose to leave his chicken on the table. I would have ordered dessert, but both dates felt stuffed. Date #2 in particular grumbled that he was ready to burst. Given that Date #1 and I didn't plan on condoning Date #2's post-Thanksgiving-esque-pants-unbuttoning-session at our Global Greek Taverna booth, all three of us put on our coats to leave (save that monkey business for your own dinner table and your wife's eyes only, Date #2).

Before we left Stratos, we surveyed the dance floor up close and decided it must be a lot sexier during dance hours, and probably a lot of fun. The restaurant keeps the lights dim during lunch, which made us all squint as we exited. We laughed at how the restaurant maintains the dance club vibe even in the light of day and how we all had a healthy dose of garlic breath.

I'd like to come back to Stratos on a real date for dinner to experience the nightlife. And if it's a good one I'll let the garlic breath my date will surely get from the great Greek food slide.

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Monica Berry