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    Posted January 6, 2013 by
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    100 places to eat like a local

    The Parthenon - World Class Dining with a Family Restaurant Feel

    The Parthenon Greek Taverna and Grill is a refreshing change of pace from the run of the mill options that can be found in Lincoln, NE. A family owned and operated restaurant, it is a one of a kind establishment that can only be found in Lincoln.

    So what makes the Parthenon special? First of all- the owners. George and Mike Kazas are sons of first generation immigrants from Greece who grew up in the restaurant business. They love food and they love people. Combine this with a passion for excellence and customer service and you have an out of this world dining experience that won't blow your budget.

    Don't let the name fool you-although they do have by far the best authentic Greek food in town (quite possibly in Nebraska) they can make any cuisine that your heart desires. Since they are a Greek restaurant at their core, the a vast portion of menu selections are prepared in the traditional Greek manner or have a Greek twist to them. Once people try them, they are hooked. Saganki (flaming cheese), braised lamb shanks and baklava cheesecake make for the perfect meal.

    They also boast one of the most extensive vegetarian menus in Lincoln, as well as several vegan entrees. I know of only a couple other restaurants in Lincoln that have a vegan section on their menu.

    I could talk for hours about the dessert selection at the Parthenon. At any given time, there are in excess of 30 different pastries and cakes available and on display ready for you to enjoy. And, on top of that, the Parthenon makes their own ice cream in house, so there are a variety of flavors to sample every day.

    Patrons are encouraged to try new things with a "money back guarantee" of sorts. If you try something new and don't like it, they will fix it or get you something you do like. And don't think that they won't notice if you aren't eating your food. George and Mike are constantly walking around the restaurant chatting it up with the customers. There are many people that they know by first name who they consider friends, and those relationships have been formed solely through interactions at the restaurant.

    Although Greek food is the speciality, George and Mike are not limited to that genre. Every month for the past 8 years or so, they have been holding a wine dinner once a month. This themed six course meal features food that is paired with specific wines so that they complement one another. The themes have ranged from cheese to chocolate, from wild game to vegan. And the price for six full courses and almost a full bottle of wine per person? A mere $50. It's a deal you won't find anywhere else in Nebraska.

    Speaking of wine, the Parthenon has an extensive wine list. They have wines available by the bottle and the glass, and several Greek wines that can only be found at the restaurant. If wine isn't your thing, the Parthenon has a fully stocked bar which includes imported Greek beers.

    Another thing that sets the Parthenon apart is the live entertainment. Several times a month they feature local talent. Some nights it is a laid back jazz duo; other nights the restaurant is rocking with a Latin fusion band. Or-you might be treated to belly dancers. If you are really lucky, George and Mike's nephews will be there and will be showing off their traditional Greek dancing skills. What makes it even more fun is that the customers can get involved by breaking plates. George and Mike's father, Papa John is often there at the restaurant encouraging people to get out of their sets and break some plates. The Parthenon is a one of a kind experience indeed.

    I almost forgot to mention that even the four legged members of the family can enjoy dinner at the Parthenon. Allowing pets at a restaurant is not very common in Nebraska, and the Parthenon is the only restaurant that I know of in Lincoln that actually encourages people to bring their pets to dinner with them. Dog Tuesdays started about 5 years ago and has been going strong ever since. When the patio is open, Fido is welcome (usually April - October). And in keeping with the theme of quality, Fido is not going to be eating a store bought biscuit while the rest of the family enjoys flavorful cuisine. Every Tuesday that weather is permitting doggies will have a freshly prepared doggie buffet to choose from. All the dog treats are homemade with human grade ingredients and no fillers.

    Another thing that sets the Parthenon apart is the way that George and Mike treat their staff. Turnover is incredibly low at the Parthenon, and many of the people who no longer work at the restaurant have left only becuase they have graduated college and moved or found a "day job". At the five year anniversary, there were around 15 staff members who had been there from day one. For an establishment that had a staff of about 35 employees, that is an unheard or retention rate for the restaurant business. At the 10 year anniversary I believe there were at least half a dozen employees who have been there since the restaurant opened. It's just another way that you can tell that George and Mike are in the business because they love people and respect them.

    Am I biased? You bet. :) I met George and Mike 10 years ago when I started serving tables there and now consider them to be family. I still eat there several times a week and never get tired of the food and the fellowship. My kids love it and ask to go to the Parthenon all the time. So do yourself a favor- the next time you are in Lincoln, NE, stop by the Parthenon and try them out. You won't regret it and I guarantee you will be looking for an excuse to come back to have another out of this world experience.
    This iReport is part of an assignment that we created with Travel + Leisure:  100 places to eat like a local
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