Olive Branch Mediterranean Foods is a Mediterranean deli/grocery located in East Ridge, Tennessee, serving delicious foods with great service!
It’s funny how some of my favorite places around town are places that I probably wouldn’t even know about if someone didn’t tell me. For example, if a friend had not sent me a message telling me that I had to eat at Thai Chili, it probably wouldn’t be my favorite Thai restaurant, because I never would have figured out it was there.
Likewise with Olive Branch. It’s been around in East Ridge (directly in front of East Ridge Elementary) for a while now (maybe about a year? I’m not sure.) but because of Philip’s Saturday work schedule we haven’t been able to make it out there (well, so I thought…I was thinking that they closed earlier on Saturday than they actually do). He’s not working on Saturdays for the time being, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try something new.
Olive Branch is located in a pretty unassuming location – a little strip mall that also houses a teriyaki restaurant that we haven’t tried yet. When you enter, you are greeted with a nice little selection of Mediterranean groceries and kitchen supplies, then a deli counter well-stocked with tasty looking foods.
When we entered, we were greeted by Chris, who enthusiastically explained the menu to us. You order and pay at the counter and take a seat in the dining room or at one of the high-top tables in the grocery area. You can choose from a made-to-order sandwich with your choice of Boar’s Head meat, cheese, vegetables, bread, etc., or you can order a specialty sandwich (traditional gyro, falafel, meatball, steak & cheese, eggplant parm, Italian, or vegetarian. OR you can order one of their specials, which are held in a cafeteria-style warming table. The specials on the day of our visit were lemon chicken, moussaka, lasagna, and stuffed tomatoes. You can also order a large Greek salad, and they’ll add chicken or gyro meat to it for $2 if you’d like.
I’m a sucker for a great falafel so I really didn’t have to think twice about my order (though I might have ordered a gyro if I had known that Philip wouldn’t order one). The sandwiches are served with a scoop of potato salad. You can get the falafel with tzatziki, tahini, or hummus on it. I went with the traditional tzatziki…I can’t get enough of that stuff. It’s served on a flatbread style pita with several slices of tomato and a few strips of red onion. The falafel was so good – very crispy and a little bit spicier than what I’ve had at other places. It was pretty messy so I ended up eating it with a knife and fork, and I was okay with that. The potato salad was pretty simple – just potatoes, green onion, and whatever binder they use – I couldn’t tell if it was sour cream or mayo. I would definitely recommend this if you are a falafel fan.
Philip decided to go for the moussaka (moo-sah-KAH), which is a layered dish, similar to a lasagna, made with sliced potatoes, spiced ground beef, sliced eggplant, and béchamel sauce. It was served with a small greek salad, bread, and a side (Philip got gigantes plaki, or baked giant beans). The salad was good – pretty standard ingredients (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, a pepperoncini, feta cheese, kalamata olives) with a great homemade dressing with lots of oregano. The gigantes plaki were great – giant beans, like butter beans, in a spiced tomato-based sauce. And, well, I’m going to have to learn to make moussaka because it was fantastic. I loved the spices in the meat, and the textures all went perfectly.
We also got a spanakopita (spinach pie). How can you go wrong with spinach layered in buttery, crunchy, flaky phyllo dough? It was amazing and I could have made an entire meal out of spanakopita or tiropita (cheese pie). We veered off our usual course and instead of drinking water we got a bottled Hank’s soda out of the cooler. Philip had cream soda and I had orange cream soda – both very tasty.
Of course, before we left, we had to choose something out of the bakery case to bring home. The black and white cookies were very tempting – I have a thing for black and white cookies – but how can you leave a Mediterranean restaurant without baklava? We took a box of two baklava and a box of two wedding cookies and had those with coffee after we got home. I’m telling you, I think that baklava might be the perfect dessert. I can’t think of much better than ground spiced nuts sandwiched between layers of phyllo and dripping with buttery honey. Can you??? The cookies were great too – a little crumbly and not too sweet, despite the fact that they were coated in a liberal dusting of powdered sugar.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but as soon as you step inside of Olive Branch Mediterranean Foods you realize that the “can’t judge a book by its cover” adage is definitely true here. Not only is the interior perfectly lovely (colander light fixtures!!!), so are the people, especially Chris, who really went out of his way to show us all the different options that were available to us. And the food is just fantastic, and a great value to boot ($31 pre-tip for an entree, a sandwich, a spinach pie, two baklava, two cookies, and two sodas – that’s a lot of food!). I wish it weren’t so far from me, because I think that Olive Branch may be my new favorite Mediterranean restaurant. Thanks to everyone who recommended it to me!
Olive Branch Mediterranean Foods is located at 3992 Ringgold Road, East Ridge, Tennessee, 37412. They are open 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday – Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. You can call them at (423) 805-5295. Olive Branch Mediterranean Foods does not have a website, but you can follow them on Facebook, where they post pictures of their “specials” menu every day.