We are now just days away from Little Rock’s largest food festival. The 32nd Annual International Greek Food Festival starts Friday and wraps up Sunday, and will see tens of thousands of people arrive for food, crafts, entertainment and a bunch of family fun. Of course, you can expect loads of baklava, gyros, Greek salads and more. But every year, the festival comes out with a few new tasty items for your enjoyment, and this year’s debut items are really promising.
The first new dish to look for this year is the Greek fries. These feature potatoes cut “sidewinder-style” into twisted discs of crispy fries topped with feta cheese, lemon juice and fresh herbs. These are served either as an appetizer or a side item. I highly recommend you get them with a side of the festival’s tzatziki sauce; the extra bite from the yogurt sauce really gives these fries a nice kick.
The Greek fries are served out of the same stall as the lamb burger, the festival’s second new dish. The burger is a third pound of ground lamb topped with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese and bib lettuce, all served on an Arkansas Fresh bun. This is a burger with some big flavors in the seasoning and the toppings that should make customers very happy.
The final new dish is a big step for the festival. Organizers have put together a braised lamb shank plate served with rice and green beans. The shank is cooked for hours in a tomato wine sauce, resulting in meat that is fork tender and succulent. At a sneak preview last week, this was the dish that got everybody talking, and it’s not hard to see this one becoming an instant hit.
Also returning from last year’s festival are the popular loukomathes, a dish of Greek donut holes topped with honey and cinnamon that returned last year for the first time in more than a decade. And if you missed the saganaki last year, festival organizers want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. This dish of flambéed cheese and pita was so popular that it sold out on the first day, so this year, the festival has prepared four times as many servings to keep the masses happy.
One of the most popular features of the Greek Food Festival is the to-go service. The festival’s drive-thru will stay busy all three days, serving virtually all of the same items without making you leave your car. And this year, the festival has expanded its delivery service with Chef Shuttle. For the first time, the festival’s tremendously popular baklava will be available for delivery as part of the “dinner for two” order. For $30, you can have two gyros, an order of hummus dip and a four-piece tray of baklava delivered to your home or business. Chef Shuttle will also be handling deliveries of gyros, chicken kabobs, Greek salads and many other items. And you don’t even have to wait to place your order. Just log on today to order, and Chef Shuttle will deliver your food on the day of your choice this weekend.
Of course, it’s not only about the food. The festival will feature live dancing and entertainment, fun for children, and plenty of arts and crafts for sale. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been coming every year for decades, there’s something that everybody will enjoy at the International Greek Food Festival. The festival runs Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Napa Valley Drive.