Who's Ya Pappa?

Papa Cristo’s
2771 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 737-2970

Did you grow up in a gregarious household where everything that came out of the kitchen was delicious and everyone was welcome? Well, if you didn’t, you’re lucky to have Papa Cristo’s C&K Importing as a second home – a relaxed atmosphere with food that is not simply to be missed. It was opened in 1948 by Sam Chrys to bring authentic Greek products to Los Angeles, and his son Chrys Chrys “Papa Cristo” has kept up the tradition of low prices for high quality with friendly service. A refreshing departure from the norm of paying sky-high prices for imported foods in specialty stores (Do you hear me L’ Occitane?).

Nutritionists have been increasingly recommending a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, fish, vegetables – but while this is news to the average American diet of processed substances that pass as food and saturated fat – the Greeks and their neighbors have known the health benefits of their diet for … well, since the years that ended with B.C. If you want to prepare your meal yourself and forego the restaurant, you aren’t limited to the imported goods that line the shelves – NO! You can step up to the deli counter and buy freshly homemade feta, varieties of bulk olives, skewers of kebabs, dips, spreads, pastries… I could go on and on!

Upon our first meeting, Papa met me with a big hug and happily showed me the framed copy of his father’s manifest from his arrival on Ellis Island. Samos had signed his signature with such a flourish I couldn’t make out the original last name (which rolled off Papa Cristo’s tongue with ease), and apparently the attendant couldn’t either because his name was changed and upon arrival, he was assigned the name Sam Chrys. He was so proud of his new American name, he used it from that day and had it legally changed. Thus he proudly named his son, the future “Papa Cristo” the name Americanized Chrys Chrys.

Chrys is passionate about feeding his friends, and he considers you his friend even before he’s met you, all of his ingredients are bursting with freshness and flavor. Your body will thank you, but you’ll notice that just upon smelling the aromas and tasting the offerings, that you feel better as if your soul is reacting to Papa Cristo’s food in favor of it as opposed to cardboard fast food.

Some local LA food reviewers have remarked that they frequent Papa Cristo’s because they have family member who live as far away as Palm Springs who come to town to eat there. I can just picture the hundreds of eateries they pass up heading straight for the corner of Pico and Normandy.

The décor is a world away from the chi-chi LA eateries, which dictate that you dress up for dinner and can be downright intimidating. Here you’ll find communal tables draped with red-checkered table coverings, that make you want to put your elbows on the table. The walls are covered with faded travel posters of the Greek isles, and the music is lively. Just the thing at the end of a long day when you just want to chill with some good food!

Ah! The food! Appetizers and salads are the size of meals and entrees are the size of feasts! Diners order at the counter and servers bring your food to your table. Be sure to order any extra sides as they charge for them – and after you taste their sauces, you’ll definitely want extra!

Which brings me to a recent meal with friends: we shared a salad, saganaki, a zesty shrimp and veggie entrée that they whipped up for the vegetarian in our group and the ultra popular – gyros pizza! I’ve grown up loving those sandwiches, but this was gyros to the power of… GYROS! Drizzled with extra sauce, I was in heaven nibbling on the perfectly seasoned toppings and lightly crispy crust.

I couldn’t get that meal out of my mind for days, sadly the leftovers didn’t last that long in my because I’d eaten them at midnight – just hours after leaving Papa Cristo’s.

So I came back this week for Papa Cristo’s Big Fat Greek Family Style Dinner. It is every Thursday night at 7:00 PM and features wine tasting, appetizers, 2 entrees, salad, green beans, roasted potatoes, fresh-baked bread, baklava dessert, and belly dancing entertainment for just $24 with tax and tip plus free parking!

Be sure to call for a reservation as it filled up completely, however, people shifted around the communal tables happily to accommodate newcomers as best they could. Nothing bonds strangers like passing heaps of hot food around a big table does it? At the end of the meal servers came by to give us To Go containers so that none of the delicious food was wasted.

Yay! Another midnight fridge raid courtesy of Papa Cristo’s!

See you there!



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