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It’s all Greek: Mykonos Cafe & Taverna offers a range of standards for takeout

The Greek platter at Mykonos consists of pastitsio, moussaka and roasted vegetables. The spanakopita was missing in action. (Richard S. Dargan/For The Journal)

Takeout has taken root in Albuquerque, judging by the scene Saturday night at Mykonos, the Greek restaurant at Mountain Run Shopping Center, at Eubank and Juan Tabo.

Cars filled spaces on both sides of the restaurant. A woman running orders out had the slumped posture of a long-distance runner starting to hit the proverbial wall. “It’s been nonstop,” she told me.

That’s a good sign for one of the veterans of the city’s Greek dining scene. Mykonos, named for a Greek island in the Aegean Sea famous for its whitewashed buildings, opened in 1997. It closed a few years ago and then was reborn under the management of restaurateurs Nick Kapnison and Jimmy Daskalos, who run Nick and Jimmy’s and El Patron.

The usual suspects, such as gyros, spanakopita and moussaka, populate a takeout/delivery menu that has considerable overlap with the one at Nick and Jimmy’s. You’ll find the same cedar plank salmon ($24) and parmesan-encrusted sole ($22). Though just about everything else is less than $20, the prices are still a few dollars higher than at other Greek places in town, such as Gyros Mediterranean, Olympia Café and nearby Zorba’s.

A terrific beef pastitsio – baked ziti layered over ground beef-based Bolognese sauce – highlights the Greek platter ($21). The meaty sauce, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and oregano, is cooked low and slow, tenderizing the ground beef until it has the same al dente texture as the pasta. The béchamel sauce on top adds to the velvety smoothness of the dish. Vegetable moussaka, the second component of the platter, presents as a stack of thinly sliced eggplant, potatoes and squash laced with mozzarella and topped with béchamel – nicely done, if less remarkable than the pastitsio. Conspicuous in its absence was the promised spanakopita, the Greek spinach pie made with puff pastry and feta cheese. Maybe that’s why I was charged only $16 rather than the $21 listed on the menu. I can only speculate: No explanation was offered.

Mykonos’ half-order of chicken souvlaki includes two skewers served with yogurt-based tzatziki sauce. (Richard S. Dargan/For The Journal)

A half-order of chicken souvlaki ($15) includes two skewers laced with pieces of white chicken meat, onions and red peppers. Even on lowly Styrofoam, the assembly is visually appealing, the skewers set over a brightly colored pile of zucchini, cherry tomatoes and spinach. The marinade imparts a lemony sharpness to the chicken that is balanced well by the refreshing jolt of the tzatziki sauce.

The Greeks are credited with bringing rice to Europe by way of the armies of Alexander the Great returning from the east. Since then, it’s been an important part of their cuisine, showing up in grape leaf-wrapped dolmas and as the traditional stuffing in their Christmas turkeys. Rice is well represented at Mykonos, most notably in the restaurant’s excellent lemon rice soup, which, sadly, wasn’t on the takeout menu. I settled instead for the creamy Parmesan and pea risotto with mushrooms ($16). The texture of the rice, heaped on the Styrofoam in a rather slovenly fashion, was more pasty than creamy, and there was no sign of any mushrooms. A pile of arugula, undressed, accompanied the rice. The whole thing was a letdown.

For dessert, you can get baklava for $5.50.

My experience with Mykonos encompassed the good, the bad and the ugly of takeout. I suspect that the busy pace that night affected the quality control. Now that two of my last three takeout orders have been missing something, it might be time to consider inspecting the takeout containers before leaving the restaurant’s premises.

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