I love spinach, and my favorite way to enjoy it is in spinach pie. Over the years, I have collected lots of recipes for Greek spinach pie, aka spanakopita, but I’m just too lazy to go to all that trouble. (So many layers of phyllo dough!) Instead, I seek it out in Coney Island restaurants and diners.

I’ve ordered this treat almost everywhere it is offered within a 30-mile radius, and my favorite is the pie served at Athena’s Diner. This spinach pie is a long, fat roll of phyllo dough that holds the traditional feta cheese and spinach filling. It is cut in half and served with fresh tomato slices and tzatziki sauce. Sometimes I add a Greek side salad. Half of this spinach pie is a perfect dinner for me, and the other half comes home for tomorrow’s lunch.

Why is it so perfect? The spinach is tender, without the stringiness or coarseness I have found in other restaurants’ versions. The feta and egg give it the right tang and texture, and the herbs enhance the flavor without overpowering. The outer layers of rich phyllo dough are browned to crisp and tasty perfection. Topped with Athena’s supremely rich and garlicky tzatziki sauce, the combination is sublime.

One cannot live on spinach pie alone, and I’m happy to report that I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ordered at Athena’s. This diner serves up delicious homemade-style specials like meatloaf and lasagna at prices close to what it costs to make them at home. I hear the desserts are wonderful, but I never have any room left after my spinach pie!


Athena’s Diner

6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday- Saturday,
8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
3109 S. Cedar Ave., Lansing
(517) 394-0072, athenasdiner.com

What’s your favorite dish/drink?

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