The Roadster is a family-owned burger joint with a Greek twist. (“Yia Yia” is Greek for “granny.”) A lot of times, hybrid restaurants fall flat on one side of the equation or the other think of all those barbecue/burger joints with great burgers but lame ‘cue. Not the Roadster; not only are their burgers juicy and delicious, but they also dish out mean moussaka and savory souvlaki.
(The gyros, hot dogs and Philly cheese steaks are also worth investigating.) Owner Nick Semoudiaris treats his customers like family — you’re never a stranger at the Roadster.
10 Great Ethnic Eateries
Its name, much of its menu and look are carryovers from previous owners. But the small letters “Yia-Yia” — an endearing term for a Greek grandmother — on the logo are a giveaway that this is something more than just a great hamburger joint. Nick Semoudiaris wisely has incorporated mom Koula Gray’s masterful Greek home cooking into his more conventional menu at this converted Taco Bell in the heart of Bellaire.
DINING OUT: Roadster Grill
By Ted Powers:
Inside a sky blue, stand-alone building on Bissonnet, sits one of the best hamburger joints in town. Owner Nick Semoudiaris has a great menu and, with recipes from his mother, Koula Gray, known as Yia Yia, they also dish out some of the best Greek food around. If that’s not enough, they have a new dinner menu with lamb chops, steak, Greek chicken and salmon. One more thing that’s a big hit, he has a couple of all beef hot dogs that are Hebrew National kosher. What a great mix of delicious, ethnic and American foods!
Nick has an outstanding résumé, including stints as general manager of Florida Seafood grill, formerly Floridita and as manager at Truluck’s. He selects his meats and vegetables carefully and even purchases his pita breads from Chicago, because he thinks they taste the best.
Nothing fancy at Roadster – you order at the counter, draw your own drinks, then wait for the food to come out. No ambience to speak of, but the reason they are always busy is that the food is really good, the prices reasonable, and the menu so large that there is something for everyone, including the kids. Roadster is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is served from 6:30 until 10:30 a.m.
My favorite breakfast is the Greek Three Egg Omelet. This beauty is loaded with spinach, mushrooms, onions and feta cheese with tzatziki sauce on the side. It comes with Greek breakfast potatoes but sometimes I substitute a side of Deluxe Greek Potatoes with feta, grilled tomatoes and red onion. This is a knockout omelet! Another good choice is the Breakfast Pita with eggs, potato, cheddar and jack cheeses. Of course, they have the regular breakfast items; I just love the Greek touch. Another not-to-be-missed dish is Baklava Griddle Cakes topped with candied walnuts. What a combination! You also can get breakfast steaks or a breakfast burger.
For lunch or dinner, let’s start with the Roadster Burgers. There are a dozen varieties, and any one can be made into a Gardenburger, or you can substitute turkey for any meat. If you want a hot dog, the Hebrew National wieners come two ways: with mustard, ketchup and onions or with chili and onions.
When I want Greek food, I start off with an exceptional Hummus and/or Spanakopita, flaky phyllo filled with spinach and feta, or dolmades, stuffed grape leaves. Then, my big decision is: do I want Pastitsio, also known as Greek lasagna or Moussaka, oven-baked layers of eggplant, potato and beef. They both come with a Greek salad and roasted veggies. I find, if I order a bunch of dishes and share it around the table, it makes for a terrific and interesting meal. Nick told me that the most popular dish on the menu is the Souvlaki Salad. It comes with grilled beef or chicken over a crisp Greek salad and served with warm pita bread.
New to The Roadster menu are the dinner specials. I’ve tried Lamb Chops and Grilled Salmon, and they are outstanding. Both are marinated overnight with Greek herbs and spices and cooked perfectly to your order. With them, you get a choice of Greek potatoes, crispy fries or rice pilaf and a small Greek salad. Dinner is served 5 to 9 p.m.
There is a Kid’s Menu for lunch and dinner and also for breakfast, including burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, chocolate chip pancakes, French toast, eggs, shakes and malts. Kids and adults, alike, can end the meal with Yia Yia’s delicious authentic Baklava or Chocolate Bundt Cake.
If you are having a party at home, you can purchase large platters of Greek Family Favorites packaged in buffet-style catering pans. A great starter for your event is the Greek Anti-Pasti platter with dolmades, olives, marinated feta, hummus, bean salad, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes and pita bread with tzatziki sauce.
Open everyday from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Roadster is located at 5210 Bissonnet Street, where Bellaire Boulevard crosses Bissonnet, 713-432-1800.