The chef behind Inotheke, a modern Greek restaurant that shut its doors in downtown Santa Monica earlier this year, is back with a new concept.
ELA Greek Eats opened this week at 307 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice, a few blocks from the Santa Monica border. The takeout-oriented restaurant serves similar fare to Inotheke, including Greek classics like spanakopita, mousaka and souvlaki. Chef Carolos Tomazos, an alumnus of three-star restaurant Per Se in New York, said ELA marks his transition from upscale to casual dining.
“For three and a half years, I had a full restaurant in Santa Monica,” said Tomazos, who originally hails from Cyprus. “I wanted to downsize, but I still wanted to work with Greek cuisine, and the market for casual Greek cuisine in Los Angeles hasn’t really taken off yet.”
Tomazos said he adapted the light and citrusy dishes he was serving at Inotheke to work in the context of a 15-seat restaurant that plans to do much of its business through food delivery apps like Postmates.
He said the menu ranges from simple gyros with tzatziki or tahini, tomatoes shallots and fresh herbs to fully composed dishes like lamb soutzoukakia. There are also vegetable sides roasted with olive oil, lemon, oregano and garlic, dips and spreads with pita, assorted salads and four traditional Greek desserts. Much of the menu is vegan, he said.
The dishes cost substantially less than Inotheke, which served sophisticated share plates and was known for its wine selection. At ELA, gyros and salads cost $10, mousaka and meat dishes are priced around $14 and dips and spreads will run you $5.
“It’s very much the same food as Inotheke, just in different containers and better value, because with a smaller space and fewer employees I can afford to charge less,” Tomazos said.
He added he wanted to start out with Greek foods that customers would be familiar with and might add regional or more esoteric dishes later on.
“You come in, look at the board and see some strange words, but it doesn’t matter — we’ll explain what it is right away,” Tomazos said. “It’s all fresh, light and very approachable. Don’t let some fancy Greek words discourage you.”