El Paso, TX
I have lived in both Oklahoma City and El Paso, and based on years of experience my stereotype of El Paso is that you cannot find really good American food, barbecue, Latin American cuisine other than Mexican, European food, or Middle Eastern food (there is an equally valid stereotype that you cannot find really good Mexican food in Oklahoma). Of course this is not true in all cases, but if I am to believe otherwise I need to go back to my earlier roots in the Show Me State where I have to taste it to believe it.
Thus when I say Zino’s is as good as the Mediterranean food in Oklahoma, this is about the highest compliment I can give to it. I currently have very limited experience with Zino’s, but the flavor and quality are definitely there to know that this restaurant is not like the many others I have tried (I should also mention that the now closed Mediterranean Restaurant on Mesa near UTEP was also this same type of quality, and increasingly some other restaurants in El Paso are at this level).
Not actually having been to Greece, however, I can only say that Zino’s seems to be the real deal based on what I have tasted in other cities. I know that on-line reviews rave about the gyros (and my friends also like it). I saw items on the menu such as chicken souvlaki that reinforced my idea that Zino’s is making a genuine effort to serve authentic Greek dishes, and combined with what I tasted, this gives me great confidence in the restaurant.
In the case of Zino’s a daily special is something that is not on the regular menu. The one I tried also had a lower price than many of the menu items, so this is what I call a no lose situation. The Lemon Chicken was a Thursday special, but I do not have a list of all of their specials and I do not know if they are changed from time to time.
The chicken was a small piece, and was the kind that had a better flavor than the giant pieces of chicken served in many restaurants. I think it was a breast but I do not remember, and to me it does not matter if it is white or dark meat as long as it is of high quality.
The flavoring was lemon, as they advertised, and actually it is an adaptation of rosemary chicken which was printed on my check (and I think is another one of their daily specials).
What I found out about the specials is that they do not serve a huge quantity, the food is very good, and the price is good. Other than the sandwiches and daily specials, the food mostly comes in large servings at higher prices, and I think is really meant to be served in the evening when people expect larger portion sizes.
In 2021 I got to try Zino’s Moussaka for the first time as a delivery order and of course to get a better overall picture of the food here. This dish was solid, came at a good price, and the quantity was large enough to be filling without being at the point that I had leftovers for another meal. I would say it was much like going to an Italian restaurant where I order items with tomato sauce, and that the tomato sauce was the main flavor component of the dish. When I look at examples of moussaka on line I see photos showing a layer of eggplant on top rather than the tomato sauce, so I am not sure why the one at Zino’s is different. It did taste good, although I thought the one at Casa Pizza was more traditional and that the flavor was a bit better.
The Lunch Salad was notable for being small but loaded with lots of good stuff (as I would describe it in technical food review terms). If the salad had not been as good as the other parts of the meal (meat, pita, rice, tzatziki sauce) I would not give this restaurant as high of an endorsement as I am doing.
The menu lists three types of salad including tabouli. According to the photos I saw on the menu, most of the dinner plates did not come with a salad. Perhaps this changed on their post-COVID menu because the moussaka I ordered did come with a salad.
Summing It Up
Zino’s was one of the first restaurants in El Paso that showed me that there is very high quality Mediterranean food here. Since then I have found a number of very good Middle Eastern restaurants, but Zino’s is still one of the best for more traditional Mediterranean food.
So far my favorite item is one they had as a lunch special before the pandemic. I do not know how they now stand on the lunch specials but I think the menu is mostly the same as it was before.
There is another location at 6590 Montana Ave. in El Paso (on the east side).
Cuisine: Greek & Mediterranean
Hours: Open Daily
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Apr. 8, 2021
Number of Visits: 2
Best Item: Lemon Chicken