Opa! is now serving lunch, brunch and dinner at a downtown corner space recently notorious for short-lived restaurants. 140 University Ave. was last home to alkymists for less than two months, and before that, Palo Alto Grill for 15 months. alkymists suddenly shuttered in November 2014 and Opa! laid claim to the 3,926-square-foot space early this year.
Opa! owner Angelo Heropoulos, a a Bay Area native (who was actually born at Stanford Hospital), was a lawyer for many years until he turned a love for food into a business, opening the first Opa! in Willow Glen in 2008. The concept was designed for cost-conscious diners during the Recession: "We wanted to make quality affordable," Heropoulos said.
He took family recipes (both his parents were born in Greece, came to the United States at a young age and now are back in their home country) and "put a California twist on them," he said. The menu is vast, with numerous Greek-style appetizers, spreads, salads, flatbreads, gyros, pita sandwiches, souvlaki, grilled meats and fish and plenty of less traditional items like sliders and a cheesesteak pita sandwich.
Opa! now operates six restaurants in the Bay Area: Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Willow Glen, Walnut Creek and Campbell. The Palo Alto location has some new menu items and a "refined" wine program, Heropoulos said.
A fun anecdote: Heropoulos said he actually dined at Miyake for many years -- the tenant of 140 University Ave. for decades before Palo Alto Grill -- while still a lawyer.
"If you would have come to me 10 years ago and said, 'Hey angelo, you're going to own this restaurant (space) and you're going to open a Greek place,' I would have looked at you and said, 'You're absolutely nuts.'"
Opa! Palo Alto will be open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. with small plates for $4.50, half-off house wine and other drink specials.
Readers: Has anyone dined at the other local Opa! locations? What was it like?