The pandemic offers many adventures when it comes to eating out.
Washington restaurants arent allowed to serve people inside and are using drive-throughs and creative outdoor seating options, like tents, to keep the lights on. Meanwhile, on a Friday or Saturday night in downtown Lewiston, restaurants appear to bustle with customers crossing state lines for a chance to dine indoors.
With all this in mind, it makes sense that Pullmans newest restaurant, Yia Yia Nikkis, opened in a former bank. Theres no room for seating. The kitchen takes up nearly the entire space and parking is tough to come by. None of this matters because theres a drive-through window.
Cars lined up Friday as people picked up their pre-ordered meals in the disposable foam containers restaurants have come to rely on during the pandemic. When the COVID-19 era is a distant chapter of the past, an unusually thick layer of foam in our dumps will give future archaeologists evidence of our need to find escape through food during this time.
Thats why I was picking up spanakopita, one of my favorite dishes, at this new Greek restaurant. The savory spinach-cheese pie, with its layers of olive oil-soaked phyllo pastry, is hard to come by in the rural Northwest. Yes, you can buy it frozen and there are other places that serve it but, like any regional dish, the possibility of a better version calls. Owner Monir Desoukys recipes come from his experiences growing up in Egypt where the cuisine is influenced by Mediterranean cooking, according to a January article in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
The hot and hearty serving didnt disappoint, nor did the abundant gyro platter with tender seasoned lamb and beef ($12 each). On the menu youll also find salads and pitas made with kofta, traditional Middle Eastern meatballs; falafel; and chicken shawarma, chicken marinated in saffron yogurt sauce ($10 each). Do not miss the opportunity of fresh baklava for dessert ($5). No store-bought version could compare to this. Yia Yia is the most common word for grandma in Greek and you can feel the love in this dish.
Yia Yia Nikkis, 1300 S. Grand Ave., (509) 338-0502.