Photography by Kathy Tran.

Kostas Ioannidis came to the United States from Greece in 1976 with years of experience in the restaurant industry. He started in kitchens in some of the best restaurants in his home country while he was still in his mid-teens. When he moved to Dallas, he found work at Vincent’s Seafood, which was located near Bachman Lake. After being there a couple years, he took a job at a steakhouse and stayed about nine years. 

Around that time, Ioannidis was offered the opportunity to go into business with a partner, another Greek man, and open a restaurant in East Dallas.

“Both of us, we started with very, very little money,” he says. “We just put a lot of personal work, so that’s how we started.”

The location they chose, 4914 Greenville Ave., had housed a pizza place. They transformed it into Kostas Cafe, which opened in January 1987 with little interest from the public. Only a handful of customers showed up on its first day, but Ioannidis and his namesake restaurant remained. The other Ioannidis brothers, Zissis and Dimitri, opened two Kostas Cafe locations in Plano. Only one of them, which started about 17 years ago, remains.

Kostas Cafe is a small place that screams Greek from the moment a foot steps in the door. Greek music is always played. Photos of Greece are hung on the walls. And the Greek language can be heard from some of the 11 staff members and customers alike.

Since the beginning, Ioannidis has worked to create an authentic Greek restaurant. White tablecloths are used, just like they are in the best restaurants in his native country and the U.S. 

“When you get inside, you know you’re in a Greek restaurant right away,” he says.

The menu, curated from Ioannidis’ years of experience in Greek restaurants, offers all the traditional dishes: gyros, saganaki, dolmas, moussaka and more. Lamb kebabs and lamb chops, spiced with pepper and garlic, are some of the most popular choices for dinner service. Ioannidis says those selections are his favorites, too.

For lunch, many customers choose Greek salads with chicken or chicken lemonato, where the meat is lightly sauteed in a lemon butter.

Customers also rave about the soups, including the avgolemono, an egg and lemon soup. And many diners pair their entrees with the restaurant’s Greek wines. 

The tzatziki is so popular that a company based in Chicago contacted Ioannidis to discuss getting the dip — made with yogurt, cucumber, garlic and olive oil — on the market. When we spoke with him, Ioannidis wasn’t sure what would come of the meeting, but he was open to the opportunity. 

Spices are purchased from Chicago-based supplier Kronos Foods, but meat and seafood are bought from local suppliers. Fish come whole and are butchered in house.

“The food is very healthy and very tasty,” he says.  

Loyalty has gone hand in hand with Kostas Cafe’s longevity in our neighborhood. The pandemic forced one employee to leave, but he had been with the restaurant for more than two decades. One chef still at the restaurant has been working there for about 15 years.

The same loyalty is held by the customers. Some of them have been dining there about once a week for the past 35 years. 

“Each restaurant has their own touch,” Ioannidis says. “But we keep it very authentic.” 

Kostas Cafe, 4914 Greenville Ave., 214.987.3225
Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Dinner: 5-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday, noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday