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by Hilton Kean Jones on January 24, 2009

in Florida, Mediterranean, restaurants, St. Petersburg

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Recently, a friend read this St. Pete Times review by Times Food Critic, Laura Reiley and told me about the restaurant it reviewed, Zeko’s Mediterranean Grill (4880 54th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, FL; 727-525-9356). Since we’re both fans of middle eastern food, we decided to give it a try. We were glad we did.

Although the first impression is that this is a fast food restaurant, that’s simply not the case. Our meals were of authentic quality. The food is not mass-produced, it’s all prepared on the premises. You do place your order at the counter but staff bring the food to your table. The plates and cutlery are plastic, but that’s the only thing about this nice little place I didn’t like. I’ll definitely be returning to Zeko’s. It’s worth a try if you enjoy Mediterranean food; I think you’ll be pleased.

My friend had eggplant in a pita wrap with veggies prepared somewhat like tempura (I got to sample some–really good!). I had chicken kabobs with a basmati type rice mixed with fresh chopped parsley and a terrific cucumber salad (so good I wanted to buy some extra for an afternoon snack at home). Everything was tasty, the spices just right, extremely fragrant, meat perfectly done, tender. My meal, including a drink, was under $10. Zeko’s has take-out and special “family” packages of meals that serve more than one person.

The owner, who is Lebanese, also owns the very successful Salem’s Gyro (1735 34th St. S., St Petersburg, FL 33711; 727-321-7771) sandwich shop in south St. Pete that’s open to 4 in the morning. (Haven’t tried that myself, but I’ve heard it’s a favorite of the south St. Pete late-night folk.) Our waitress said that another Zeko’s is planned on 22nd Ave. N. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

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Zeko's Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon
Salem's Gyro & Subs III on Urbanspoon

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike from St. Petersburg March 19, 2009 at 8:35 pm

I agree with you, Hilton. Zeko’s is very good. I am also a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine. In fact, Persian (i.e., Iranian) food is my absolute favorite. We lived for 10 years in the Washington DC area, where there seems to be a very large community of Persian people and, thus, a lot of Persian restaurants. Our next door neighbors were Persian and they sometimes had us over for dinner. What a treat! All that Persian food is one of the few things we miss about living up North.

There is a Persian restaurant on Gulf to Bay in Clearwater called The Mirage. They have a nice lunch buffet that you might want to check out some time. Just down the street from Zeko’s on 54th Ave and a block before you get to 66th St is a Middle Eastern store called Cedar Market. They have a wonderful array of all kinds of Middle Eastern groceries. They also make some home made deserts and pita type sandwiches that are extremely good. The pita they use is not the heavy Greek style. It has a thin, soft texture. They don’t have a lot of seating, because their main thing is selling groceries, but if you like Middle Eastern food you really should check them out for lunch sometime. The owner is from Lebanon and I think his wife runs the “deli” and makes the sandwiches, deserts and so forth.


Hilton Kean Jones March 20, 2009 at 4:29 am

Thanks, Mike. I will definitely try both of those out. I’m willing to travel a far piece to get some really good Middle Eastern food. They abounded up by USF in north Tampa because of the university, so I’m a bit spoiled. I will track down your suggestions. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Joe Farr March 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

I was very impressed with this place, great addition to this part of St. Pete.
Very friendly staff, food was great, prices close to a fast food place, but great quality. Will definitely go back. thanks for the owner and the staff.


Linda April 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Good to know about this location. Thanks for all your reviews, I’m enjoying exploring your site…

I see you don’t have a middle eastern restaurant reviewed yet in Tampa. Definitely try Ghengis Khan at the corner of MacDill and Interbay in South Tampa (south of Gandy). Don’t go if you need/expect quick service (they are bit slow), but that just adds to the charm of this restaurant for me. Even though they say they are a Mediterranean Grill, It’s actually got more of Turkish flavor to it, and when I was in Turkey, NOTHING happened quickly…so I just consider the service to be pretty ‘authentic’. Order an appetizer and enjoy the fresh ekmak (bread) and socialize while waiting for the main meal. The food is pretty yummy, and the lamb shish kabobs are seasoned just as I remember when I was in Turkey. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in S. Tampa.


Hilton Kean Jones April 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Thank you for telling me about this. I will definitely follow up on Ghengis Khan. Sounds wonderful. There used to be a great Iranian restaurant in the Wooden Nickel strip mall on Fletcher at 15th St. The original owner, who was a wonderful gentleman, passed away, but it was bought by a younger couple who maintained the quality of the original. But, they changed the name and I’ve forgotten both the old and new names. It was frequented by USF middle eastern students. It was there that I first saw people eating raw onions as if they were apples…amazing. I remember the original owner teaching me how to drink tea over a sugar cube held between my front teeth. Would love to know if the place still exists and is as good as it used to be. I just never get up into the NE corner of Tampa much any more.


Cindi July 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Well today was my first time eating at Zeko’s and I must say it was good. Although I do not like hummas!!!


Yousef August 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Hey Hilton… Do you mean ” Morae’s Persian Cafe ” @ 1441 E Fletcher Ave, #123, Tampa, FL 33612? I am on vacation her at Tampa and I was looking for a good persian restaurant and I saw your website. I am still searching online but I found Morae’s. I am planning to go today and check it. Thanks!


Hilton Kean Jones August 22, 2009 at 6:57 pm

YES! Morae’s Persian Cafe up on East Fletcher. I used to eat there at least once a week back when the original owners had it. Then one of them died and it was sold to a young couple. I ate there a couple times after that before I moved away and I was pleased to see they kept the same menu and the quality was just as good. It’s been several years, now, so I don’t know if it has maintained that quality, but my guess is that is has. Thanks for mentioning the name. I’d totally forgotten it. MORAE’S. I do so wish there were a Persian restaurant in St. Pete.


Tim December 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

your store, the people you have working for you are all great, friendly, great attitudes, the food is better than great,,, maybe you can change the special more often, or create your own special,,,like a breakfast gyro…an seasonal gyro… a vegie gyro…use your imagination…people like different things, and weird things…think about it, in any case my wife and i will always go to zekos..thanks tim


Susan January 3, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I must say, Zeko’s has been there for many a family night dinner in a pinch. Where else can you get a meal for a family of four (and I have two teenage girls, one is a gymnast who eats her weight in food each meal!) for less than $25? It’s healthy, well prepared and you can eat a full meal with nothing fried! I am however looking for a good Turkish restaurant. Are there any even in this area? Good or otherwise?


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