An array of Greek-inspired food choices await at Echoes Cafe, the new Houston restaurant. (Photo by Rebekah Flores)
Get a look inside the new Montrose music hub and Greek restaurant called Echoes Cafe. (Photo by Sina Productions)
Echoes Cafe co-chefs Ana Stanciu and Armando Ramirez are hus. (Photo by Rebekah Flores)
The grilled octopus at Echoes Cafe is a classic, grilled and laid bare with the simplest of cooking techniques over skinned, boiled potatoes sprinkled with smoked paprika ($23). (Photo by Rebekah Flores)
It doesn't get more Greek than spanakopita, the spinach-filled phyllo-wrapped savory pastry at Echoes Cafe. (Photo by Rebekah Flores)
You can a night at Echoes Cafe with a sweet orange almond cake. (Photo by Rebekah Flores)
Fans of vinyl rock can likely relate to the name of Georgeos, Fivos and Alexia Kazilas’ cool new Montrose bar, music venue and restaurant. It is called Echoes Cafe. Frankly, the allusion flew right over my blonde highlights until Georgeos Kazilas — the son of Fivos and a fan of all genres of music — explained that “Echoes” is a Pink Floyd track on the Meddle album.
Now, Houston’s own Echoes Cafe is situated on the second story of Carriage Glass & Detail, an auto-detailing business adjacent to Fivos Kazilas’ Shell gas station.
Last year, father and son decided to close off a former tunnel car wash adjoining the business and turn it into a rotating gallery space. Next, they built upwards to create Echoes, a loft-like, open-air cafe serving the Greek food of Fivos’ homeland with Mexican influences that reflect his mother’s heritage. After 5 pm, Georgeos rotates a selection of tunes, from Roxy Music to his beloved Pink Floyd, and books local DJs and bands for a mix of genres. This Houston music restaurant is inspired by Cafe Oto in London, In Sheep’s Clothing in Los Angeles and Public Records in New York.
Echoes Cafe’s husband-and-wife co-chefs Armando Ramirez and Ana Stanciu deftly translate and modernize the foods of the Greek culture and bring the best to a tightly edited menu. Ramirez hails from Oaxaca. He spent time under the tutelage of Houston chef Hugo Ortega at Oretga’s Backstreet Cafe early in his career, then worked at Da Marco, BCN, MAD, Hugo’s and Caracol. Ramireaz also worked in Europe where he met Madrid native Ana Stanciu, a Cordon Bleu-trained veteran of the Michelin three-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Spain.
Now, this chef couple spins out traditional mezze selections including spanakopita, a perfectly prepared butter phyllo with feta and spinach ($9), and a trio of dips — melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant), muhammara (red pepper and walnut) and tzatziki (yogurt-based cucumber and garlic spread) — brought to the table with warm, toasted pita slices ($9) at Echoes Cafe.
The Echoes Cafe Menu
For your main course, don’t miss the smoked tempura eggplant, its flesh infused with the subtle smoke of its charred skin, peeled then fried in a light Japanese-style tempura batter and topped with tomato confit and onion ($10). The grilled octopus is a classic, grilled and laid bare with the simplest of cooking techniques over skinned, boiled potatoes sprinkled with smoked paprika ($23). Calamari at Echoes Cafe is far from the flash-fried version served elsewhere. At Echoes, the squid is pan-seared intact and served with a bright-flavored green olive and parsley sauce accented with garlic and red Fresno chiles ($17).
Another menu highlight is the crisped king salmon, which teeters atop a bed of quinoa and arugula salad dressed with tangy lemon vinaigrette ($25). There are three salads on the menu: a typical Greek salad dubbed the Echoes Horiatiki ($12), a roasted beet salad with orange vinaigrette ($10) and a cranberry, toasted walnut, and mizithra-cheese-spiked kale salad ($10).
In my estimation, however, the cocktails are one of Echoes Cafe’s major draws. Bar manager Erica Sipple oversees the development of such tinctures as the Mikis spritz, which highlights Skinos Mastiha, one of the revered exports of Chios, Greece. Here the mastic distillation is blended with grapefruit cordial, Lillet rosé, dry Curaçao and lime ($10). Or try the 4 AM, a cheeky Day-Glo green concoction that brings to mind Midori drinks of yesteryear, with melon liqueur, green chartreuse and smoky mezcal ($14).
The wine list is global, pulled from small boutique wineries focused on organic and biodynamic techniques. But why not try a wine from Greece, such as the floral-forward white Skouras Moscofilero ($10) or Tselepos Amalia Rosé ($15)?
Echoes Cafe is open for dinner, brunch and late night, with lunch set to come later this year. Its current hours are 5 pm to midnight Tuesdays through Saturdays. Brunch is served 10 am to 3 pm Sundays. Echoes is closed Mondays. You’ll find it 900 Richmond Avenue (with the entrance on Rosalind Street).