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Meze: Bigger & Better Than Ever

In Greek, the word "Meze" translates as "taste," also often used to refer to a small and refined tasting plate. At Meze Greek Fusion Bar and Restaurant, now at its new larger location on 6th Avenue in the historic Gaslamp Quarter and East Village area, you'll find plenty of classic Greek fare with a healthy Southern California fusion influence thrown in for good measure.

A perfect first stop before a San Diego Padres game or as a place to fuel up before a night of Gaslamp bar hopping, the friendly and open Meze features full traditional Greek brunch and dinner menus plus rotating specialty cocktails, an extensive list of fine Greek wines and cordials, and even a hookah bar with a ton of new flavors to try.

The new renovated location features an updated and expanded menu in a party-like atmosphere, with a friendly yet professional wait staff, belly dancing events on the weekends, and the new Greek Taco Tuesday special event with discounted prices for service industry professionals.

While Meze offers full brunch and dinner menus, the restaurants greatest strength is its namesake meze plates, or small and focused cuisine perfect for pairing with one of the restaurant's many cocktails. What's new this month? The "Bye Felicia" is a fresh and light choice to go along with a meze plate of saganaki, a fried cheese, or spanakopita, that delicious and classic Greek dish made with flaky filo dough, lots of spinach and feta cheese.

Looking for satisfying larger plates instead? From melt-in-your-mouth lamb tenderloin to a tender filet and classic gyros, this is Greek fare done right: filling and substantial while remaining surprisingly healthy for those watching their calories. It's no wonder people in the Mediterranean live longer than anywhere else on Earth!

For larger parties, the restaurant serves up family-style full dinner platters and combinations feature carefully selected pairings of hot and cold meze plates. You'll even find old-world Greek deserts to choose from, like rizogalo, that delicious yet not too sweet rice pudding infused with mastiha.

An expanded wine list features by-the-glass and by-the-bottle selections from California Wine Country, Greece, France and Italy, and even rare selections like a Doña Paula Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina at $32 per bottle.

The outdoor hookah seating area allows you to watch the goings-on in the Gaslamp as the sun sets while enjoying more than 22 flavors and even special mixed drinks that pair well with the classic Greek pastime of hookah smoking. The hookah area is well-separated from the primary dining area such that those who prefer not to be around tobacco use will not find their space encroached upon.

Weekend brunch on the outdoor patio could become your next family tradition, with bottomless mimosas and a selection of gourmet omelets and egg dishes, plus smoked salmon plates, salads and a special menu of hot and cold meze plates that pair perfectly with those lazy, sunny Sundays.

Located at 345 6th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101, Meze Greek Fusion Bar and Restaurant accepts reservations by phone or online, though the space is large enough that diners do not have much trouble with wait times when stopping by on a whim.

Prices for full dinners, served all day, range from $16 to $28. Meze plates perfect for lighter appetites, sharing and drink pairings go for $6 to $23 with a large number of selections under $10. Specialty cocktails are generally $12, while the large wine list features many curated bottle selections under $50.

The atmosphere is casual-friendly, yet is the perfect place to take a date, or your mother. Visit the restaurant's website at gaslampmeze.com for info on special events, seasonal meze plates and cocktails, and contact information regarding banquets, catering and larger parties. And don't forget about happy hour, which here runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., where you'll find some of the best drink specials in the Gaslamp.

Whether with friends or family, or if you are a local or a traveler, classic Greek dining with San Diego flair should be part of your itinerary during your visit to the always-vibrant Gaslamp Quarter. And don't forget about Greek Taco Tuesday!