Piece of Greece on River Street

A small, white-washed building sits on the corner of River Street. It almost seems out of place in its snug location against the brick three- and four-story buildings that make up the rest of the street.

A step inside reveals that, indeed, it is out of place — within those white walls is a little piece of Greece right in the heart of Chattanooga, and it’s called OPA.

“’Opa!’ is something like a ‘Hee-haw!’ in Greece,” explained restaurant owner Michail Borodimos. “When you say ‘Opa’ it’s like when you drink you say ‘Cheers.’ You share your good feelings with the people.”

OPA is Greek to its core, from the posters and photographs of a blue-skied Greece plastered on every wall, to the savory-smelling roast lamb, to Borodimos’ unmistakable and charming Greek accent.

A native of southern Greece, Borodimos has been in the Greek restaurant business for 17 years, he said, and he and his family own four other restaurants … in Greece. Borodimos was working in Miami when he discovered Chattanooga.

“This is something close with Greece,” he said, referring to why he decided to move to Chattanooga. “The weather is the same as Greece.”

He opened OPA last November, choosing the restaurant’s location because of its proximity to Coolidge Park and lots of foot traffic. OPA serves as a bright and delicious-smelling spot in the neighborhood, as Borodimos does most of his cooking and roasting outdoors behind his restaurant.

“I’m thinking this is the perfect idea, because when you cook outside you must prove what’s going on in your kitchen,” he said. “When [passersby] smell something good, maybe they open the door.”

OPA boasts some of the most authentic Greek recipes in a 500-mile radius, said Borodimos. He even follows many of his grandmother’s recipes, but he adds a local twist.

“I prefer to buy fresh meat. I try to spend my money on the local farmers, like the Sequatchie Farm,” he said. “It’s better for the local economy.”

OPA is located at 249 River St. and is open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 305-0038 or visit facebook.com/pages/O-P-A/ 329975657082211?ref=br_tf.