The Best Greek Restaurants In NYC
If your last viewing of Mamma Mia left you dreaming about fresh fish, souvlaki, and octopus, here are the best places to eat those things.
There will be days when you look up at the sky and all you see are clouds shaped like lamb chops and big blocks of feta. This could be because you recently fell asleep watching Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (and now that movie is a part of your brain)—or, more likely, it’s because you want some Greek food. Either way, use this guide to our favorite Greek restaurants in NYC. A lot of the places are in Astoria (due to the fact that Astoria has a lot of excellent Greek food), but there are also a bunch of other great spots all around the city. And no matter where it is, every single one of these restaurants is worth a trip.
Taverna Kyclades is one of Astoria’s best-loved Greek restaurants. Between the consistently excellent food and cozy, low key atmosphere, we’ve never had a bad experience here. Seafood is the specialty, and your order should be built around whatever whole fish sounds best with a side (or two) of tart, melt-in-your-mouth lemon potatoes. Bulk it out with a lot of sharable starters, like the assortment of dips, some charred greek sausage, and the complimentary galaktoboureko they drop at the end of the meal.
Astoria is home to a number of excellent souvlaki trucks, but you’ll always see a crowd around Franky’s on Steinway, and for good reason. Their meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, shrimp) is high quality, and they put large, generous chunks of it in their gyros and sandwiches. The best experiences here are spontaneous, when the smell of freshly cooked meat wafts down the street and you can’t resist stopping by for a nicely seasoned stick of lamb.
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photo credit: Daniel Krieger
Loi Estiatorio is one of those Midtown spots that feels like it's been around forever, but stays under the radar. The focus at this unfussy restaurant is very much on the food, which includes a simple, but skillfully prepared branzino and a flavorful Greek salad topped with creamy feta that ends up being a surprise favorite. The dining room could use a little pizzazz, but this is still a good spot to become a lunchtime regular, and you’ll see people having semi-formal celebration dinners and date nights here too.
photo credit: To Laiko
To Laiko is a Greek coffee shop right by the Ditmars station in Astoria that makes excellent frappes and even better pies. The pies are stuffed with spinach, halloumi, meat, or leek, with thick, buttery shells that are just flaky enough. There are also a number of other sweet and savory pastries and coffee drinks, so use this place as a pitstop for some breakfast before you get on the train.
The entryway of Bahari Estiatorio in Astoria has a big refrigerator on display of once-living fish with eyes that follow you like they’re in a painting. But move past the fish and you’ll see two huge dining spaces large enough to host a wedding (we’re certain these happen here). This place is huge, and usually pretty busy with groups drinking carafes of wine and ordering seafood from the display up front. We especially like the lamb chops here, and the assortment of Greek dips that are divided up with pieces of cucumbers into a little wreath. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a party, this is a great choice.
A tiny, excellent Greek restaurant on 7th Street in the East Village. Pylos is one of those spots that you either know about and absolutely love, or have never heard of. There is no in between. Focus on the appetizers, like fried zucchini, halloumi, and then make sure to get the artichoke moussaka.
Of all the places on this list, Astoria Seafood is the only one where you get to hand-pick exactly what you want to eat. This place is part fish market and part restaurant, and there’s a big display in the back where you get to choose your own seafood and bag it up before you hand it over to the kitchen. There’s always a pretty big selection of things like snapper, porgy, shrimp, and octopus, and when your server delivers everything fresh from the grill, you’ll be grateful for every last thing you chose. As an added bonus, this place is BYOB. The only real downside is that it gets extremely busy, but it’s worth a wait. So pick up a few bottles, and bring some friends.
photo credit: Chona Kasinger
Aliada’s menu is full of pretty typical Greek specialties. There’s an incredibly soft and citrus-y octopus dish with tomatoes, caper berries, and onions on top, and some fried and sweet saganaki triangles that we’d like for our next birthday cake. This Astoria spot is the sort of comfortable, laid-back place where you could bring your entire family or someone you hope to one day convince to meet your entire family. There’s a great patio area out front with herb planters everywhere, and inside, there are bowls of tomatoes sitting around just for fun.
Telly’s Taverna has about as many options for grilled whole fish as there are birthday cards in CVS categorized as “funny birthday.” But unlike a card with a glittery sloth on it, you’ll actually want to spend money on these fish. Pick your favorite (if you need a visual, they’re all sitting on ice in the front of the restaurant) and then get some grilled or fried vegetables and spanakopita. The amount of tables at Telly’s is infinite, and they even have some nice sidewalk seating and an enclosed garden in the back. This is some of the best Greek food in Astoria - which, as you’ll notice from this guide, is saying something.
If you put Agnanti Meze on the Lower East Side, there would be a line to get in every single night. That’s how good the food here is. Fortunately for you, this place is in Astoria, where there’s an abundance of quality Greek food - and you could probably stop by and get a table right now. This place serves some of the best grilled octopus in the neighborhood, and they also make some very good dips and a bunch of things wrapped in puff pastry that you’ll think about while you lie awake at night. Bring a date or a big group, and go for a walk through Astoria Park (across the street) afterward.
This small West Village spot has a loyal following and an excellent Greek salad. It also has a great wine list full of Greek wines that start at $12 by the glass, and it’s perfect for a date night in the West Village when you want to share a bunch of things (like zucchini fritters and saganaki) and leave without spending all the money you have earmarked for clothing and shelter. Start with the lamb meatballs, and make a reservation. This place fills up at night.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Loukoumi is the name of a children’s book about a cute little lamb. It’s also the name of this classic Greek establishment that serves an excellent plate of lamb (don’t overthink this while you’re there). This Astoria spot is a bit further East than a lot of the other Greek restaurants in the neighborhood, but the food and garden patio make it worth a trip over. They serve traditional dishes like souvlaki and saganaki, but we like some of the lesser-known dishes best and would come back again just for the sweetbreads.
Ovelia Psistaria Bar
If you want Greek brunch, Ovelia on 30th Avenue in Astoria is the best place to have it. During weekend mornings, they have Greek-inspired dishes like bacon egg and cheese on pita, and a very good stack of baklava pancakes (made with whole wheat flour, walnuts, and a lot of honey). At dinner, the menu is a bit more traditional, with dips, salads, and massive entrees. If you eat meat, the monastiraki bifteki is what you should be ordering here—it comes with fries and kebabs with ground lamb, beef, and pork.
The taramosalata at Souvlaki GR should come with two little yellow strips of mouth caution tape for after you eat it (it’s intensely fishy, amazing, and we think about it all the time). Aside from the fish dip, we rely on the Greek wraps and other mezzes at this place for a quick and inexpensive meal that’s consistently good.
Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna
Part of the reason why we like Gregory’s is because it feels like the home of someone who’s been to Greece many times and always brings back at least seven souvenirs. It’s a small space, decorated with seashells, flags, model boats, and various paintings of seaside scenes on what appear to be Greek islands. And the other reason why we like this place is for the delicious, straightforward food. The calamari and octopus are especially good here—but if you just want one thing, order some shawarma with lemon potatoes.
Greek potatoes are the greatest potatoes. For proof of this, you should go to Yefsi on the Upper East Side and order anything that comes with a side of them. They’re sliced in half, extremely lemon-y, and stand up on the plate like little Stonehenge wannabees. This spot is definitely on the fancy side, and you should save it for dinners where everyone is comfortable spending a bit of money. Order the zucchini croquettes and lamb souvlaki, and it’ll be worth it.
photo credit: Alex Staniloff
Much like a video of a raccoon eating grapes or a large supply of unpopped bubble wrap, the lamb chops at Eléa will never fail to please us. They come with a big pile of fries on the side, and they’re one of our favorite things to eat on the UWS. The crudo and hummus are also great, and, as an added bonus, the space is big enough to fit you and every single one of your acquaintances. There’s an attractive upstairs with white walls and a U-shaped bar where you can grab some food by yourself, and there’s also a big downstairs area that’s perfect for group dinners.
This New York City classic has been open since the ’80s, and your family members who have lived in NYC forever probably still love it. If you’ve never been, you should go experience it for yourself. Not just as a relic of a time when the term “Modern Greek Cuisine” was a new thing in this city, but as a legitimately good option for an upscale dinner in Flatiron. Stick to the classics (like the octopus, the greek salad, and rabbit stew) and try to sit in the all-white greenhouse space in the back.