Kiki’s is an interesting place. This casual Greek restaurant comes to you from the people behind Forgetmenot, the popular and funky bar just a few steps away on Division Street. On one hand, it’s a Lower Lower East Side hot spot that all of the cool young people in the area frequent. On the other hand, you will also probably see someone who looks like your dad having dinner here. And your dad is not that cool.
That dichotomy is actually one of the things that we like the most about Kiki’s. You are just as likely to find someone in their 50s eating here as a skinny model-looking girl who is 30% hat. Part of that is likely due to the fact that the owners have set out to make this a neighborhood restaurant, in the sense that most of the neighborhood seems to be filled with their friends and family. There is a communal and familiar vibe to the place, and that’s what gives it charm.
But that seems to also be what causes the problems we’ve found with Kiki’s. Every time we’ve eaten here, we’ve gotten a fairly clear impression that we’re not part of the inner circle. If you’ve ever been to a really cool restaurant in Paris, you know the feeling. You’re excited to be there, and there is definitely an energy in the room, but the service is weird and you’re pretty sure they’re talking about you. That, and the wine is served in tiny cups.
Aside from the atmosphere, the food at Kiki’s is definitely good. The menu is large and features mostly homey, no-frills Greek cuisine, consisting of traditional favorites like moussaka and spanakopita. Many of the dishes are either served with fries or consist of something on top of fries, and nobody is ever mad at that. But the best things tend to be the most basic, like the grilled octopus that only needs a squeeze of lemon and a side of cold Greek beer to reach its true potential.
Ultimately, our best advice as to how to have a great meal here is to know someone on the inside. The waits tend to be at least an hour during prime dining time, and our worst experiences with the service have come when we have questions about the menu. Maybe there’s nothing to know about a plate of roasted chicken. Or maybe we’re just not that cool.
By far our favorite thing to eat at Kiki’s. This octopus is not the grilled-to-death version that you’ve likely had at other restaurants around town, but a perfectly tender, perfectly simple bowl of sea monster arms. No big deal.
Another tasty simple thing. Proceed.
This dip made from eggplant mash should be on your table, assuming you’re down with eggplant. If not, hit up a straightforward tzatziki.
We love a good roasted chicken at a good Greek restaurant. We’d give this one a B-.