HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >

Discussion

So Where Is The Best Greek ????

  • j
  • John N. Knoesel Jun 23, 1998 08:06 AM
  • 23
  • Share

As a longtime fan of Greek restaurants in Astoria (
remember Taygetos ? ) I can understand the difference
of opinions that surround places like Telly's & Elia's.
The consistency isn't what it used to be and the fact
that these places get so crowded doesn't help either.
This kind of food is to be enjoyed at a leisurely
pace !!!!.
Lately we've been frequenting Christo's Hasapo and have
really enjoyed every meal so far. One big difference
here is the wait staff - pleasant & ACCESIBLE -
something the old standards have forgotten about.
It doesn't hurt to go early either> Regards> JK

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. "remember Taygetos ?"

    boy, do I!

    I've just posted my column (the first of a two-parter)
    from Down the Hatch about Greek Astoria (arepa, soul
    food, and rodizio updates).
    You can read it at www.chowhound.com/writing/greek.html
    The opinions expressed in the article won't be
    especially fresh for you all, though; much of it
    repeats points I've made on these boards.
    By the way, I'm slowly updating stuff, so please keep
    your eye on the "What's New Chowhound" section
    (accessible via a link on the upper right of the main
    page) and also the dates on the various items indexed
    on that page.
    ciao

    20 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      OK, the standard recommendations have gone
      downhill. So what _is_ the best Greek these days?
      Even if it ain't like it was in the good old days,
      we gotta eat somewhere.

      1. re: Josh

        I've weighed in on this before, so I'll try to keep it
        brief. Christos makes great appetizers and an
        incredible Porterhouse. Their other entrees may be just
        as good, but I've never been able to resist the
        temptation of the big steak once I've arrived. It's my
        favorite Greek in Astoria.

        Zenon, on 31st Avenue and 36th (??) street, has been
        consistantly good--I've been there half-a-dozen times
        since I moved out here last year. I've had the
        occasional mediocrity there--last time the eggplant
        salad was pretty bland--but am much more often very,
        very pleased. The sweetbreads are truly a revelation: I
        never would have thought to eat them until a friend
        insisted. Now I order them just about every time. The
        skordalia is excellent, as are the Greek salad, that
        awesome fried cheese, the taramasalata, and just about
        anything grilled. Very good, very reasonably priced.

        I've only been to Koutoukis (??--30th Street and
        Newtown) once, but it was very good. They pretty much
        serve only appetizers. It's a great way to sample lots
        of different Greek dishes.

        1. re: Tom M

          "Zenon, on 31st Avenue and 36th (??) street, has been
          consistantly good--I've been there half-a-dozen times
          since I moved out here last year. I've had the
          occasional mediocrity there--last time the eggplant
          salad was pretty bland--but am much more often very,
          very pleased"

          It's funny...I REALLY like Zenon when it's good, but I
          disagree with you about their consistency (though YOU
          seem to disagree with YOURSELF on that point in the
          bottom of your message!). I've brought groups there and
          been embarrassed by the food quality. I'll forgive them
          their lows, but I can't recommend the place to others;
          it's just way too unpredictable.
          It's amazing how a place can be sooo different on
          different nights. I think this might be an example of
          the Luzia's syndrome...one great chef with a magic
          touch, but all other hands in the kitchen are clueless.
          Ciao

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Point well taken. What I meant was that I've never had
            an awful meal there, just the occasional subpar dish.
            I'd say that nearly everything else I've had there has
            been in the 'very good' to 'excellent' range. Judging
            from your comments, I've never been there on one of
            their off-nights. Gladly, I might add. I used to live
            out in Boerum Hill and would occasionally eat at Two
            Toms. I had several very, very good monster-size meals
            there, always with the jovial son waiting tables and an
            elderly woman cooking. Then one night--boom! different
            wait staff, different chef, and voila, lousy dinner. It
            was a huge disappointment, almost enough to keep me
            from returning. In fact, I've only since been back for
            friends' birthday feasts and such. Nothing like an
            awful meal--especially when you're expecting something
            great--to take the shine of an apple.

            1. re: Tom M

              "What I meant was that I've never had an awful meal
              there, just the occasional subpar dish. I'd say that
              nearly everything else I've had there has been in
              the 'very good' to 'excellent' range. Judging from
              your comments, I've never been there on one of their
              off-nights. Gladly, I might add"

              ok, now let ME back-pedal a bit. I've never had
              awful there, I've just had meals that inspired
              "hey-what's-the-big-deal" reactions in friends I'd
              enthusiastically dragged there. Nothing awful ever,
              agreed. Just really mediocre and, as you say,
              bland...sometimes.

              Also, it's important to bear in mind that it's not
              that certain dishes are better than others...it
              seems to be inconsistent across the spectrum.
              Brownian motion comes to food service. I wanted to
              put it in my book, but I tried to include only
              boroughs places that are consistently worth the trip
              from manhattan...

              "Nothing like an awful meal--especially when you're
              expecting something great--to take the shine of an
              apple"

              I know, but I pride myself in being really really
              loyal and forgiving (I mean personally; I'm much
              less so in my writing) to places that once fed me
              even one really delicious thing. I try to remember:
              bad food can be the result of an accident, but
              deliciousness is NEVER an accident. Therefore we've
              got to take ups more seriously than downs. Make
              sense?

              1. re: Jim Leff

                I had another fabulous meal at Christos Hasapo (23rd
                Avenue and 41st Street) last night. This time my party
                ordered a variety of meze. We had various dipping
                sauces (tarama, tzatsiki, eggplant), sardines,
                dolomades, fried Cypriot cheese, octopus, Greek
                sausage, and a large Greek salad. Washed it all down
                with carafes of Retsina and finished the meal with a
                dessert made of Filo dough and lemon custard.
                Everything was exceptionally good and the price was
                quite reasonable: about $25 per diner, including tip.

                This is my candidate for best Greek in Astoria. PS:
                They make awesome steaks. IMHO, they have NYC's
                second-best Porterhouse, bested only by Luger's. At
                $42, Christos' Porterhouse for two is much more
                affordable (Luger's charges somewhere in the
                neighborhood of $60, if memory serves me correctly).

      2. re: Jim Leff

        " I've just posted my column (the first of a two-
        parter) from Down the Hatch about Greek Astoria (arepa,
        soul food, and rodizio updates)"

        woops...I should have typed "PLUS arepa, soul food, and
        rodizio updates"

        1. re: Jim Leff
          s
          Steve Plotnicki

          Jim-Similarly to my response to you below, this
          response, which is highlighted by Josh's response
          below, is a case in point. Responding to the question
          of where to eat in Astoria with "read my article",
          where you basically say don't eat Greek food in
          Astoria, doesn't really get us anywhere. To lump every
          restaurant in Astoria into the "not worth it" category
          is unreasonable. You also called people from
          Manhattan, bridge & tunnel people, I thought it was
          the other way around :). The standard you are
          promoting denotes a standard not in use by many others
          on the board. Agreed that everyone is entitled to
          their opinion but, John's question was "where to eat"
          not "where not to eat"? As with Maria's question below
          and the tangent Gary's response sent us off on, whose
          purpose was served by this type of answer. Certainly
          not the people who want to use this board most of whom
          I suspect, would be perfectly happy with the meal they
          could have at any of the restaurants in question.

          1. re: Steve Plotnicki

            Jim's point is that you can find cooking with grease
            in Astoria rather than cuisine from Greece. Even at
            its height, Greek cooking is only good to very good.
            Better to lay low and enjoy other ethnic cuisines
            until the Greeks do bette

            1. re: Allan Evans

              "Even at its height, Greek cooking is only good to very
              good"

              Allan, it's my passionate belief that there are no bad
              (or mediocre) cuisines, only bad (or mediocre) chefs.

              1. re: Jim Leff
                k
                Kosta Stavlas

                Ãéá óáò.Åßìáé Ýëëçíáò.ÈÝëù íá ìïõ ðåéôå ôï ôé ãéíåôå
                åäù ðåñá.

                1. re: Kosta Stavlas

                  Anybody care to translate??

                  1. re: Gary Cheong

                    it`s all greek to me.just kidding, what I think he was trying to say was, when greek men leave greece, they hate leaving their friends behind.

                  2. re: Kosta Stavlas

                    I HEAR yuh!

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      I had wonderful Greek food (Kokoretsi!) in Melbourne
                      Australia in 1988. It was better than the meals eaten
                      in Athens, Piraeus, and Aegina.

              2. re: Steve Plotnicki

                I wasn't "responding to the question of where to eat in
                Astoria with "read my article", I was simply suggesting
                that people read the article. And since I more fully
                flesh out my reasoning behind the degradation of
                Astoria Greek food in the article--and that's the topic
                of this discussion--I thought it pertinent to do so.

                You may think my blanket judgement about Astoria is
                unreasonable, but I'll point out two things: I've lived
                in that nabe for the last 10 years. And though my taste
                may not agree with yours, I do tend to trust it. And
                lots of very informed people agree with me (though that
                doesn't necessarily make my opinion "right",
                necessarily--just less extreme than you paint it)

                "You also called people from Manhattan, bridge & tunnel
                people, I thought it was the other way around "

                yes, that was "a joke" Steve

                "John's question was "where to eat" not "where not to
                eat"? As with Maria's question below and the tangent
                Gary's response sent us off on, whose
                purpose was served by this type of answer"

                It's my site and I'll digress if I want to. And I
                invite everyone else to digress as well. This is
                discussion, not Your Personal Eating Assistant, and
                questions get answered however people see fit.

                As far as my advice re: something POSITIVE to eat in
                Astoria, it'll come in the second part to that article.
                I'm stretching it out 'cause every food writer in town
                cruises these boards and I'd like to keep at least a
                COUPLE of my favorite places virgins for my upcoming
                book. As is, people will see Jackson Diner, Mississippi
                BBQ, Tindo, Charles' Soulfood Kitchen, Karam, Kabab
                Cafe, etc etc in the book and yawn and wonder why I've
                included so many places others found first (they
                didn't...I was the first to write about all of them).

                As I've said several times here, if I made a living
                from this site, I could say "screw it" and throw all my
                treasures out here, regardless of any bigger dogs who
                might go and pee torrents on my fire hydrants. But none
                of the better-heeled chowhound regulars has come
                forward to take out an ad or otherwise help support the
                site. So I have to protect my print career by being a
                bit tight-lipped here. And I hate to be that way; it's
                against all my instincts.

                "Certainly not the people who want to use this board
                most of whom I suspect, would be perfectly happy with
                the meal they could have at any of the restaurants in
                question"

                Idunno, Steve...is it possible you're just ticked off
                that people are contradicting your opinion? You sound
                positively wounded. Don't take it so hard, we ALL have
                strong opinions...and, in any case, nobody's
                disrespected you personally here (though the reverse
                ain't true at this point).

                1. re: Jim Leff
                  s
                  Steve Plotnicki

                  Jim-It's not about people disagreeing with me and I
                  don't think it's fair to try and personalize the
                  debate that way. I see similar arguments of this type
                  on the Wine Spectator Board all the time. Someone
                  posts a question, some well intentioned person posts
                  an answer, and then some "flamer" posts, that the
                  question isn't valid and anyone who would bother
                  answering the question doesn't know anything about
                  wine. All that does is turn people off and I've seen
                  many people who were avid users, leave the WS board
                  and never return. The people who post questions of
                  these types on various boards are entitled to a "fair
                  answer" to their question. Why couldn't Gary's or your
                  response include a recommendation of where to eat.
                  That's the question that was asked not, "should I
                  bother eating in Astoria?". But despite the mulitple
                  posts in this thread, neither of you has recommended a
                  single restaurant. It appears that the purpose of your
                  responses was to divert the conversation away from
                  Maria's original question. Like you said, it's your
                  board and you can be any kind of host you want but
                  asking that you accomodate the people who post here by
                  answering their questions or, allowing others to
                  answer them without criticism, isn't really too much
                  to ask.

                  1. re: Steve Plotnicki

                    OK, I thought I was done but now I find myself jumping
                    to this thread of the message board.

                    I seem to be made out as such a villain here. Steve,
                    why don't you just step back a little, and navigate
                    your way to 6/18 when you first posted a reply to
                    Maria. You recommended Manducati's, Elias, Uncle
                    George and Karyatis. I have no disagreement with your
                    other choices 'cos I've never eaten at those places.
                    We only differ in opinion about Elias (yes, I really
                    disliked my meal there).

                    Now go to re-read my reply on 6/19 - I simply panned
                    the food. SHOW ME where I flamed you. Show me where I
                    made vicious personal attacks against you. Show me
                    where I criticized your post as stupid. Maria deserves
                    to hear both good and bad about Elias, and she can
                    make her choice. My next reply is terse 'cos you went
                    on the offensive saying things to the effect of "don't
                    listen to all this shallow mumbo jumbo". So who's
                    attacking whom ?

                    You keep harping on the fact that I did not mention
                    any other alternatives -- well, Steve, I don't know of
                    any other suggestion. But since when does that
                    disqualify me from posting about Elias (whose food I
                    have experienced recently) ? I only post what I know.

                    What purpose would it serve for me to try to "divert
                    the conversation away from Maria's original question"
                    as you claim ? I keep posting back in response to all
                    your wild assumptions about my (and Jim's) motives.

                    So basically -- you like Elias Corner, and I don't
                    (and feel strongly about it). If you want to post,
                    you should expect disagreement -- and sometimes strong
                    disagreement.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    This whole argument seems to be based on two different
                    impressions of how one should give restaurant
                    advice. When I read a restaurant review (or a chowhound
                    posting) I'm much more interested in knowing what kind
                    of experience the reviewer/poster had at the restaurant
                    in question, than in knowing whether s/he thinks I'll
                    like it.

                    The reviewer's _experience_ is data that I can base my
                    judgement on (in combination with other data like what
                    I know of the reviewer, other people's takes on the
                    restaurant, my own experience if I've been there...);
                    his or her _recommendation_ is a second-guess based on
                    no knowledge of who I am or what my tastes are, and it
                    seems much less useful.

                    So I am happy to know that Gary does not like the food
                    at Elias' corner; I've only eaten there once myself and
                    I had some sort of white fish, possibly a porgy, that
                    was very tender and tasted good. I've eaten once at
                    Zenon and thought the cold appetizers were excellent
                    (including the best taramasalata I've ever had) and the
                    hot appetizers were mostly bland and tough. I've even
                    enjoyed eating moussaka at the infamous Uncle George's.

                    Knowing what Steve thinks I would be "perfectly happy"
                    eating doesn't do me any good.

                    Jeremy

                    1. re: Jeremy Osner
                      s
                      Steve Plotnicki

                      Jeremy-Close but no cigar. If you look at Maria's
                      question, it was clear to me that she didn't have much
                      experience with eating in Astoria. In fact, it appears
                      that she has probably never even been there. When she
                      asked her question, it seemed to me that she was
                      looking for something to do after her trip to the
                      museum. Since that appeared to be the thrust of her
                      question (she's going exploring), I tried to give her
                      three different price ranges of places to eat. Two of
                      those places, Uncle George's and Taygetos, are places
                      that I do not frequent and aren't especially favorites
                      of mine. But they are among the obvious suggestions
                      for someone who wants the "Astoria experience". If the
                      information I gave was not comprehensive enough for a
                      true foodie, she would asked a followup quetion.
                      Obviously she got the information she was looking for
                      because she thanked me but, nested it under Gary's
                      response instead of mine. He then went out of his way
                      to tell her not to thank him for the information that
                      he, didn't give her. At least he was right about
                      something.

              3. Perhaps I'm one of the few who thinks that Telly's is
                overrated, but I do maintain that Christos Hasapo is
                just about the best Greek in Astoria (and hence NYC)
                -- and as a steakhouse can hold its own with the big
                boys.

                Their menu is sparse, which doesn't really hurt them,
                since they do extremely well what they do. Meals
                begin with a platter of meze brought to your table,
                the wait staff is incredible and has the attitude of
                professional staff that beats restaurants which cost
                far more. Good wine selection, subtle decor, great
                dessert table. For anyone who hasn't been, make the
                trip. If you're in the neighborhood, I guarantee
                it'll become a regular haunt.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jon Bonne

                  Speaking of Greek (but not in Astoria), Riva & I tried
                  Molyvos last weekend. Very nice. We were there
                  pre-theater, and I was surprised that it wasn't packed,
                  but pleased that it was pleasantly quiet.

                  Appetizers were wonderful: an assortment of spreads and
                  some wonderful grilled baby octopus. For the main
                  dish, we had a grilled royal dorade, which was
                  splendid. They recommended a good, inexpensive Greek
                  white wine to go with it.

                  My only complaint was that I made the mistake of asking
                  them to filet the fish, and so lost some of the best
                  parts.