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Why doesn't LA have any good Greek restaurants??

Can anybody name one good authentic restaurant?

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  1. what about Papa Cristos? excellent gyros.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eatslowly

      I've been very happy with the food at Papa Cristos...esp. the lamb

    2. I kinda know what Theo means (and with a name like Theo, you get instant Greekcred)...as much as I've liked Papa Cristo's (sometimes, though I've gotten some old, cold gyros there a few times) and Mama Voula's, there's nothing to compare to the great Greek places in Chicago and many other places in the Midwest.

      1. Papa Christo's is the closest you are going to find to true Greek in Los Angeles. If you haven't been there, it's worth the trip. Aside from the overall generally good quality prepared foods served there, for the record, they were the first in Los Angeles to stock greek-style yogurt, long before you could find Total at Trader Joe's.

        Here's the link to the webpage, with address and menu: http://www.papacristo.com/

        As to the why, Los Angeles was never heavily settled by Greeks. Over the years in the USA, there has been a much bigger community of European immigrants built up on the East Coast than here in LA. Out on the west coast, our immigrant bases are more predominantly Asian and Mexican/Central/South American than European, although there have been *some* hearty souls from the Continent who've made their mark on Los Angeles over the years.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DanaB

          ...which is the same reason why there's no equivalent to Germantown, Little Italy or the Ironbound in LA, either. Europeans tended toward the Northeast, or else to the Midwest.

          I agree, though, there's no really great Greek places like there are in Chicago. No great Polish places either (there's Polka and Warszawa, both of which are fine, but neither of which is great).

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            There WAS a Little Italy in Los Angeles. It's located where Chinatown is now, and back then Chinatown was located where Union Station is now. The only existing remnants of Little Italy are St. Peter's Italian parish, Eastside Deli and the San Antonio Winery. The community has since dispersed and assimilated since it was not supplimented by newer Italian immigrants.

            Not having a large Greek community in Los Angeles doesn't make it any better or worse than other cities, just different. It's the same reason one can't find any decent Mexican or Thai food in New York. Just different groups, different flavors.

            European immigrants though were instumental in developing the city, such as Isaac Lankershim (Germany), Col. Griffith J. Griffith (Wales) and William Mulholland (Ireland). I'm sure you're familiar with the names.

        2. I agree, the amount of quality greek restraunts are very sparse. Although, the Great Greek in Studio City as wonderful greek food, not to mention one of the best atmospheres. Go in a large party (no built for just one person) and order all of the appetizers. Don't even look at the menu (unless you have allergies/vegeterian). Its all very good. They play greek music with a live band every night. Around 8 o'clock you can get up and dance with the waiters (to a good ol' greek dance) and possibly do a little plate smashing.


          1. Tony's Taverna in Malibu is a decent greek restaurant. I am greek and i find that although there is no great greek food in LA, Tony's has the best combination of food and ambiance.

            5 Replies
            1. re: carln

              I am not Greek and I enjoy the food and atmosphere at Taverna Tony's.

              1. re: SauceSupreme

                I third rec for Traverna Tony's... great lamb, great hummus, and some say that their octopus dish is great.

                1. re: justified

                  What are the differences if any between Greek, Armenian, Arab, Israeli & Persian version of hummus?
                  Can you get a whole roasted fish at Tony's?

                  1. re: bernardo

                    Hummus isn't Persian at all. The first time my family had hummus was when I made it for them. It is generally an Arabic dish, not Persian. :) That said, many Persian restaurants have caught on to the trend that people like hummus, so it is on the menus. I guess it's comparable to Korean restaurants serving sushi.

                    1. re: katkoupai

                      However the history goes, the fact is that the hummus at Traverna Tony's is delicious, same for their garlic spread (whatever that is called). I also like their simple marinara prawn pasta dish.

                      Oh, and another thing, in the past, their Saturdays have been known to have some plate smashing and live music. Call Traverna Tony's to see if this is still .

                      Their outside patio is the romantic, open-garden section of the restaurant and my favorite place. The inside is a little too rustic decor for my taste.

            2. No one has mentioned Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro. They've been there since 1972 and have great food and is a very entertaining place to eat.

              It's been a while since I've been there but we had a great meal about 18 months ago. I remember the sea bass with rosemary being great. They bring a platter of the special cuts of meat avialable that night by the table. Good service.

              They have a show, dancing that is really interactive with all the guests I think nightly.

              301 West 6th Street
              San Pedro, California 90731-3317
              (310) 548-1186

              1. If you go to any of the Greek orthodox churches in town, you'll see there are tons of greeks here - maybe second generation, many from other parts ofthe US.
                Yes Historically, the greeks weren't even the major orthodox group here, more serbs, russians in California.
                Joseph's in Hollywood (yucca and ivar) has some good things. Is papadakis taverna still around in San Pedro? Great greek in sherman oaks is fun - but check out the greek fairs at the churches and you'll get great leads.
                That said, if you're looking for balkan foods and are open-minded, try Sierra in Studio City, try a lebanese place like Carnival in Sherman Oaks, or some of the purer armenian places. Also YESTHEY"RE DIFFERENT but they're similar - check out aroma on overland (bosniak) and metro cafe on washington place (near sepulveda - serb). You might be pleasantly surprized.

                Also Danube on Westwood (bulgarian).

                5 Replies
                1. re: Jerome

                  I haven't been to a completely great Greek restaurant in America. So I don't think
                  LA is an exception.
                  Chicago's greek town is full of mediocre food that doesn't resemble anything in Greece. NYC has a few overpriced places like Milos, which can be fine enough but really i think it is a general problem, once one is out of the Meditteranean

                  1. re: Jerome

                    Isn't Sierra(Serra's) in Studio City Turkish? That has been my understanding, yet try not to confuse the two to a Greek!
                    Also, surprised no one has mentioned Sofi at 8030 W. 3rd Street. I am not a fan of the place, yet to not have been mentioned?! I also think Great Greek in Sherman Oaks is a poor example and would rather eat at Carnival around on Woodman, even though Lebanese, but with heavy menu overlap. Noise and booze make the Great Greek fun, but...

                    1. re: Jerome

                      On Jerome's note about Greek orthodox churches, sometimes these churches have festivals and events, at which one can find homemade Greek food for sale. I remember my dad used to go to one every year, for the food. :)

                      1. re: katkoupai

                        St. Sophia has a big Easter picnic sometimes near the Rose Bowl every year with lots of great Greek food

                        1. re: Ernie

                          Sounds delicious. On another note, I still have to go to the Mediterranean Cafe. ;)

                    2. Not a restaurant but St Anthony's Greek festival is coming up in Sept at the Santa Anita racetrack


                      1. Agreed on the lack of true full-menu Greek places, but if you need a good gyro and you're out in that area, the Firehouse in Reseda makes a great authentic sandwich.

                        And if you want a different take on them (open-faced with fresh green peppers and onions), try Nick's Paradise Cafe in Montebello. Good bak' as well....


                        1. I guess for those of us that are transplants from eleswhere, the usual Mexican and Asian food gets old. I grow up in Chicago where European ethnic communities were represented from one end to another. I miss those little enclaves and what they represent to a community. Being Greek and Italian, food and family are important. I understand as time goes on that our cultures becomes assililated by other nationalities. It still don't change the fact a city the size of LA lacks diversity in those araes. Hell, San Francisco which is smaller then LA, bets our area hands down. Maybe the fact we still don't have a football team says something.

                          There isn't one Greek restaurant mentioned I haven't tried in the 32 years I've lived here. I was hoping someone might have known some restaurant I haven't heard of. I would love to open a real Greek restaurant but your right, we don't have a community to support it. Thanks for the responses.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: theo dog

                            I have to say, I've been to some of the greek places so highly touted in detroit. They're ok. Frankly, I think the Great Greek, or Joseph's, or the old Cafe Piraeus was as good. Is papadakis really that bad?
                            for family and community, the church fairs can provide something. but no, you're not going to find irish bars cheek by jowl here. in fact you won't find them anywhere outside of chicago and boston - not in that concentration. And you won't find hungarian strips outside of cleveland, bridgeport and maybe new brunsick, nj. there was a large norwegian community in san pedro, just like in bay ridge, brooklyn. they're both there more in memory and in a few stores. immigrant havens disappear, move, change. boyle heights isn't jewish anymore, neither is the lower east side of manhattan. lincoln heights isn't italian anymore, neither is echo park, nor "new chinatown". but there are plenty of greeks here. perhaps the best food is still found in homes - which again is why i recommend the cathedral and church fairs. in general this is not a bad idea, witness st casimir's lithuanian roman catholic church and the food attached to it, or even the thai temple and its food fair on the weekend.

                            i wonder if it also might be a matter of regional immigration. i have greek friends whose families are from zakinthos/zante in the ionian islands, from the peleponessos, and more whose families came here straight from anatolia/asia minor after 1923. there are some differences, but perhaps the foods served might be different as well.
                            just thinking.

                            1. re: Jerome

                              Very interesting thoughts Jerome and good observation about the regional differences in Greek cooking. Since one side of my Greek family is from the Asia Minor area, and the other side of my Greek family is from the Peloponnese, I can definitely attest to the major differences in Greek cuisine based on region. Nevertheless, I would say that the differences are not polarizing enough to turn off one Greek-American community to eating the other Greek-American community's food.

                              The simple fact is that most Greek restaurant owners in America don't own Greek restaurants, they own burger joints and diners.

                              As I've stated before, Greek food is not always apealing to the American palette, as it can be very rich and sometimes oiley. Greek food is also VERY labor intensive. It probably takes my mom 2 or 3 hours to make a mousaka, or a tin of baklava, or more or less any other Greek dish. All these factors contribute to the lack of a great, authentic Greek restaurant.

                              Nevertheless, that doesn't mean there are some decent, quasi-Greek restaurants out there that have good tasting food, regardless of its authenticity.

                              1. re: young_chower

                                Have you tried Alexis in Northridge? No dancing waiters or smashing plates but the food is really good, best moussaka I've had IMO.

                                Also I had a very good meal at Yianni's Greek in Claremont about a year ago. On Yale next to the colleges.

                                And I could explain to you why we don't have a football team in LA but the Chow Mods would give me the death penalty.

                          2. papa george's hymart deli on lankersheim ( a bit past the 134) is quite awesome. don't know how authentic it is but it seems like the real deal - great salads (try the 'sue's creation') and gyros...

                            1. We like Le Petit Greek in Larchmont. Great lamb and terrific appetizers (the tarama is delicious). And you don't have to be Greek to be named Theo and enjoy good Greek food!

                              1. A nice little Greek place just opened in the oddest location near LAX but the family running it is Greek and the food seems very fresh and authentic. It's called Aliki's Greek Taverna at 5862 Arbor Vitae St (cross street is Airport Blvd). Call for their hours at (310) 645-9555 since the hours seem to vary. They seem to cater mainly toward serving breakfast for the cheap motel they are attached to but the lunch crowd seems to be growing as well from airport workers and the Century Blvd. offices.

                                It's located on the fringe of a working class Mexican neighborhood which makes me wonder how long they will last but god bless 'em for trying! They seem to still be working out the hours of operation so call ahead but they are worth a try if you are in the area and want something different from one of the only Greek restaurants in a 10 mile radius (other than Daphnes Greek Cafe)

                                Great Souvlaki, gyros and horiatiki. I also like the gigandes which tasted like giant white canellini beans! Cheaper than most of the other greek joints in LA and I think Ive tried them all folks. Give them a shot people before they become another generic mexican place.

                                1. I was very disappointed with the food at Papa Christos, especially the lamb. Just because the place looks totally run down and serves it food off plastic dishes from the local supermarket doesn't mean the food is any good. I also disagree with the "no good European food on the West Coast" argument. This is true for LA but head up to Vancouver. There are incredible Greek restaurants in most every neighborhood, especially Kitsilano near the water.

                                  1. If I am craving a decent gyro, I usually hit up Greek Kabob on Olympic near Bundy. Sure, it's only a lunch-type place but it does the trick. I do believe the people who own it are actual real Greeks.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: LMS1108

                                      Greek Kabob? North or south side of the street? Now that Green Olive has closed, I am looking for a substitute.

                                      1. re: omotosando

                                        I just found Greek Kabob (north side of the street) and wish I hadn't. It was the single worst fast food of this genre that I have ever had. Especially disappointing after the recent closure of the Green Olive (a couple blocks away), which was the best fast food of this genre that I have ever had.

                                        I had something called "Chicken tenders" - they may call this place "Greek Kabob," but they did not have any kabobs. Rather, they had the kind of chicken strips (which they call "tenders") that you would find at a cheap cafeteria or in the frozen food section of the grocer (as opposed to in the meat section of the grocer). And the "tenders" tasted exactly like the kind that you would buy in the freezer case - horrible.

                                        The chicken tenders came with hummus (same horrible industrial taste as the "tenders") and a "salad." The salad consisted of some industrial-hard flavorless tomatoes, cucumbers and iceberg (yes, iceberg) lettuce. No dressing. Instead, on the side was some kind of tasteless yogurty sauce.

                                        Really sad that Green Olive closed and this place is still around. This was the kind of meal that leaves you really depressed afterwards - wishing that you could have had real food for lunch.

                                    2. I like "Ulyssies Voyage" in "The Grove". Although they dont have saganaki(sp?) which is a count against them. Otherwise, good food.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: soundboy

                                        I have been searching for some Detroit style saganaki since I moved here.

                                        I've been to the Le Petit Greek on Larchmont and their saganaki (flaming cheese!) is ok...i think its more traditional.

                                        Detroit style is very tasty and very americanized. Usually served at Coney Island restaurants.

                                      2. has anyone tried PETROS in manhattan beach? i've been wanting to try it.

                                        my greek huisband and i love tony's taverna.....i like to sit on the patio, enjoying a bottle of retsina and a bunch of appetizers, the surly waiters....the food may not be incredible, but it's pretty good, and it's a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon.....

                                        1. Petros in Manhattan Beach is excellent. Very upscale (a bit pricey) but worth it IMHO. Their sea bass with crispy skin is excellent, and the rack of lamb was fabulous. The Greek appetizers were also wonderful. Papadakas in San Pedro is also fun and very good especially if you have a big crowd. Service at Petros can be spotty, but the asmosphere is nice, except the small room can get noisy.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: di4cats

                                            When were you last there? I think they chef they opened with left, and took his recipes with him. It may not be the same place.

                                            1. re: BHAppeal

                                              Are you sure? When did this happen?

                                            2. re: di4cats

                                              I've been to Petros a couple of times within the last few months with my wife, and both times I left underwhelmed by the menu, irritated by the high noise levels within the restaurant, and saddened by how much I paid for the food and service I received. I've definitely had better saganaki in LA, most notably at that place in the LA Farmer's Market. The best saganaki in LA (at least, that I've been able to find) is still no comparison to any corner restaurant in Chicago or Detroit, though.

                                              1. re: di4cats

                                                I have been to Petros twice, and always absolutely enjoyed my food.

                                                First time I went with my Grandparents who are quite tough to impress foodies, especially for dragging them down to my humble South Bay, and they loved the food. We had a few miscues with the wine, but other than that I think everything was great. Next time, went with a group of social friends for dinner and lots of wine, I know wine could make any meal seem delicious, but I really thought it tasted even better than before, can't wait to go again.

                                                If you can pay the price, and make the trip, I certainly recommend it for good Greek around LA

                                                  1. re: bernardo

                                                    I wanted to say it was a pork plate from memory, but looking back at the menu, it must have been the Feta Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb, anyone confirm or deny menu changes since the opening? Apps usually included a selection of Tzatziki and some other dip. Desserts have included the Greek Yogurt, great honey, and the Bomba
                                                    - Dome of chocolate mousse with merengue center, rice krispy and praline crust with vanilla ice cream.

                                              2. Just went back to Ulyssies Voyage last night, they do have Saganaki! I didn't have it though.