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Greek Eats in L.A.?

If I get taken to one more "amazing" Greek place by well-meaning friends only to find that Greek is defined mostly by the presence of hummus and pita on the menu, I will lose my mind. Not looking for anything fancy, but a nice moussaka and a little retsina would really warm my Hellenic heart. All suggestions welcomed!

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  1. papa christo's in the mid-city area. its at pico and normandy-ish.

    1. Alexis Greek Cafe in Northridge (Tampa & Nordhoff) has excellent moussaka.

      1 Reply
      1. re: markn

        I second Alexis.. I don't know how "truly Greek" it is, not being greek, but the greek dishes are the yummiest I've had. Alexis himself is greek. Plus, Fatima (hs winfe and a really wonderful lady!) does some portugese dishes and they have an interesting wine list. her desserts are wonderous.

      2. If you're willing to drive down to the South Bay, dinner at Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro is always a fun and memorable experience. It's a great time to go there, too, if you're a USC fan, as the owner, John Papadakis, is a former Trojan football player and legend, and his sons Taso and Petros are also former USC football players.

        http://www.papadakistaverna.com/

        You can check out the menu at their website. And yes, mousaka is listed on the dinner menu with soup and salad for $22.95 or a la carte for $18.95.

        1. By far, my favorite Greek place is Petros in Manhattan Beach. It is gourmet Greek with the highest quality of ingredients--the feta and olive oil they use is exceptional. This is not your run of the mill Greek restaurant. Each course is beautifully prepared and they offer specialties that I haven't seen in other places. My family is Greek and we've had meals there that we haven't had anywhere else, including Greektown in Chicago. Make sure to get the loukomades for dessert--you will not be disappointed. They have a fantastic pasta dish with fat spaghetti, lamb and manouri cheese and their moussaka is terrific, too.

          Tony Taverna's in Malibu is above average, but nothing compared to Petros.
          If you want down and dirty, Papa Christo's is good, especially if you want to buy some Greek specialties to take home.

          Sofi's in West Hollywood is hit or miss. The same for Le Petite Greek in Larchmont Village.

          Take the drive to Petros. It's worth it!

          1. Petros is great and reminds me of the upscale places in the Kolonaki district of Athens.

            1. Tony's in Malibu has a lobster dish to die for. Not on the menu. Ask for it.

              1. My family feels the same way. My godmother (nona) went to Petros and said it was above average, but then again the average Greek restaurant in LA is not really acceptable for Greek-Americans like myself who have Greek homecooking from parents and grandmothers several times a week.

                As my mom says, "Pyo kala na fahmeh spo spitiaki mas"

                (Translation: better to eat at our house)

                6 Replies
                1. re: young_chower

                  Right. So when are you going to open a restaurant then?

                  1. re: Ernie

                    I promise you if I ever become wealthy opening a Greek restaurant will be on the top of my to-do list. Not just a restaurant but also a true gyro stand. Hopefully one day...

                    Also, allow me to say that when I complain about the Greek restaurants in LA, I am complaining about their authenticity. I am NOT complaining about their tastiness. I do believe that many of the "usual suspects" for Greek restaurants (even Daphnies) in the LA area serve very tasty dishes. However, they don't "do it right" for my specific, perhaps rigid taste buds. I can imagine that many of the ethnic restaurants I love are looked down upon by their respective ethnic-Americans who grew up with the real thing. Does that make less tasty for me? No. But I nevertheless like to know what is authentic and what is not, just for the records.

                    1. re: young_chower

                      I'm also Greek-American and I have to agree. I can find the occasional tasty gyro sandwich or plate at the Firehouse in Reseda (on Reseda Blvd, by the park), Pozi's in Tarzana and Le Petit Greek in Larchmont, but I have to make my own food for everything else. It's doubly a drag because I'm so picky about greek food that I don't even like most other greek families' foods. I guess that's what happpens when you have a restauranteur/caterer for a parent...

                      1. re: esculent

                        I'm also Greek-American, and the only thing that comes close to Grandma's cooking (and Grandma was a little Greek woman in a black dress who cooked 14 hours a day) is Papa Christo's. Not that it really comes close, more like closest. Methinks it's hard to make up for the extra effort a relative makes to make things perfect, compared with something you've got to make two pans of and get out the door.

                        But yeah, nothing kills me more than those places... what's that place on Ventura in Sherman Oaks? Nice people, but yuck.

                  2. re: young_chower

                    young chower, I was wondering if you've ever been to Papa Christo's and if so, what do you think of the place?

                    1. re: Tmblweed

                      I have been there on a few different occasions. Once I got the gyro, which was pretty good for a US gyro, but not that great when compared to the stuff in Greece. Still tasty though.

                      I have also had some of there other stuff when I was much younger on days after church next door.

                      Truth be told though, my parents (who grew up in Greece) have been there many more times, and have been to most of the Greek restaurants in LA at least once, and they think its OK in terms of authenticity and taste. Again though, not any where close to home cooking.

                      One note: The last time I was there was about a year and a half ago in the store. I looked at all the Greek imports, and was shocked at the prices ol' Papa Christ was charging. $20 for a jar of Attiki brand honey, which mind you in Greece is the generic supermarket honey? That's just absurd. You can buy Greek feta (from sheep's milk) at many places, and now even at Trader Joes. So the import shop is totally not worth it. Period.

                  3. Being from Chicago, I miss Greek-town terribly! Papa Christos is good for inexpensive basics plus the grocery (C&K Imports) next door is great to pick up feta, taramosalata, olive oil, etc. Everywhere else seems overpriced. That being said,here are the ones in LA that I'm familiar with: Sofi on 3d and Ulysses Voyage in the Farmers Market/Grove.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cinzia

                      I love Ulysses!

                    2. So I heeded many of your recommendations and headed, with a group of nine, to Petro's for dinner this past weekend. While I can say that the restaurant was lovely and the staff fantastic and attentive, the food... maybe not so much. The keftedes were salty beyond belief, chicken and shrimp overdone, many of the entrees seemed overpriced ($22 for a souvlaki plate of four shrimp and four chunks of chicken?!?!). And of all the sins for a Greek to commit, both orders of saganaki to come to our table had cooled to the point where the cheese had to be hacked apart. Somewhere in the Great Beyond, my Yaya was laughing at me...

                      I've asked my dad to bring out a bunch of Greek grocery staples from Chicago for the holidays and am just going to have to see if I can't repliacte Yaya's recipes.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: cpanagakis

                        As I was reading your post with the yourla tv show on in the background, they did a segment on Petro's Restaurant with the owner Petros Benekos and the grub cooked by mom and auntie sure LOOKED good! I'd send him a note if I had had your experience.

                        www.petrosrestaurant.com

                        1. re: sel

                          I'm not Greek, but I've sure had better Greek food in LA than at Petros (Papadakis in San Pedro is better, for example). My experience was that each dish looked better than it tasted, and my friend and I were all set to fall in love with the place. We made a dinner out of three or four appetizers, and not one was anything I'd order again. FWIW, Ulysses and Sofi both disappointed each time I've given them a try.

                          1. re: CynD

                            I was also underwhelmed by Petros. All the appetizers were just a little off. The lamb pasta was pretty good, though. The best thing we had was the doughnut dessert.

                      2. Delphi in Westwood is family run, and excellent.

                        1. I also like Delphi (though I wouldn't know how authentic it is). I might like their appetizers even better than their entrees. I have a friend that used to go get food and retsina there whenever he needed to get away from fighting with his wife (they don't fight so much anymore, so that's good!).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: longtimehere

                            I third Delphi... I went there a week ago because it was the only place in that block that had an open table. It was a pleasant surprise. The taramasalata (red caviar dip) was excellent, as good as the taramasalata at Tony Taverna, where I first got hooked on it, and at Papa Christo's. I had the large cambo plate that had a little of everything and the best dish was the moussaka. The rest of it was phyllo heavy and not very memorable. I have no idea on the authenticity but I can say the taramasalata and moussaka were delicious. The service was VERY friendly.

                          2. Petros is probably the closest thing to what you are looking for. But it does not compare to a place like Kokkari in SF. It's decent and the quality is definitely a lot higher than the quasi-greek places that put greek food to shame. Gone to Petros about half a dozen times and would say that it has definitely improved on both food and service. But it will never be close to home cooking that you are used to. Good friends of mine are greek and I have been spoiled by the difference. Good luck!

                            1. It ain't easy been Greek.

                              Its the hardest thing in the world to know how moussaka and pastitsio and gyro SHOULD taste like and to live in L.A. where it's nearly impossible to find somewhere that serves anything close to that.

                              I went to Petros about a month after it opened and found that it was a disappointment. I understand what it's like opening a restaurant, so its possible I was there on an off-day when the kitchen wasn't running at 100%. I would happily give it a second chance, but I rarely get to the South Bay.

                              The food was nouvelle Greek, which is tricky to pull off. I ordered the Spanakorizo, which is traditionally a rice dish with sauteed spinach. It came to our table and looked like a spinach-rice soup or risotto. I would have overlooked the lack of authenticity had it tasted good, but it was flavorless and had an odd texture.

                              I much prefer Ulysses Voyage (even though Odysseus is the Greek name) for fresh Greek fare. Love going with a big group on a Friday or Saturday night and getting a few bottles of wine and singing along with the live bouzouki players!

                              Papa Christos is great for gyros and roasted potatoes, and staple ingredients for a Greek kitchen. They also offer a great family-style dinner on Thursday nights which is a quite kitchy, with a belly dancer and piped-in bouzouki music, but good food and fun atmosphere.

                              Tony's in the Malibu Country Mart has great appetizers, but I've found their entrees generally lack a good balance of flavor and are often overpriced for the quantity and quality.

                              1. aliki's near LAX has aspirations regarding being a truly authentic greek taverna. the owner loves his home recipe. i haven't been yet but i've heard mixed things. i know that he's planning on doing some great things + already brings fresh, not frozen, fish in from greece with some regularity, for example.