Best Greek in LA
My husband is 1/2-Greek (Dad was born and raised) and his family owns their own restaurant in Astoria. I've got to see if I can find the name of it ... I've never eaten there. Anyway, whenever the fam comes to town we grab Greek "fast food" at Papa Cristo's while stocking up on Greek food staples in the little attached market.
When we want to sit down and have a nice relaxing meal we always go to Sofi on third. We've brought large groups, medium groups, and just dined with the two of us and it's always the best service and very delish Greek. My father-in-law says that some of the menu items are more authentic than others ... we've tried just about everything ... but they're all quite good.
On my own, with galfriends, I've been to The Great Greek. I didn't enjoy the food ... the service was slow and the food wasn't what I was used to having at my in-laws, so to me it wasn't authentic. On the other hand, my husband went one night after work with some friends and thought it was okay. I suspect some Greek wine might have helped him come to that conclusion though.;)
Hope this helps ... one of the things we love about LA are the choices for some yum-e greek. We're originally from Dallas and aside from one little place by the Greek Orthodox Church there ... the pickings are slim.
I wrote an article for LA Magazine last fall (Oct, I think?) and went to about six or seven different Greek restaurants in about 15 or days. Exhausting, but someone had to do it. I'm not Greek, but I have been eating Greek food for awhile. I've been eating all kinds of food for awhile...but for what it's worth, here's what I thought:
Sofi on Third Street
Liked the garden more than the food.
Love Chrys Chrys, who owns the place, love that it's so old school. I had a gyro, i think, and a Greek beer. The pastries reminded me of the old women's who baked for months for a Greek festival I used ot go to in Portland. I almost tried the sugar free pastries, but went for high test instead. you order at a counter and take it into a separate room, they deliver it to you. It's cheap. I've never gone for the feast, but it's such a personable place, i bet it's fun.
Petros in Manhattan Beach
Everything the family-owned Greek restaurants aren't. Very trendy, very contemporary. The food was tasty, the crowd good looking. There was this one dish I liked, their version of saganaki. The cheese was coated in sesame seeds and fried (not flambeed tableside) and served with honey and raisins. Delicious. The fish we had was also very fresh, and they had meatballs on special. Tasted authentic, but "new" if you knwo what I mean.
Papadakis in San Pedro
This is a Greek family. The owners hugged me like they've known me forever (we never met before, and as a writer, I was anonymous), they shook my boyfriend's hand. It's loud, it's friendly, but it's a little higher priced than the others. They bring a tray of raw meat to show you how spectacular it is, you order it almost like a steakhouse. They do, however, have taramasolata (spelling...the caviar dip) on the table instead of butter for your bread. The spanikopita was at least an inch thick and tasty. Grilled meats were good. Some ex USC star was in the house, the owners had him stand and he was applauded for like 10 minutes. They love their footballers down there.
Taverna Tony in Malibu
The patio is great, they do the saganaki with a loud "OPA!", you might see a celebrity. To me, they had the best pastitsio out of the bunch.
The Great Greek in the Valley
We had so much fun here. Got the feast and there were only two of us. The roasted baby lamb was my favorite, their dips and pita are great, the waiters dance, the audience gets into it. Fun fun fun. Worth the money, would be fun with a group.
I'm forgetting the other one...
I work near Papa Cristo's and have gone there many times for lunch and once for their Big Fat Greek Dinner. The dinner was festive but I felt that the food was tastier during lunch. There is plenty of food -- huge platters of lamb, potatoes, pita, salad, etc., but I found the meat and potatoes to be bland. Service was friendly and very accomodating. My father has some dietary issues which they were very gracious about, and I noticed that a different table had a slightly different menu as well. The mini wine tasting before dinner starts is sort of fun. They do have a belly dancer, but if you are at all afraid of being forced to dance in front of the restaurant, I wouldn't recommend attending this event. The dancer would not take no for an answer and made many guests join her at the front of the room; it was often awkward and the dancing went on a little too long. Overall, it was a pretty good value and I'm glad I experienced it, but I would only go back for regular meals, especially on a nice day out on their patio.