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Sep 14, 2007 10:41 AM

Greek in Astoria?

I'm looking for the best Greek in Queens. I'm planning an adventure for 4 Manhattanites and could use some help! Thanks.

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  1. my bf used to live in Astoria and we went to at least a dozen of Greek restaurants but i don't remember liking any. I just liked drinking frappe at one of many Greek cafe in Astoria.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Monica

      you didn't like a single greek restaurant in astoria-- that seems somewhat absurd. do you maybe not like greek food?

      1. re: jdream

        What is so absurd? I LOVE Greek food. I find it the greatest cuisine of all. I LIVE Greek Food. Astoria (or Bayside, for that matter) has nothing that resembles Greek food at all. Unless the next fly-by-night place just opened up offering something that you can specifically suggest as fit for human consumption. Greek dishes only, please. "Classic" or "new" Greek cuisine. Anything other than the likes of Stamatis, S'Agapo, Telly's, Agnandi, Aliada, Zenon, Christos, Kyklades, Elias, Dimitris or any others of that ilk.

        Until then, I'll sip a frappe at any of the many cafe spots around Astoria, dreaming of a day when someone will offer something in Astoria that can truly be called Greek, and lamenting the loss of ONERA.

        1. re: Gastronomos

          what is so absurd is that astoria is revered by greeks and non-greeks alike as a pretty great mecca of greek food outside of greece. where do you satisfy your greek cravings?

          Just out of curiousity what is so un-Greek about these places? a friend of mine from Rhodes who spent the first 30+ years of his life there finds himself very much sated in Astoria and also finds it rather resembling food he grew up eating... in greece.

          1. re: jdream

            Jim Leff wrote a long post on why Greek food in Astoria declined.

            Still, I do like Stamatis Broadway and Zenon.

            1. re: jdream

              I have many friends and family that adore Astoria for the Greek food establishments. They make the drive to Astoria for a taverna stop each about twice a year, max. They would probably go more often, as they shop at Titan and Mediterranean regularly, but go back home to eat, usually. They all rave about how they ate out in Astoria at the establishment of their liking, namely Stamatis, Zenon, Kyklathes and Agnandi. When I ask them about specifics I get the same answer form all of them, "If you want GOOD Greek food, you have to eat at home (or moms)"

              That is what I do. I cook Greek at home. Or I eat at moms. (or my other relatives that are good cooks)(hey, not ALL Greeks are good cooks ;)

              Hey, I know that the tavernas in Greece, the majority, at least, suck. That is not a secret among Greeks, tourists or even on these boards. Most Greeks know this fact. But, everyone has a place that they can go to find the dish or two that they can enjoy. I know of a place just outside of Athens that makes the best fry bread stuffed with feta I've had. I order nothing else on the menu except a soft drink. Likewise on the Island of Paros I enjoy a rotisserie chicken cooked over charcoal that is superb with the crappy frozen french fries he serves with them. I order it to go and sit at the beach with a few beers. And a place that expertly grills whole fish to order. I know the owner and when I see his offerings to the tourists on ice, I ask, "What do you have for ME?" That is when he pulls out from under the counter the "catch of the day". Or even a specialty of the house "gouna" a lightly fresh smoked (daily) mackerel, grilled with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. The tourists are ordering Crab, Lobster and frozen fish off the menu. None of these places offer an apology. It's BUSINESS.

              A note about my mentions above is that I didn't mention any "home cooked dishes", like the traditional Greek cooking found in homes. It isn't prepared with the loving care that goes into home cooking. All corners are cut, prices raised and the customer forsaken.

              The post from Jim Leff , quoted by link below by Brian S, stated that the good cooks at all these Astoria joints are gone. These businesses are not there because the owner likes people or food, they are there to make a living. The food clearly shows that.

              Should the likes of Taygetos (sp?) come to Astoria again, I will be the first in line. As a regular.

              Until then I ask, What's on the menu today? Anything else? No? Thanks, but, no.

              1. re: jdream

                Just had dinner at Stamatis with family.
                The dinner for four consisted of:

                Bread, poor quality, sliced and toasted (why?) and drizzled with vegatable oil.

                Horiatiki Salad. Romaine lettuce, red onion, cucumber, random variety of black olives and ice cold semi green and hard tomato wedges topped with diner quality crumbled feta.
                I assume the empty plates (save for the napkin and knife/fork) served at the table had just come out of the dishwasher as they were burning hot. Not what one would hope to eat salad from.
                Octopus. Soft, not chewy. Bland except that the broiler reheating left an unpalatable bitterness to the two miniscule tentacles drizzled with vinegar and vegetable oil. (this one also left an unpalatable price tag of $16).
                Pastitsio. Sugary sweet. Off tasting. Served with 'lemon' roasted potatoes?
                Papoutsakia. The eggplant was practically non-existent, but good, if not exactly what papoutsakia tradiationally/authentically/classically should be. The 'meat sauce' and crema were the same sugary sweet as the pastitsio. Served with 'lemon' roasted potatoes?
                Gemista. Over cooked to a fault, but reminiscent of a flavor that reminded me of what they should (have) taste(d) like. Served with 'lemon' roasted potatoes?
                Fricassee. Overly lemony with a distinct artificial lemon flavor. Meat muddy tasting and greens boiled to a "melt in your mouth" mush. Easily eaten like baby food with a spoon.
                Carafe of red wine. Thin, watery, boring house wine.

                I'm sure that my company was as enjoyable as can be, if the fare at Stamatis left me with an upset stomach. And hungry for Real Greek Food.

                P.S. I noticed that the new location across the street has an ice display of whole fish. The smell of semi-fresh whole fish on ice in the front was a bit of a turn off but that smell went away when you entered the dining room. (Some of the whole fish was certainly fresh a week ago...) Steam tables are a huge turnoff, but the stacked trays prevent any viewing of the offerings. The view of already broiled and/or deep fried foods like the broiled mini flounder fillets in a 'sauce' of oil (vegetable?) lemon juice on the steam table and deep fried small fish or whatever (I didn't even bother asking, deep fried foods sitting there on a steam table for a while isn't what I call Greek food). The spaghetti looked nicely sauced, if a bit dry, on the steam table. I guess it's already hot and ready to scoop and serve.
                It seems that Stamatis is trying to lure away the patrons of Tavernas in the area, like Kyklades, that offer only "cooked to order" foods. Basically simply deep fried or broiled/grilled plain stuff, like whole fish and other diner like food stuff. I wish Stamatis well. Clearly the older crowd in the place is fond of his preparations. It must be nostalgic to them, or even high class to dine in a place like this, considering some remote villages in Greece. I must have been one of the youngest people seated in the dining room. (and I ain't THAT young ;)

                1. re: Gastronomos

                  i agree with gastronomos' take on the overall quality of greek fare in astoria. i've been to just about all the places there over the last 3 years and almost always finish the meals thinking that this is just not well prepared or lovingingly prepared food. i admittedly don't know greek food that well (although i do remember the roadside tavernas in greece being awful), but i know what carefully and attentively prepared food tastes like, and astoria's greek places just don't offer it, in my opinion.

                  however, i've found two exceptions to this sad rule. i loved philoxenia, which sadly closed, but is about to reopen on 34th ave between 32nd and 33rd street, and i really like bz grill. i'm eagerly awaiting philoxenia's return in the next few weeks and bz grill has always impressed me with the personal care that goes into their food preparation, eventhough they only serve basic, grilled meat dishes. hopefully, the new philoxenia will be like the old one, but in the restaurant biz, such predictions are iffy, at best. let's hope.

                  1. re: joekarten

                    BZ Grill......very blah no real taste

          1. re: chundi

            Tavernas Tyclades (sp?) or Agnanti. I am greek, have lived in Astoria and have brought non-Greek out of towners and everyone loved everything. These places are heavy on the seafood. For 4 people be sure to remember that greek people eat family style. The prices at these places are very reasonable. Order a big salad a few dips and sides and a meat and fish dish or two. Everyone shares, you can try new things and it is super yummy. Get the grilled octopus!

            1. re: edbk

              I'm definitely looking for a place where we can get some fresh grilled fish, amazing sides and some apps to share for the table. Thanks for the rec!

              1. re: skgchow

                Agnanti definitely. Skip Elisa Corner, and Kyclades is only good for fish, its apps and meats are weak.

                1. re: Astoria Lurker

                  I used to like Agnanti very much, but my last three visits were disappointing. On the other hand Taverna Kyclades has been excellent always. Great food.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Aliada, on Broadway and 30th street. Get the meze, like a 20 course tapas tasting. Some are good, some are great and some are average, but its a lot of fun (and cheap).

              8 Replies
              1. re: chefboyardee

                I noticed the other day that Zenon offers something similar for $17.95/pp.

                1. re: chefboyardee

                  I second Aliada. I also really enjoyed the meatballs (I forget what they're called, kofte-something... and the amazing potatoes in herbed butter).

                  1. re: StrawbrryF

                    I had a really good salad from Aliada this weekend with octopus, roasted red peppers, potatoes and then a whole bunch of veggies. My boyfriend had the keftedes, which I didn't taste but he really enjoyed.

                    I've also had some really good meals at Telly's and my friend from Rhodes loves going to Opa.

                    I understand that the food might be perfect and that there might have been a decline. I think that it would be misleading to say that there is no good Greek food in Astoria. I really believe that there are many many people that would still be quite satisfied by what there is out there.

                    1. re: jdream

                      I personally think that anyone who compares home cooking to a restaurant is'nt fit to place criticism here to begin with.

                      The food in Astoria is the best Greek you will get in this city.. perhaps with the exception of one or two gems in Manhattan.. which by the way lack in their authenticity as they climb the quality ladder... go figure.

                      Come back down to earth, and enjoy Astoria greek for what it is while youre here.

                      1. re: HaveTasteWillTravel32

                        Jim Leff would disagree with you completely and whole heartedly about the home cooking/restaurant comparison. That I am certain of. Heck, I disagree with you simply because these places make the claim that what they are serving is home style cooking. It doesn't resemble restaurant food. So it must be a cut rate version of home cooking. Gastronomos seems to have taken an extreme point of view above. Perhaps he's actually seen something out there that might be better than what we have here in Astoria. I may not agree completely with Gastronomos, but he isn't that far off either. Though, if your willing to compromise, as I am most of the time, (hell, you HAVE to around here) you can get something to eat at Stamatis or Taverna Kyklades or any one of your favorite spots. Just do like I do. Don't expect hyperdeliciousness, just a good, solid meal for a reasonable price.

                        FWIW, I happen to like the lamb chops at Taverna Kyklades. Not the best I've had, but they are the cheapest I've seen around Astoria. And cheap sells over good every time. Stamatis makes a really good Imam. Pricier perhaps than it should be for the portion, but still better than other places I've had it in. I'll compromise and find SOMETHING. As I am sure you do as well. Not everything is expected to be the chefs specialty, but SOMETHING must be good. No? If I see on the steam table that, for example, the okra is kind of sorry looking, like it’s been there since yesterday (like it did last month on my last visit to Stamatis), I order something else. I won’t set myself up for a bad meal by ordering the okra but instead I found the Mousaka looking like it might be fresh, or at least fresher looking than the okra. Although I would have preferred okra over mousaka I made a compromise and ordered the mousaka. Mousaka is a tasty dish and Stamati does an average job of filling my belly with it. It’s a back up plan, a compromise, a dish that I order, like pastichio, when there isn’t anything fresh looking on the display. I make do with their limitations and move on. Hell, I am criticized constantly for my love of Trattoria L'Incontro. I like it. That’s all that matters to me. Never tasted a single morsel in there that wasn’t very delicious.

                      2. re: jdream

                        "I really believe that there are many many people that would still be quite satisfied by what there is out there."

                        Obviously. These places are busy every day and night.
                        So is McDonalds and Wendy's.

                        1. re: Gastronomos

                          Come on, are you really comparing Astoria Greek restaurants to fast food...

                          1. re: jdream

                            I believe, especially since my last post was deleted, that NatS above sums it up nicely.

                  2. We're also looking for the best Greek in Astoria. We have been to Mezo and Taverna Kyclades (on Ditmars). We shop at the market near the Greek pastry shop which we pass when heading to Ditmars. In Manhattan we enjoy Pylos. I did not care for the overpriced, ambience over food restaurants like Avra.

                    What restaurant in Astoria should we try next?

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      try the recently re-opened philoxenia. absolutely fantastic. on 34th ave btween 32 and 33.

                      1. re: joekarten

                        thanks, joekarten. I will report back after we try it.

                        1. re: joekarten

                          i disagree. i wrote my review (its long!) on it on this page :


                          like i said there, ill give it another shot. mb if i dont expect too much it will be decent....

                          1. re: helen19

                            thanks helen19. If not philoxenia where should we try next? Or should we just stick to Kyclades?

                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                              come on, give philoxenia a try and report back.....

                          2. re: joekarten

                            You're totally right. I was really really happy with my experience there as I noted below.