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Greek?

Hi Friends - I'm back with another request. We're up to 37 restaurants since moving here in September, and enjoyed most of them, with your help. Now, my wife and I are in the mood for Greek food. I can tell you that in most of the cities we've lived in or visited (including the "famous" Greektown in Detroit), I have not yet found great, authentic Greek food. Either they are pan-Mediterranean, or mediocre, common Greek (spanikopita, etc.). Please tell me, you have a great Greek restaurant or two in Boston. Thanks.

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  1. Greater Boston is short on great Greek food. There are worthy casual places (The Greek Isles, Greek Corner), diners (Steve's, A Grecian Yearning), places with a handful of Greek dishes (Vlora), New American places that occasionally show some Greek influences (Kouzina, Ariadne), but since the closing of Meze Estiatorio (a place I loved), none that I or my first-generation Greek-American friend would call an excellent fine-dining Greek restaurant.

    I'm still wondering if Dionysos will ever return: last I looked, the owners of the Howard Johnson hotel it was located in on Memorial Drive were reflagging it with another hotel brand, and renovating the entire premises.

    1. The closest I can think of to great is Farm Grill in Newton, but the place has little atmosphere, so it's not a great restaurant to go for a leisurely dinner.

      3 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        Thanks anyway! I really do not understand why I have such difficulty finding a great Greek dining experience. Where are the Greek restauranteurs?

        1. re: rockpile

          Meze was a great place in a tough location in Charlestown, and probably too large for its own good. Perhaps the bigger problem is a not large-enough local community of Greek ex-pats or Greek-Americans.

          St. John the Baptist in the South End does regular community buffets in association with various festivals (I've attended a few of these: they're casual affairs with quite delicious home cooking) as do other Greek Orthodox churches in Greater Boston (there's one near Winter Hill in Somerville I've attended several times over the years). Perhaps attending one of those might get you a better line on the Greek restaurant scene here. If you learn anything, please report back!

          1. re: rockpile

            The great Greek restauranteurs opened diners and Greek pizza places. Probably because Greek food didn't sell back in the day. I'd love to find great Greek around here, but my choice, Greek Corner, is just okay. Fine when you need your greek itch scratched, but not a destination really.

            I also like some of the Greek festivals that happen in the summer. People invariably post about them, so keep your eyes open.

            -----
            Greek Corner Restaurant
            2366 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

        2. The Agean located on Arsenal st in Watertown is a very good Greek restaurant. I have been there once and really enjoyed it. My girlfriend and I both started of with a Greek salad that was very tasty, I had the rack of lamb that was perfectly cooked and delicious, it came with rice that had lamb gravy, also very good. She had shrimp and scallop skewers, fresh and delicious. I am new to Greek food (probably because there aren’t too many Greek places in Boston), so im not sure if it is authentic or not but here is there website, you can be the judge http://www.aegeanrestaurants.com/inde...

          2 Replies
          1. re: danyboy

            I like the Aegean from a comfort food point of view, but it's more of a Greek-American restaurant than anything.

            MC brings up a terrific point. Some of the best Greek food can be found at various church festivals in the area, including the one at the Taxiarchae-Archangels Greek Orthodox Church in East Watertown (on Bigelow Avenue, the same road that Donohue's is on). Other than that, well, it pays to have Greek friends with parents who are good cooks!

            1. re: danyboy

              Food at the Aegean is mostly HORRIBLE. The food is not particularly Greek, and not really very good either. Fish is always way overooked, as often is the meat; pretty much everything is greasy. It does not even smell good when you walk in the door.

              There are few places in Boston that evoke a stronger negative reaction in me then this place. They can't even do decent avgolemono soup.

              1. re: Taralli

                Second Ithaki in Ipswich. It is a little pricy, but the food is great, the service is great and I haven't been able to find anything like it in Boston.

              2. Fram Grill in Newton is one of the better places but not super great. There is a greek family owned little place in Wellesley that has some decent greek food like souvlaki, an excellent Greek salad, fried zucchini etc. Open only for lunch- Maugus (Washington Street). There is a new place that I have not been at the airport in Norwood called Taso's Euro Cafe. Ithaki in Ipswich is more upscale but quite a hike from Boston. The Greek festivals in the spring-summer are good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: emilief

                  I think Maugus is open for dinner Friday nights and has entertainment (live music).

                2. Downtown Lowell has two solid Greek Restaurants, Athenian Corner and Olympia, both on Market Street.

                  1. I haven't been there but this recent review in the Globe makes Taso's look promising www.boston.com/ae/food/restaurants/ar... .

                    Also, many people on this board rave about Zalek's in Wakefield.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Velda Mae

                      I've been to Taso's a couple of times. The food is mostly very good, though I think I still give the edge to Farm Grill.

                      And I love Zaleks, but it's not really a true Greek restaurant (and it's more of a takeout place). The Greek dishes are excellent there, though, as are the sandwiches and the seafood.

                    2. As first generation Greek-- I can tell you-- that the American Gyro-- what I call it-- closest thing has been Kouzina--- but for true Greek food-- the kind my parents will approve of--
                      Ithaki-- in Ipswich-- yes I know -- scream -- I'm telling you to go way north-- but it is worth it-- the grilled fish is served perfectly-- my parents visit from NY every Palm Sunday and that is the only place they will go-- my father orders a special cheese appetizer-- that he swears this restaurant is the only one in the USA that does it right-- takes him back to being a little boy in Greece--- ( I purposely can't remember the name-- because I only order the grilled octopus appetizer)
                      I also agree that Watertown has a strong Greek presence, parts of Belmont too-- if you are looking to take food home and heat up-- try Sophias Market in Belmont--
                      Good luck

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Salbert

                        I'll second Ithaki! Have had several great meals there. The lamb is always good, grape leaves (sorry can't remember the proper name, Dolm.....?) are great. A very tasty moussaka. Yes, it's a trek from Boston, but one that is worth it.

                        1. re: jjbourgeois

                          Thanks for the mentioning "Ithaki". Since I'm new to the area - how far is Ipswich from Boston? I don't mind driving any distance, if the destination is for great food. I also heard that there is supposed to be a great clam shack there. Do you know anything about that?

                      2. Ipswich is about 50 minutes from Boston--- as for the Clam Shack--oh yeah-- welcome to the North Shore--- Long Debate between Woodmans and Clam Box--- My favorite is Woodmans--- full belly clams in an amazing breading--- Clam Box is good too-- you need to try them both -- people have their preferences-- I like the set up at Woodmasn better too.
                        Good luck

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Salbert

                          Thanks - I think I might wait for nicer weather, but I will definitely be going to Ipswich! Are these clam shacks open all year? Anything else to do in Ipswich besides eat?

                        2. They are open all year--- crazy right!?! There is "antiquing" and Crane's Beach is there-- beautiful low key beach-- not OK for the winter (even to walk) but nice in the summer-- there is a wonderful - and expensive inn there-- I am blanking on the name.
                          Enjoy the clams!

                          1. X&O Restaurant on Route 138 in Stoughton has really good Greek food even though you wouldn't think so at first glance at the location and decor. Portions are huge, prices are low.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: cookiezim

                              Another one to check out! If you didn't see my other posts - I'm new to Boston - how far is Stoughton?

                              1. re: rockpile

                                Without traffic, you can get from the O'Neill Tunnel in downtown Boston to Stoughton in about 25 minutes. It's about 7 or 8 miles south on Route 138 from the exit off of Route 93/128.

                                1. re: rockpile

                                  Or if you take back roads through Jamaica Plain and Mattapan (Morton Street to Blue Hill Ave which turns into 138) it's a straight shot and takes about 35 minutes.

                                  1. re: cookiezim

                                    Right. That's a good way to go during periods of high traffic. I've gone that way to Braintree, Randolph, Stoughton, and Canton many times during rush hour. One note, though; get a good map (or use a GPS), as it can be a bit confusing going that way if you are unfamiliar with the area (signage isn't all that great in some areas).

                                    1. re: hiddenboston

                                      That's a good suggestion! There is a fair amount of lane switching required when Blue Hill Ave changes to Route 138! Once you get past there, it's a straight shot.

                                      1. re: cookiezim

                                        Thank you and Thank G-d for my Garmin GPS system. Without it, in Boston, it would be a nightmare!

                              2. Hate to be a snob, but as someone who lived in Chicago and enjoyed the multiple quality offerings from "Greektown"--Courtyards of Plaka, Greek Isles, et al, tempted to answer "None of the above." However, X & O in Stoughton, Aegean in Framingham and Farm Grille in Newton are all passable, and even "good."

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: ShelT54

                                  Meaning - Boston doesn't really have the kind of Greek restaurant that I am looking for. Thanks, anyway!

                                  1. re: rockpile

                                    Yeah, it's funny - back in the '70s when foodieism was just catching on, Greek restaurants were about the first ethnic cuisine (beyond Americanized versions of Italian and Chinese) to hit the Boston scene and there were lots of them, some quite good. Then along came Indian, then Thai, and all the others, and now there's no decent Greek place left. Go figure...

                                2. Try Desfina in East Cambridge at 202 East Third st, It's a bit of a dive, but they have the flaming cheese - Saganaki OPA! - that I think one of the repliers is referring to. I had a great dish they call Shrimp DEsfina that had perfectly sauted shrimp with Feta &garlic over rice with scallions & tomatoes. Theire lamb kabobs were very good too!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jfung77

                                    They also have excellent grilled octopus.

                                    1. re: foodscience

                                      I have to say that the absolute best grilled octopus I have ever had is the "fork tender grilled octopus" at Vlora near Copley. The chef there is Albanian, not Greek, but the octopus is sublime. I only wish it came in an entree portion.

                                      That said, I fully agree that, despite the number of Greek-Americans here in the Boston metro area, the pickings for good Greek food are pretty slim.

                                  2. This Greek-American's quick take on Boston Greek dining:

                                    Greek Corner (North Cambridge): so-so
                                    GreekCorner (Harvard Square): sucks
                                    Desfina: sucks
                                    Aegean: sucks
                                    Steve's: so-so
                                    various church festivals: collectively suck except for some pastries (it doesn't pay to have parents who cook at these things if all they turn out is burned souvlaki and leaden moussaka)
                                    "Mediterranean" places: all suck
                                    Ithaki: rocks hard - go there now (commuter rail stops a couple of blocks away)
                                    South Shore places: who really cares ...

                                    So there you have it. Learn to cook Greek yourself. And if you open a Greek restaurant, let me know. Or just go to one of the nice Turkish places (although most of those have closed too), they have similar stuff anyhow.

                                    :D

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: jpramas

                                      Several of us CHers really enjoy the Arlington & Watertown church festivals every year, dining on site family style and often leaving laden with savory and sweet items. Sure, many of us are capable of cooking Greek & Turkish at home, but it's fun to get together for these events.

                                      1. re: Taralli

                                        Sure, I've been to dozens of the festivals in various towns in and around Boston, and worked the one in my hometown about 10 times. My critique of the food takes nothing away from the fun of some of them (though not all).

                                      2. re: jpramas

                                        What do you recommend to order or to avoid at Greek Corner (North Cambridge) and Steve's.

                                        And any thoughts on Farm Grille in Newton?

                                        1. re: tmab

                                          The appetizer platter and the baked shrimp dish are good choices at Greek Corner (North Cambridge). The taramosalata appetizer, avgolemeno soup, fish dishes and roast potatoes stood out at Steve's. I should say that consistency counts a lot for me, and that when I go to a Greek restaurant I expect more authenticity the more upscale I go. That's why I'm down on Aegean, for example. They do what I call "suburban fancy" - where they prettify the dining room and table settings, hire sleeker waitstaff, jack up the prices, and then keep the food at about diner level. Whereas Greek Corner and Steve's are what they are. Not fancy. Decent food (Steve's over Greek Corner). No pretension. The reason I don't like the Greek Corner location in Harvard Square is that it's a badly-run sandwich joint. I wish they'd just move the full North Cambridge location to Harvard Square. More convenient, and better food.

                                        2. re: jpramas

                                          Glad you agree on Aegean, I think the food there is an abomination.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Yeah, they served us something that was supposed to be grilled octopus once. Only it looked and tasted like worms. Ew.

                                        3. What about Sabur(sp?) in Somerville, up Holland from Davis Square? Are they Greek? I've never been, but these boards have been friendly to them in the past.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Hegenbarth

                                            from the website: "regions ranging from Italy, Greece, Southern France, and the Balkans to North Africa and beyond."

                                            to which I'd add: heavy on the balkans, very light on the Greek.

                                            1. re: Hegenbarth

                                              I haven't tried it because my parents gave it a thumbs-down. I believe the owners are Croatian.

                                              1. re: Hegenbarth

                                                Food at Sabur is NOT Greek and not really that good either.

                                              2. Anyone know anything about Demos in Waltham?

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: podence

                                                  I actually kinda like demos. Half diner, half watertown institution, not particularly Greek, though with some greek dishes.

                                                  Their kebabs are excellent, chicken, lamb beef as either a sandwich or a plate. All very nicely done.

                                                  Their black eyed pea soup is a delightful tasty meal in itself.

                                                  They have interesting if heavy specials every day. Lamb shank, meatloaf, porkchops, etc.

                                                  The decor was due for a refurb in 1990. The crowd is local. The vibe is soothing and old school.

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    Went there once with my wife and her dad. Meh. Had the souvlaki. Bland. Rice kinda icky. Pita stale. Not worth a return trip.

                                                    1. re: jpramas

                                                      There are only 3-4 things on the menu at demos that are worth eating. The kebabs and the black eyed pea soup lead the way. Everything else can be pretty leaden.

                                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                                      The hummus there is an abomination....mealy, canned chick peas!

                                                  2. Does anyone know anything about Andros Diner (I think it's in Watertown)? I biked past it the other day but couldn't stop.

                                                    I, too, am curious about Greek places since we just got back from a 2 week eating tour of Greece. B had a Greek salad yesterday at the Burren which he said was okay but of course the feta was not what we'd gotten used to (and took for granted) over there.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: digga

                                                      If Middle Eastern works--vs. strictly Greek--Byblos in Norwood Center is terrific, I had lunch there recently and can't wait to go back. Because I wanted to sample their basics, I had the combo of kibbee, falafel, hommus and tabouli. It was terrific: the kibbee was lightly crisp outside with a moist center with a rich flavor, the felafel and hommus were great and the tabouli was wonderful--truly like my best friend from high school's mom used to make, mostly parsley with just a hint of bulgar and deliciously lemony.

                                                      DCs ordered specials that included a chicken with rice and pine nuts (not kabobs) and anther with eggplant in a tomato-based sauce and rice--both were outstanding.

                                                      Just describing it makes me want to arrange another another foray right now!

                                                      1. re: digga

                                                        You can purchase some really excellent fetas (French, Greek, Bulgarian, etc.) at Sevan in Watertown.

                                                        Sevan Bakery
                                                        www.sevanboston.com

                                                        599 Mount Auburn St
                                                        Watertown, MA 02472
                                                        (617) 924-3243

                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                          I like the Bulgarian feta at Sevan. It's a little sharper and drier than greek feta. Both can be purchased in a block, which is particularly useful if you plan to hold it for a while. Break off a chunk to crumble in salads, leave the rest in the brine for later.

                                                        2. re: digga

                                                          I like Andros for what it is -- homey, family style greekish dining with great waitresses and reasonable prices. The baked lamb dish is served with the rice and tomato sauce that is traditional greek-american fare. They have specials daily, some of which are strictly diner -- roast turkey dinner, etc., and others that are more greek -- roast pork and roast lamb. To me, it's comfort food but not necessarily a place I'd head for GREAT Greek food. On par with Greek Corner I'd say.

                                                        3. You can also purchase many Greek delights at Sophia's Pantry in Belmont, Excellent variety of feta, kasseri, kephalotiri cheeses, fresh lokaniko (greek sausage) etc. We ate at Byblos in Norwood once. No way no how is this in any way comparable to Greek food. If you like lebanese food I guess it is ok- because we are used to the greek way of making things, we did not particularly like anything- everything had totally different spices. If you are looking for ordinary but well made souvlaki and greek salad, fried zucchini Greek style- Maugus - a little storefront restaurant in Wellesley is ok. Some things at Farm Grill are ok. Aegean is awful. Ithaki is good, Now I am going to eat the dinner I have spent the last 4 days making for Greek Easter.

                                                          1. Though it is not strictly a Greek restaurant, I think that Kouzina in Waban is a great restaurant and good value for dinner. They serve some of the best and most unusual renditions of moussaka and pasticcio I have ever eaten. They serve delicious Greek salads, some Greek appetizers and the best baklava I have ever eaten. Kouzina serves more of a Mediterranean menu with some Greek dishes.

                                                            1. There is a place near Kendall Square called Despina, and it's a little family place with a bar area also, that serves Greek food- I went there for the first time with greek friends (who are studying in town) and they like it, so I suspect it's a pretty good facsimile of true greek cuisine.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Jardinia

                                                                It's Desfina -- and it gets mixed reviews on the board. I think it's fine but some others find it vile. I had a nice grilled octopus salad there once but haven't been back recently.

                                                                1. re: Jardinia

                                                                  There are mentions of Desfina above. If your friends from Greece had more options, I can assure you they wouldn't go there.