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Quality Greek Restaurant in NoVa, DC, Baltimore?

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Hi

I'm looking for good quality Greek restaurants in (1) Northern Virginia (2) Washington DC and (3) Baltimore. I know some people who like Greek cuisine and would like to take them to restaurants that serve good food but also have good atmospheres (I would prefer to not have to take them to typical greasy-spoon diners, though those types of places are enjoyable as well, depending on the occasion).

Your assistance is much appreciated.

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  1. Greektown in Baltimore has some really good Greek restaurants. I've eaten at all of them with the exception of Mylos which is the new kid on the block (two years old).
    The ones I really liked are Samos and The Acropolis. Samos is so popular (because their food is excellent) that the line usually goes out the door.

    I hear that The Black Olive in Baltimore is really good too, but much more expensive then the restaurants in Greektown - they have a fair number of seafood dishes and tends toward high-brow Greek food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Whitemarshjohn

      Agree with Whitemarshjohn, but want to add that I would rather eat at the Acropolis than wait in line at Samos.

    2. If you would be interested in considering Turkish cuisine rather than Greek -- which is fairly similar -- I'd recommend Temel in Fairfax. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is pleasant, quiet, and more upscale than many such places.

      1. While it's not fancy, just sort of a place that gives way more attention to the food than decor, Zorba's in Baltimored easily has the best and most authentic Greek food in these parts.

        2 Replies
        1. re: baltoellen

          It has been many years since I have eaten at Zorba's, but I can still recall the deliciousness of the roasted pork.

          1. re: elgringoviejo

            The lamb chops are one of my favorite dishes in Baltimore. Had we not had our chow dinner there i'm not sure I ever would have managed to order anything else.

        2. I recommend Levante's. They have a two locations (Dupont and Bethesda) but they started in Bethesda. They are upscale without being too pricey and have a very nice atmosphere. They sell themselves as mediterranean but serve a lot of Greek foods (spinach pie, pasticcio). They are definitely more of a meat restaurant than a seafood restaurant but I do like the place.
          http://www.levantes.com

          1. The Greek Taverna in McLean will definitely meet your requirements. Their nightly braised lamb specials are reliably excellent, and their execution of the Greek classics is very good, too. I'm not a big fan of the green beans that accompany most of their entrees because the style is long-cooking with bits of tomato added. (I know there are advocates of the long-cooking approach, but I'm of the opinion that green veggies should be exposed to no more than a bit of steam heat.) Their lemon-roasted potatoes are lovely.

            Recently, I ate their grilled calamari and was horribly disappointed. The calamari had no flavor whatsoever and the texture was chewy. Since this was the first disastrous meal we've eaten there and since we have eaten at this restaurant once montly since they opened, their track record is still overwhelmingly positive.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Indy 67

              I agree re: Greek Taverna. We've only been there once, but my lamb special was terrific.

              1. re: jaydreb

                my greek friends in great falls go there to eat out greek food.

              2. re: Indy 67

                I can't agree with Taverna Cretekou. We went once for brunch and thought the staff was friendly--even met the owner. There was a buffet and at the buffet was some soup. We asked the owner if it was avgolemono and he said "yes". What a disappointment! It had no lemon flavor at all. The owner's explanation for this? They used to make it the authentic way but the customers complained! Sorry, but if people go to a restaurant to experience a particular ethnic cuisine, they should expect to get the real thing. IMO, the owner shouldn't have dumbed down the food.

                1. re: MizYellowRose

                  Don't know about others on here, but I wouldn't judge a place based solely on soup served on a buffet versus ordering an item off the menu.

                  1. re: MizYellowRose

                    The Sunday brunch is a mistake at Taverna Cretekou. A true hound would spot this immediately upon inspection of the offerings. I made the trip once thinking it would be a good way to try the place out and there was no way I was going to be suckered into it and the price was outrageous, $17.95 or something like that. All the food was tepid and looked like it had been sitting there for weeks and it was only 12 o'clock.

                    I highly recommend going at any time but the brunch and enjoying the weather in their outdoor pleasant patio area. It's adjacent to a rather slow side street in Old Town. The waiters are very personable, some people may not take to service by actual human beings with feelings and moods, but I really enjoyed the tender lamb and the smartass comments from the old coot who complained about us sharing a dish. This is the perfect time to go there, not many quiet outdoor eating experiences of this caliber in the area.

                    1. re: justaddwater

                      Sorry---Brunch or no brunch when the owner admits to dumbing down the food because people complained, that isn't a mark of a good restaurant. Just my opinion... We were there as a relative's guests so walking out wasn't an option.

                  2. re: Indy 67

                    I second the Greek Taverna. Their olive bread is outstanding. Last time we sat outside and we could smell the grapes from the grapevines that grow overhead.

                    -----
                    Greek Taverna
                    6828 Old Dominion Dr Ste C, Mc Lean, VA 22101

                  3. Mykonos in Reston is pretty good. My brother, who is very familiar with Greece (specifically Crete) went there with me one afternoon around the holidays and he gave it the authentic passing grade. What seemed to be the owners are definitely Greek.

                    1. Try Taverna Cretekou on King Street in Old Town Alexandria,VA and Mourayo on Connecticut Avenue just above Dupont Circle. The latter specializes in Greek seafood. I highly recommend both.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Dakota Guy

                        I agree on Taverna Cretekou. You should go on a Thursday night--they have greek music and dancing and plate breaking. It's supposed to be fun and we plan to go for it soon (we went on a Sunday night the first time). This place is great--very authentic and delicious food.

                        1. re: KWynn

                          While the food is okay at Taverna Cretekou, I have to say that I have been thoroughly unimpressed with the waitstaff for being pushy and rude. Some friends have told me that you just have to expect pushy waiters at greek restaurants, but having eaten at many such places I'd have to disagree with such a generalization.

                          1. re: kcboy

                            I've had the exact opposite experience with service at Taverna Cretekou, although that might be because I was wearing a Greek teeshirt and one of my guests was a Greek.

                      2. Komi, Zaytinya, Mourayo are all Greek restaurants in DC.

                        1. Vaso's Kitchen in N. Old Town.
                          www.houndstoothgourmet.com

                          1. Can't vouch for the Baltimore restaurants in recent years (except to say that Black Olive is not particularly authentic or good Greek food, certainly not for the price), and DC is fairly limited.

                            When Levante first opened (and, btw, it's a chain restaurant from Germany) it was pretty good. Last few times I ate there it was mediocre or worse. Which also describes The Greek Taverna in McLean. Definitely not one of my top picks for DC. Mykonos is terrific but keep in mind it's not cheap. Granted, it's not Komi expernsive...Komi's great, but not really Greek food. It's Greek themed food, using similar ingredients but with a modern, culinary sensibility. Zaytinya I found incredibly hit-or-miss when I ate there a couple years ago, and for the price I wasn't willing to go back for that. Mourayo is liked by some, but I find it a total waste of money. Twenty-dollar entrees for Greek food? Really? And it's not even Komi?

                            I'd rather spend a fraction of the money at Athena Pallas in Crystal City, where the owner/chef turns out dependably great stand-bys every night along with fantastic specials he pulls from various regions of Greece. The beef-tongue with mustard appetizer I had last week was a treat, as is the octopus whenever he has it. And, hands-down, THE BEST TARAMASALATA IN TOWN! Sorry to shout, but for something that significant you just have to. The owner makes his patzaria appetizer (beet slices marinated in oil and vinegar, usually served with a garlic paste) with beets he gets from a man with his own back-yard garden. Awesome Greek-style lamb chops (loooove the paidakia but make sure when you say medium rare that they're going to leave them pink in the middle), great fish served simply (though Mykonos has it over Athena when it comes to fish), very good pastitsio. My favorites are usually the specials, and usually the Cretan ones (if they have the roast pork with celery, get it). Plus, they make their own ice cream daily. Coconut, cinnamon, peach, strawberry and more, all with fresh ingredients. Try the coconut. Also fresh fruit, yogurt, baklava, etc. But we all love the ice creams (and sorbet) to death. Like Mykonos, this is the real deal...Greek food (which is peasant food...don't let anyone ever tell you anything else...if they do, they don't know anything about it) cooked by Greeks who love it and who don't obfuscate the basic flavors by adding all kinds of stupid crap. It's all about the interplay of simple, basic ingredient. Cooked right. I'm not saying other styles of places aren't worth eating at (Komi's a big example of that...it's wonderful), just that I don't really consider them Greek restaurants per se. I hit this place at least twice a month, and for food quality, value and genuine friendliness (the three things that define a truly great Greek restaurant), this place is tops for me.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: kzzaaa

                              wow, thanks for that great recommendation! i will definitely check out the athena pallas. http://www.athenapallasrestaurant.com/

                              those are great prices! is the website menu up-to-date?

                              1. re: alkapal

                                we went to athenas pallas last night. will definitely go back.

                                had lamb shank and a shrimp with ouzo tomato sauce and pasta as mains. med dip sampler and their homemeade sausage as apps, along with the horiatiki salad. 1/2 carafe of retsina.

                                decor was muted, tasteful, quiet. bas relief plaques framed along the wall and niches. cloth tablecloths. we got there around 6, and left about 7:40. service was cordial, unhurried. our water glasses were routinely filled.

                                the med dips came first. of the selection, we agreed that the hummus and the taramasalata were the outstanding ones. they were all good, and the pita wedges were good, and plentiful.

                                the sausage app was recommended as a special app. homemade, and lamb i believe. nicely spiced, in a savory tomatoe-y onion sauce. very large portion for only 5.95. with the huge, fresh country-style horiatiki salad, we could have stopped there for a really substantial meal!

                                the salad bowl was huge. probably 12" across, and an inch deep. filled with huge chunks of fresh, tasty tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, capers, small amount of onion, kalamata olives, and nicely dressed with an herby, but not overbearing, olive oil vinaigrette. (i wonder if they do half-portions? i'll ask next time -- it is HUGE.) at 9.95, it is a dollar more than the online menu.

                                lamb shank was substantial, and was braised in a tomato sauce, probably very traditional. mr. alka offered me a bite or two, but i was already struggling to eat even 1/4 of my delicious shrimp and ouzo tomato cream sauce pasta dish. eight very large shrimp were topping a large bed of spaghetti, sauce throughout (i.e., cooked like mario batali would do!) (mr. alka asked when this type of dish was greek. he he, yeah, but who cares? it was really tasty. and the waiter had described it accurately, sauce not heavy, a little creamy, and a touch of anise flavor. and a touch was perfect balance. there was also a bit of onion in the sauce.) $18.95. a good value, in our opinion. (pet peeve, tails left on shrimp.)

                                house was busiest around 6:30-7 pm. no rushing of clientele. seemed like would only have a couple seatings per night. this was thursday evening, and it was almost completely full at 6:45. the menu specials of the day are listed on a board -- with prices, thank you! -- as you enter.

                                we watched other diners' orders: greek combination platter was enormous (and popular). lamb shanks popular. salads and med dip sampler popular. stuffed mushroom caps also looked really good, but our waiter had recommended the sausage.

                                negatives: had to deal with putting our leftovers in containers and the bag. because we had a small table, there was no way to deal with space, except to place one empty platter on top of the other. that was annoying. second, the bread they brought to the table was a bit stale.

                                bottom line: we couldn't believe we have lived here in arlington so long and had never even heard of this place! we will happily return.

                                thanks again for the recommendation! (now, i'm gonna have to reserve a table, as other chowhounds flock there. ;-)

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  i want to add: while many dishes have tomato components, there is no "universal sauce" thing going on. each dish was delicious and well-balanced.

                                  also forgot to mention: olive oil in a cruet at every table. but even i did not tweak with it! amazing. ask mr. alka!

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Very glad to hear you liked it. I forgot to mention that they take reservations, and that when the weather's nice it's worth calling ahead to get a table on the patio. I have no idea why this place doesn't have more of a rep. As far as recommending stuff you didn't have in your list, I'd say try the beet appetizer (when they have it), the dolmades (they're the hot kind with avgolemono sauce) and any roast pork dish that's on the specials list. Oh, and both the sea bream and the silver bass are exceptional. Just make sure to ask what sides come with the food...they have a tendency to add rice and carrots to a lot of stuff (even the pastitsio, which kind of makes me scratch my head) and you can easily ask for the oven roasted potatoes and/or green beans instead. Definitely get the oven-roasted potatoes over fries in every case...the latter are clearly frozen (sadly like almost every place these days) and not very appetizing.

                                    1. re: kzzaaa

                                      that night we were there they also had a whole steamed sea bream (i think it was sea bream) on the specials board for $24.95, also chicken piccata and a couple of other mains. about 4 special apps, including shrimp cocktail.

                                  2. re: alkapal

                                    I believe some of the food may be a dollar or two more now (food prices are up everywhere unfortunately), but all in all it looks pretty close. Most of the cold apps are still $4.95, and the portions are certainly not tiny. Just ate there tonight and had a grand meal, though I have to say the baklava was old and dry.

                                2. Cava in Rockville. www.cavamezze.com

                                  1. So here's my rant about Greek restaurants - there are 2 types just like Italian. There is the "blue and whites" similiar to the "red and whites" of Italian restaurants where you get the old style, often kitchy restaurant with "American-ized" cuisine - found in most Greektowns. Unfortunately this is what most people think of when they think of Greek restaurants. The quality and tastes aren't really that good...but the prices are cheap. Then there are those restaurants that try to match the gastronomy of the country they are visiting - with great food and wine...and this doesn't come cheap. (I take exception to the $20/entree for Greek food!). Showcasing the best ingredients and the best food and wine would be my preference if you really want to get the true flavors of a country.

                                    So with that said, I guess it depends on what you are looking for. There are many in the first category, but in DC for the later (and as a Greek foodie!) I can only recommend Mourayo (Komi is in a class by itself). Zaytinya's has some nice dishes but try to hard to be like NY (where by the way there are some fantastic Greek restaurants and they are not even close to Astoria!) but fall short. The wine list use to be good but has fallen off lately. The Black Olive and Meze in Baltimore are good too - the Black Olive does have the BEST Taramasalata in the area! Levante's food is really more turkish than Greek and those that are Greek are not even close to authentic or good for that matter!

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: katiesir

                                      Have you ever eaten grilled meats at Zorba? In what way is the taramasalata at the Black Olive superior to that served at Ikaros? Ever eaten either the dolmades or fried squid at either The Acropolis or Ikaros? Ever had the pleasure of eating the lamb baked with kritharaki in the yiouvetsi at The Acropolis? Or the moussaka at Ikaros? Ever tried the lentil soup at Samos? While I confess that Samos' Chicken Athena is Greek-American, I nonetheless find it quite tasty.

                                      1. re: elgringoviejo

                                        Actually I have tried all the ones you mentioned. I grew up eating at Ikaros(actually the best thing on the menu at Ikaros is the whole fish and the calamari isnt' bad - I still like Black Olive's Tarama better though). I guess I was trying to say that I think there is more to good Greek gastronomy than what you find at the "old style" Greek restaurants...it's a wonderful food and wine culture that has been stuck in an image/rut in the US...I just think the Greeks have more to offer than what's traditional thought of/served in most Greek restaurants.

                                        1. re: katiesir

                                          I have no doubt that one can get more authentic Greek food in Athens or the Big Apple, than in Baltimore or Washington, and I suppose that if price is no object than The Black Olive may be better than the fare served in the environs of Eastern avenue, but I am a traditionalist at heart and suppose than I won't ever be able to tear myself away from The Acropolis or Ikaros. <wink>.

                                          1. re: elgringoviejo

                                            Plaka Grill. Vienna, Virginia. www.plakagrill.com/html/about_us.html. Chef trained in Greece. The decor isn't fancy. Order at the counter and they bring the food. Delicious. Not expensive. I've never been to Greece so don't know what "authentic" is - but the people at Plaka Grill insist theirs is, and that their competitors aren't.

                                          2. re: katiesir

                                            The best tarama in Baltimore is served at Mezze, IMO.

                                            1. re: ko1

                                              I went to a great NEW Greek restaurant in Wheaton, MD that I really have to recommend. Taverna Kefi - It just opened this month. I have been to Greece a few times and this is probably the best greek food I've had in DC or in Baltimore. Definitely going back very soon.
                                              Only complaint - no kids menu but they made some recommendations and we were all quite pleased.