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Nov 24, 2008 09:03 AM

Comparing Greek Restaurants in Houston

After going to the Greek Festival this weekend I am all about eating even more greek food! One of my favorite cuisines. First time I had it was 30 plus years ago in a place named Zorba's. I didn't know what I was eating but my date did and he did all the ordering, and I just gobbled it down. Since then I have had the dinner plate at the greek fest, first time over 6 years ago. I had to go to the website and write down the dishes they served so I knew what to look for when going to a restaurant. I have also gone to Niko's which I liked a lot. The only other is I had some spanakopita at the Ren Fest once, but that's it. Now I am curious about Biba's, but there is no menu online, and Yia Yia Mary's. I wanted to try this place in the Woodlands called Olive Oil when we stayed out there in August, but never got around to it, sigh. Any other places worth mentioning? Oh, I might add that I am NOT looking for gyros. I like the meat, but I don't care for the sauce much.

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  1. Missed it this year; first I can remember. I totally forgot about the festival as they moved it from the normal October time (for good reason).

    Yia Yia Mary's is good, but it will cost you. The two dishes I used to get there (used to work across the street) was the seafood souvlaki (YUM) and the octopus (double YUM). I'd skip it for lunch as it gets stupid crowded and the ordering system (at the counter, but you pay later ???) is confusing.

    I've been to the Biba's Pizza on Memorial. Not bad, not great, but I'd recommend it. It's definitely no frills.

    Niko's is an institution. Love it.

    I went to Alexander the Greek by the Galleria a few times. Last time I went was a few years ago and they had just changed owners (not a good sign), but the food was good. Definitely more expensive than the others. Anybody been recently?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Bulldozer

      Thanks Bulldozer.

      Biba's One's a Meal is the place I am curious about, not the pizza place. Do you think Yia Yia is more expensive or equal to Alexanders? Someone else on another board recommended Alexanders. Actually a couple people did. Everyone always says Niko's, which I have tried and really do like.

      1. re: danhole

        Ahh, Zorba's. I ran across an old isuue of the long ago defunct Houston City magazine, circa late 70's, and it said of Zorba's that the day you could not get a cold glass of retsina and some fried shrimp would be a sad day indeed. Indeed. There were two Zorba's, the original a wooden shack with a sloping floor, then a newer, spiffier version, both on Tuam, near Fairview. Needless to say, the original was better, but the lines were crazy. About the same time there was another little place on Navigation named Ninfa's. Those were the days, fine eating, and a non-stop party at both places. There was a waiter named Johnny, loud, gregarious, I always sat in his section. At the old joint, there was a fellow at the bar who would burst into a fine version of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", I believe it when it was played on the juke box. Cut to the mid-2000's, I walk into Biba's having heard that the waiter from Zorba's was the owner. It was a Monday I think, and I asked the waitress about Johnny, she replied yes, he is the owner, off today but he will remeber me. Sure enough, next time I went in, 30 plus years later, and it was like old times. The fried shrimp was not quite as good as I remember, but better than most in town. It's a light, battered version. Now after all of this preamble, I've heard that Biba's is moving, or already has moved. As far as Niko Niko, I went there a number of years ago and found the fried shrimp to be lacking, very lacking, and a red snapper that was about a week past prime. I've not been back since, but as I said, it was a few years ago. Anyway, as the old NY Yankee Yogi Berra says, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

        1. re: James Cristinian


          Yes, Zorba's was a hoot! I loved it. We went to the shack one. I believe we had to go up a couple steps to get to our table. We had a group with us, and it was a perfect first time introduction to greek everything. Biba's has already made the move, but I'm not going for shrimp. I want the spanakopita, pastitsio, and stuff like that.

          1. re: danhole

            I must admit I am not the best source for true Greek food at all, I tend to judge on seafood. Did you ever go to Mykonos Island? They also had two locations, both S. Shepard/Richmond area, but they lost their lease. I hope they can re-open. I am not a big lamb fan, but all my friends loved theirs.

            1. re: James Cristinian


              I am not a big seafood fan, and while I like lamb, that is not why I eat greek. It is all about the phyllo dough and greek casserole dishes. But, let me ask you this, is greek seafood different from other seafood?

              I never did try Mykonos Island, but I remember seeing it.

              1. re: danhole

                Dani, The fried shrimp is done in a batter, light and delicious. I have no clue if this is how it is done in Greece, if they even fry shrimp at all. My favorite dish at Mykonos was a butterflied, chargrilled red snapper. I would say the difference would be in the use of oregano, in combination with olive oil and lemon, oregano dominating the dish.

          2. re: James Cristinian

            Was Johnny the tall thin guy with the dark moustache that flirted with every woman that ever went in there? :p He was unforgettable.

            I loved the fried shrimp, I think it had a hint of garlic in the batter, the seafood platter, It taught me that I liked frog legs and the tyropita. I started going to the original place and continued after the remodeling. I didn't have a problem with it after the remodel because it was easier to get friends through the front door and because the air conditioning was more reliable. Think seafood, Houston, August and no air, The other Greek restaurant I went to was on Clinton close to McCarty. It was aimed more toward the people that worked on the ships from the neighboring ship channel. It was not a date place.

            There was an Italian place on Leland that I really liked. The Ballatori family moved to Houston and opened it in an old bank.

            1. re: blewgo

              The place near the port was Athens Bar & Grill-always good for interesting memories ;) including the dancers which alternated nightly between belly dancers and the guys doing the traditional Greek dances with ozo and retsina(sp?).

              1. re: GlobalFoodie

                There will never be another place to match the Athens Bar & Grille, for sure. I like Niko Niko on Montrose near Westheimer. At Clear Lake, there are three pretty good ones, and across the lake is Skipper's with limited Greek fare.

              2. re: blewgo

                Blewgo, that was Johnny. The shrimp did have a hint of garlic, to this day it is the best fried shrimp I 've ever had. I also ate the frog legs on the platter, I think you could sub them, but I never did.

        2. Even better than Niko is Stelio's. 5216 Richmond. It's part of a service station, but for my money, the food is tastier and fresher than at Niko's. Plus you get the added bonus of getting to watch people fill-up while dining.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodpro13

            Now that's an odd combo, Greek food and gas, or maybe not so much! I'll keep that in mind.

          2. Biba's One's a Meal has moved to lower Westheimer at Grant. Johnny and I also had a trip down memory lane about the old Zorba's. The food at Biba's is a good as ever. Niko's is good but it is SO packed. I didn't like Yia Yia's, too expensive and just so, so food....what Greek place do you have to pay to get pita bread with your meal? Sounds like I'll try Stelio's, thanks for the tip.

            1. Dani,
              You might also try the Roadster Grill at the Bellaire triangle. The personable Greek owner, Nic, is right there cooking his grandmothers recipies and taking an active role in the operations. My favorite is the Moucassa(sp?) and his greek salad-both are fresh , flavorful, and home made. Others have said the burgers are good, but I haven't tried them. An odd item on the menue is a butterscotch malt, but it is tasty as well. As far as ambiance, the building is a former Taco Bell including drive thru, all painted Greek blue.

              4 Replies
              1. re: GlobalFoodie

                Andi, Glad to "see" you again. Hope you are doing well. I used to live in that area many year ago. I volunteered at the Hospital close to the Triangle. Now that is so far from where I live, I doubt I will ever get that way, but if I do I will remember to try that place. Thanks.

                1. re: danhole

                  Go to Stelio's on Richmond as "foodpro" memntion above,, you won't be disappointed!!! They have a very loyal following and are IMO a hidden jewel. This is a bare bones joint with limited seating.

                  1. re: bornie

                    Stelios was sold a while back. The new owner did not look very Greek to me.

                    1. re: bornie

                      I third Stelio's - I liked the food better there than at Niko Niko's. However, I haven't been back to the place since they switched hands. An update on the establishment would be appreciated! :-)

                2. Well guess what I ran into guys! Greek food! Last Sunday me and my hubby stopped at Harry's for brunch. I was going to have breakfast when I saw their new lunch menu. Their lunch menu on Sundays is Greek. The owners are Greek and while mostly their breakfast menu has dishes from all over, their daughter is the chef on Sundays. She was so gracious to come and explain to me that her menu changes every so often so she could cover all the various dishes from Greece and Cyprus. Its great that with every dish there is a little background info of its origin. I had the sampler platter........ that had stuffed squid with orzo and rice, lamb chops, stuffed zucchini with a cream lemon sauce.........needless to say it was delicious. Too bad it is only on Sundays hopefully they will think about adding more Greek days.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: andromaxi

                    Looking at the menu I see they have various greek dishes offered throughout the week, but the Sunday lunch menu is mainly greek? Sounds good! Thanks for sharing.