Mykonos Restaurant

Greek Restaurants in New York

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
July 30, 2007

34-21 34th Ave
@ 34th St
Astoria, NY 11106

S’agapo not only has great home-style cooking, but it also has charm, as the mission of owners Kostas and Barbara Lambrakis is to make you feel as if you are dining in their home. Located on the border of Long Island City and Astoria, S’agapo features delicious traditional Cretan cuisine. The pikilia orektikon (an assortment of all their spreads) is definitely worth sampling. In addition to the usual tzatziki and skordalia, there are some traditional Cretan dips like beets, hummus and parsley, which they manage to make truly memorable. The menu is extensive and everything is good, from Cretan sausages, fried cheeses, classic meatballs, stuffed cabbage, to fresh grilled fish, but what really stands out in my memory is the kalitsounia (lightly fried traditional Cretan cheese & mint dumplings served w/ clover honey). I’m always wary of fried dumplings because they are often too greasy, or have the wrong proportion of dough to filling. These dumplings are near perfect. The Cretan cheese is soft and tastes like ricotta, and the clover honey adds just the right touch of sweetness to this ideal appetizer!

105 Thompson St
(Prince & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012

Before Snack Taverna in the West Village, there was Snack, a discreet tiny sliver of a restaurant on Thompson Street. This is one of my favorite lunch spots, which I visit especially for the tasty salads and sandwiches. Snack also serves cold and hot mezedes, savory pies and entrées; an amazing variety of food for such a small kitchen. The star item on the menu is the lamb sandwich, lamb 1.3. (all of the sandwiches are named in this way, by meat or method of cooking, and a number.) Juicy pieces of braised lamb are served on ciabatta with roasted red onions, tomatoes, arugula and a homemade roasted tomato aioli sauce. The lamb and tomato aioli are like lost lovers reunited at last, while the rest of the flavors do their parts in supporting roles, so that all work in unison to create a succulent sandwich. Did I just say succulent sandwich?! Well, it is!

35 W 20th St
(5th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011

When a restaurant has one truly outstanding dish on the menu, it often overshadows everything else. Yes, I’m talking about the octopus at Periyali. The oktapodi sharas (octopus in red wine marinade over charcoal) is shockingly excellent. I’ve had my fair share of octopus this past month, and I now cringe a little whenever an eating companion says, “I love octopus!” But Periyali’s octopus is an indelible food memory: three gorgeous octopus arms, each with the perfect crisp texture on the outside which, once bit into, reveal perfectly tender, juicy meat inside. Even after a little cooling, it never loses its consistency (having octopus turn rubbery mid-meal is the worst). Naturally, this dish inspired a strong craving!

141 E 48th St
(Lexington & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10017

Of all the great Greek restaurants in town, Avra is my favorite for a refined and indulgent Greek dining experience. Call me predictable, but I love their plaki (oven baked Chilean sea bass with vidalia onions, tomato and herbs). The Chilean sea bass tastes like butter and the rustic flavors of the onions, tomatoes and herbs sublimely infuse themselves into the fish while in the oven. It’s both comfort food and decadence!

128 E 7th St
(1st Ave & Ave A)
New York, NY 10009

Pylos is a lovely Greek haven in the East Village. The interior is extremely soothing, with blue and white walls that recall the style of the Greek islands, and rustic clay pots hanging from the ceiling. From the looks of the restaurant, one would hardly expect it to be rustic, as the interior emulates “trendy” more than “homey.” But the food speaks for itself: from the beet salad to the fresh grilled dorado to the dessert of yogurt with sour cherry, honey and walnut, everything tastes fresh, clean and pure. If only they had tables big enough to hold all the dishes I ordered, and if only the waiters were less eager to clear plates off the table any and every chance they got. If I’m still eating, I want to be left alone!

36 W 52nd St
(5th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

While most Greek restaurants in the City are serving traditional Greek fare, Michael Psilakis’s high-end Anthos creates nouveau or modern Aegean cuisine which is both fun and delicious. Perhaps Psilakis does not incline towards the traditional because he is a self-taught chef; he instead endeavors to create modern cuisine using traditionally Greek ingredients. The prices are steep but there is a $28 three-course prix-fixe lunch menu that will give you a good taste of some of the first innovative and successful contemporary Greek cuisine to come out of New York.

871 7th Ave
(55th & 56th St)
New York, NY 10019

Molyvos is a huge Greek taverna close to Carnegie Hall, offering both light meals of meze at the front of the restaurant and fine dining in the rear dining room. I recommend getting drinks and ordering from the meze menu, even as lunch or dinner. The mezedes are perfect sized tapas, allowing one to sample a wide variety of snacks. Molyvos is a refreshing option for those nights after a performance at Carnegie Hall when one is tired of Burger Joint and Yakitori Totto.

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