Let plates of grilled octopus, melitzansalata—eggplant whipped with herbs and olive oil—and the flakiest spanakopita transport you to Greece. These are 10 divine Greek restaurants in the MICHELIN Guide New York City and Westchester.
Pylos (East Village)Taking its name from the Greek translation of “made from clay,” this contemporary taverna also features a ceiling canopy of suspended terra-cotta pots, rustic whitewashed walls and lapis-blue insets. Pale-green stemware and stark-white crockery are used to serve wines from the homeland as well as a menu of rustic, home-style food. Keftedakia are light and texturally exquisite meatballs, pan fried in olive oil and proffered as an appetizer. Gigantes are baked in honey-scented tomato-dill sauce; while aginares moussaka is a creamy vegetarian take on the classic, made here with artichokes.
Molyvos (Midtown West)The city has upped its Greek game in recent years, but Molyvos has more than earned its OG status—having served fresh Mediterranean cuisine to a loyal crowd for innumerable years. Among a host of delicious sounding (and tasting) items is lamb pie, highlighting flaky, fried phyllo packed with tender shredded shank and a mild cheese sauce. Plush pillows of bougatsa filled with warm semolina custard will have you begging for more. The wine list is of particular note, starring some of the city's finest all-Greek vintages.
Eléa (Upper West Side)Fitted out with whitewashed brick walls, weathered wood beams, and pretty lighting, the bi-level space exudes all the easy-breezy feels. Add on the deliciously rustic food and you have a win. Imagine everything from creamy spreads with pita bread to fresh fish to get your taste buds going. Following suit, ingredients are given the spotlight in the likes of htipiti (feta with roasted chili pepper); taramasalata with cured ikura and pickled capers; as well as whole grilled tsipoura in a lemon, olive oil, and caper sauce. Finish with elmek, mountain tea-infused custard crème in shredded phyllo and topped with crumbled pistachio.
Kyma (Chelsea)All Hellenic meals begin with a panoply of spreads, so using a warm pita, scoop up the pikilia trio with feta, hummus and taramasalata. Calamari stuffed with four cheeses and served over a Nafpaktos tomato sauce is a winner. Not far behind, find that phyllo-wrapped spanakopita delight with spinach and cheese. The menu also lists a series of fresh-caught fish ready for “your pleasure.” Carnivores though will also get their fill by way of the short rib youvetsi.
Periyali (Flatiron)Relaxing and stylish for grown-ups, Periyali serves the kind of straightforward Greek cooking that remains blissfully unconcerned with trends. Think grilled octopus is boring? Think again, when presented with charcoal-grilled morsels, marinated for two days in red wine and finished with olive oil and parsley sauce. A puréed dish of fava kremidaki showcases a terrific blend of textures, colors and flavors that is the heart and soul of this rustic kitchen.
Lola Taverna (Soho)The dining room's white stucco walls and windows set a warm and welcoming vibe, and the bar in the front is just right for a drink or two while waiting for a table. This is not your average Greek restaurant serving the tired old clichés. Instead, the chef infuses a hint of whimsy into each dish and delivers on flavor and quality. Some standouts include spanakopita spring rolls, chicken gyro bao buns, and moussaka with lamb or vegetarian options. Come
Mythos (Auburndale)A gathering place for Greeks and non-Greeks alike, this family-run and friendly restaurant tempts with impeccably fresh fish, cooked over charcoal and basted simply with olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Beyond the whitewashed exterior and dark blue awning is a large dining room with rows of neat tables for indulging in Hellenic pleasures—from zesty appetizers to boisterous conversations. Settle into an array of pikilia; cold appetizers such as melitzansalata, eggplant whipped with herbs and olive oil. Chargrilled fish, priced by the pound, has a delightfully smoky essence and moist flesh.
Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna (Astoria)Judge a book by its cover and miss the rustic pleasures found within this old-time Greek retreat. The room is tiny and the tables are bare, topped with butcher paper, but of all the many tavernas that line these Astoria streets, Gregory's is one of the more serious and charming, turning out refreshingly honest and intensely flavorful cooking. Begin with tirokafteri, a satisfying spread of feta blended with pickled red chili peppers and served with hot pita points. Lightly fried eggplant and zucchini plated with a garlicky potato spread demonstrate an epic study in crunchy textures and creamy flavors.
Taverna Kyclades (Astoria)You will only find happy people here, and the Aegean-blue awning feels as essential to the neighborhood as traffic lights. This beloved Greek spot (with a second location in the East Village) is a lively one where the bustling kitchen is in view. Grab a seat on the enclosed patio for some serenity and get things going with garlicky and bubbling-hot crab-stuffed clams; or the cold, classic trio of powerful skordalia, cooling tzatziki and briny taramosalata served with toasted pita triangles. Order a side of horta (steamed escarole and dandelion) to accompany a plate of sweet and delicate mullets, served with a side of lemon potatoes.
MP Taverna (Irvington)Chef Michael Psilakis puts the "MP" in this taverna, serving his modern interpretation of Greek cuisine. Just steps from the Hudson River, enter through the sleek bar area to arrive inside this 18th-century structure, donning rustic brass chandeliers, mahogany panels, and neutral hues mingled with pops of blue. Whether seated at a booth, banquette or table, diners can count on family-style plates. Start with meze, like grilled octopus or an eggplant dip, before savoring mains like ricotta dumplings enrobed in spicy lamb sausage and sundried tomato. Desserts too flaunt a contemporary twist, as in the apple baklava Napoleon or chocolate halva brownie.
Hero image: Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna. Photo @rattyboom/Instagram