The Big Apple has no shortage of global cuisines, and that statement is particularly true when it comes to traditional Greek fare.
Here’s where to get the best of the best in the five boroughs.
What Our Inspectors Say: “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 chile 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. Then gently cooked sole seasoned with sweet red pepper powder and served with asparagus as well as cauliflower depicts the best in cuisine, Greek style!”
What Our Inspectors Say: "The full name of this delightful retreat is 'Merakia Greek Mountain Thief Spithouse Steak,' but the moniker isn’t the only memorable thing about it. To start with, the ample space is quite the looker, featuring a glinting open kitchen, cushy steel-blue velvet booths and massive arches overhead. Of course, then there's the equally impressive cooking-don't miss the 'spit + sigs' (labeled "dancing with the lamb"), which is a spectacular plate of off-the-spit lamb. Other signatures may include a starter of ripe tomatoes paired with cool little triangles of feta, tailed by tender and slow-cooked octopus. Grilled lamb chops from the 'American Meat' section, coupled with roasted lemon potatoes, will transport you to the Med and back, minus the jet lag."
What Our Inspectors Say: "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. The secret to its longevity lies in the kitchen’s simple and enjoyable food, smart service and casually elegant setting (tables covered with white cloth and a spare, rustic aesthetic). Executive chef Carlos Carreto oversees this menu. Among a host of delicious sounding (and tasting) items is the 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.”
What Our Inspectors Say: "This is where to find excellent home-style Greek cooking at unbeatable prices. Everything tastes fundamentally right and good, from the perfectly tender braised and grilled octopus to those moist and smoky lamb chops—the aromas alone guarantee that you will dine well here. Start with a superb spanakopita that balances flaky phyllo with just the right amount of chopped spinach, dotted with onion and feta. Saganaki entices with salty and springy Greek cheese wrapped in pastry that manages to stay crisp beneath a rich drenching of honey and sesame seeds. The tavern-like space feels attractively dark, cozy, fills up quickly and doesn't take reservations, so expect a wait. The servers and staff are a stylish and laid-back mirror image of the neighborhood."
What Our Inspectors Say: "This beloved Astoria steakhouse has a lot going for it, but its cause for celebration is that authentic Greek accent that imbues everything here. Excellent quality beef, as in the signature prime 'wedge' for two, is dry-aged in-house, charbroiled to exact specification and finished with sea salt and dried oregano. Vibrant starters and sides underscore the Aegean spirit at play with pan-fried vlahotyri cheese, charred octopus with roasted peppers and a red wine dressing, as well as smoked feta-mashed potatoes. Christos has a commanding presence on a quiet tree-shaded corner just off bustling Ditmars Blvd. Mixing shades of brown, the cozy and elegant dining room has a separate bar area and is lined with fish tanks stocked with live lobsters."
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What Our Inspectors Say: “Restaurateur Christos Valtzoglou has found the winning formula with this longstanding hideaway in the vibrant East Village. Pylos continues to sparkle as brightly as the Aegean Sea on a summer day. And, taking its name from the Greek translation of "made from clay," this contemporary taverna also features a ceiling canopy of suspended terra-cotta pots, dressing up a room with rustic whitewashed walls and lapis-blue insets. Pale-green stemware and stark white crockery are used to serve Greek wines and a menu of rustic home-style cooking. Gigantes are baked in honey-scented tomato-dill sauce; grilled marinated octopus is drizzled with balsamic reduction; and aginares moussaka is a creamy vegetarian take on the classic made here with artichokes.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “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. Quick, straightforward servers may address you in Greek if you look the part—that’s just how local it gets here. 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.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “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. Salmon may not be native to Greece, but it gets its due respect here, wrapped with herbs and baked in phyllo, served alongside stewed okra. 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. The dining room echoes the culinary theme with a suspended wall of shimmering decorative fish, abundant flower arrangements, and a back room flooded with natural light.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “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. Whole smelts are a rare and traditional treat, simply pan-fried with a lemony herb dressing. Finish with a choice of authentic, nutty, and syrup-soaked pastries.”
What Our Inspectors Say: "As its name in Greek suggests, this stunner is making 'waves' in town by way of Roslyn, New York. The bi-level space transports diners to the Ionian Sea but it’s not just beauty that bewitches here. 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. Ekmek kataifi featuring shredded phyllo and semolina custard is a fine way to end this Greek feast."