Can I Find Good Greek Food in Manhattan?

Good Greek food is hard to find.

I for one am a lover of Greek food after having frequented Greece twice before, when I fell in love with the azure water and beautiful landscape. There’s something so fresh, simple and heartfelt about Greek cooking. It’s not technically difficult and often the signature dishes remain the same across Greek establishments, but Greek food done well is simply satisfying.

Though in Manhattan, authentic, unadulterated Greek food is difficult to find (In the burbs, forget about it). I know, I know, you’ll probably tell me to go to Astoria for Greek, and I have done so before, but frankly shouldn’t Manhattan have good Greek food?

Well yes I would say it does in part, but you have to look for it. Mediocre neighborhood Greek food, like Tellos or Symposium, falls completely flat and leaves me wanting so much more.

If you want Haute-Greek, look to Midtown. After going to the ballet awhile back I went to Molyvos with the classiest betches I know and I must say the fare was excellent. I had a Braised lamb shank with Orzo which was delightful. We had the Spanakopita and of course the Baklava to finish. But something about Midtown pretention fails to sync up with my established persona of Greek food. I haven’t tried some of the best rated Greek restaurants in the city, like Nerai, but I’m sorry I’m looking for a Taverna feel, with hairy men serving me gyros.

Well you’re in luck because then look no further than Kefi – Reopened in my hood in a larger space, we had dinner downstairs which is bustling, noisy and very evocative of Greece. I had the Swordfish with olives and cauliflower which was actually rather excellent. The dish manages to elevate the swordfish, often bland. My friend had the Pork Souvlaki – established, trusted, and well-executed. I liken eating out now as a test of will as I plough forward with my Paleo diet. I lost this round as we spilt a Baklava and a Walnut Cake served with Walnut Ice cream. I don’t regret it, they were both authentic, homey, and delicious. Another visit compelled be to try the Lamb Burger, which although somewhat salty, fit the bill of simple, bold flavors. Also I would highly recommend the YiaYia’s Meatballs which do evoke Greek simplicity at its finest. The portions are big without being overpriced, the ambiance energetic, and the feel is authentic.

So I relent, those actually are two viable Manhattan Greek options, and I’ll admit that I haven’t tried all of the best rated Greek restaurants in the city, yet I’m still left wanting more. Maybe my issue is that every time I have Greek food I’m expecting to revisit the Greek Isles, sipping Vinsanto while overlooking the Mediterranean. Yes, Greek food at its core is simple and more about the fresh ingredients and clean flavors. Cooked with heart, often served family-style, Greek food is not meant to dazzle but rather the assurance of home cooking at its finest. I guess I’m always left wanting more because lets be real, the feel of Manhattan ≠ the feel of Greece. Alas with another trip to the Mediterranean around the corner, I’ll hold out for the real deal ambiance to get me through my days.

See more reviews at NYC Restaurants.

Molyvos – 871 Seventh Avenue – 212.582.7500

Kefi – 505 Columbus Ave – 212.873.0200

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