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5 Best Greek Restaurants in Astoria

More than just a gyro - from traditional to modern Greek food in Astoria

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Greek restaurants and traditional Greek food have made Astoria famous. But in a neighborhood where pita bread and olive oil take the place of bread and butter, originality is key to a successful Greek eatery. From moussaka to beeftekia, tzatziki to saganaki, these five meat-and-potatoes (or at least meat and pita) Greek restaurants are must eats.

Agnanti Meze - The Comfort of Yia-Yia's Kitchen

Across from Astoria Park, Agnanti lives and breathes tradition, family, and Mediterranean culture. The décor is endearing and nostalgic, with artifacts and photos from the old country. You can't help but feel enveloped by Agnanti's personal touch, as if you're sitting in your yia-yia (grandma)'s kitchen.

The food tells a similar family story. With "meze" in its name, Agnanti's strength lies in small dishes, both hot and cold. The melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant/garlic spread, $6) ignites the senses, but isn't too heavy in the stomach. Other amazing meze include tomatokeftedes (tomato and herb croquettes, $7) and the kefte mentite (chopped meat and yogurt patties, $7).

  • Agnanti Meze, 19-06 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105, 718-545-4554

Ovelia Psistaria - A Modern Take on Greek Traditions

A newcomer to Astoria in 2007, Ovelia already holds its own. Walk by and peek inside; you won't find empty tables. Owned by two sets of brothers (and Astoria natives), Ovelia exudes life and style. The atmosphere is sleek and modern without trying too hard, and the music mixes Greek with American pop. A hangout for young patrons, you'll find Ovelia bumping, especially on the weekends, for its famous brunch.

The best dish at Ovelia? The homemade Greek sausage -- ground by husband and wife chefs Litsa and John Giannakas -- is a fragrant accompaniment to the signature omelettes ($13). The homemade tiropita feta toast is also a favorite for brunch or lunch ($8-$13).

  • Ovelia Psistaria, 34-01 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103, 718-721-7217

Cavo Café Lounge - A Mediterranean Garden of Eden

One of the most modern and expensive Greek restaurants in Astoria, Cavo looks unassuming from the outside, yet is anything but ordinary inside. Cavo is well-known for its big courtyard garden, and regularly offers entertainment like belly dancing and flamenco.

The dishes have a traditional base but with modern flair. Standouts include pork and chicken souvlakia ($12), baby calamari stuffed with seafood, olives, tomato, and capers ($15), and saganaki (thyme-crusted Greek cheese with Metaxa, $9). That these dishes all happen to be appetizers is no coincidence; Cavo excels in small plates. For dessert, the warm chocolate cake with vanilla gelato ($9) is a must.

  • Cavo Café Lounge, 42-18 31st Ave, Astoria, NY 11103, 718-721-1001

Corner 26 Taverna - Greek Soul Food

This neighborhood taverna is as close to Greece as you'll get. A small shop, seating up to 20 indoors and maybe 15 outdoors, Taverna is homey and personal. There's a hostess and a waitress--and she's the same person, a friendly Grecian matriarch.

The menu is simple and includes traditional Greek basics. Some of the best ones to try are the scordalia (garlic mashed potatoes, $4), the fried whiting (white fish, $10), and, of course, the gyro platter (with Greek salad, giant seasoned steak fries, and homemade tzatziki, $9). Ask about the Greek house wines, which are only $3 per glass and mighty tasty. Bring cash; this place does not accept credit cards.

  • Corner 26 Taverna, 26-02 23rd Ave, Astoria, NY 11105, 718-777-5511

Pinocchio Palace - Unpretentious Food That Doesn't Lie

Offering a mix of Greek and American food, Pinocchio does a good job at satisfying the most fickle palates. Like Taverna, the ambiance is low key and private, but the space is considerably larger. Outdoor seating in the summer makes for fun people-watching on 30th Avenue.

Though most of the menu is Greek, you'll also find Italian and Mexican dishes like crispy calamari ($8), brick oven pizza ($6-$13), and burritos ($6-$7). The pizza is one of the best in the 'hood and makes for good takeout. My favorite Greek specialties include the moussaka (ground lamb, eggplant, with white sauce, $11.50) and the chicken souvlaki platter (with salad, rice, and potatoes, $11.50).

  • Pinocchio Palace, 32-02 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11102, 718-721-9636

More Well-Loved Greek Restaurants in Astoria

Tellys Taverna
Photo (c) John Roleke

For seafood done the Greek way in Astoria, there's a healthy competition between Elias Corner (24-01 31st St, Astoria, 718-932-1510), Telly's Taverna (28-13 23rd Ave, Astoria, 718-728-9056), and Taverna Kyclades (33-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, 718-545-8666), with Kyclades holding the top prize according to some tongues. Pick your fish, and get it grilled whole, flavored with olive oil, lemon, and oregano. Simple and delicious.

Also well-known and recommended are Zenon Taverna (34-10 31st Ave, 718-956-0133) for Greek Cypriot specialties, and Christos Steakhouse (41-08 23rd Ave, Astoria, 718-777-8400), which serves up a fine American steak with plenty of Greek-inspired sides (and has its butcher shop on site).

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