In the gastronomic galaxy, Philadelphia has a good number of great Greek restaurants. Most are simple and stylish BYOBs, but a few have swanky Athenian atmospheres and extensive wine lists. From traditional fare like gyros and moussaka to new and exciting signature dishes from top Greek chefs, Philly has a Greek restaurant for all tastes and budgets. Here are the top places to enjoy star-quality Grecian cuisine in the birthplace of America.
1127 Pine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Effie’s inviting exterior, a charming brick building with a blue awning and shutters, sets the mood at this BYOB Washington Square fixture. The main dining room is small and cozy, while the patio seating is romantic and intimate. Open daily for dinner, Effie’s offers standout appetizers, soups and salads, including scrumptious hummus, chicken lemon rice soup and grilled octopus salad. Of course, with authentic Greek entrees like lamb souvlaki, paidakia, moussaka and loukanika, you know Effie’s gets two thumbs up.
1405-07 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
If you’re looking for an authentic Greek lunch or dinner near the theater district, Estia is the place to go. The upscale restaurant’s aim is to transport diners to the Greek islands with fantastic aromas and dishes representing the best in ethnic cuisine. Stunning decor and a wine list with more than 300 selections are secondary to the eatery’s specialty – fresh fish flown in from the Mediterranean and cooked to perfection over an open kitchen charcoal grill. The sea bass and octopus are local favorites, as are the Estia chips, fried zucchini and eggplant crisps served with tzatziki. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the lamb shanks and moussaka, but leave room for dessert. The baklava and karidopita are well worth your potentially expanding waistline.
1001 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Exposed brick walls, simple decor and perfect lighting makes for a cozy atmosphere inside this popular BYOB run by Greek Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and, in fact, was ranked one of the best 59 breakfast places in America by Esquire Magazine in 2009. Try the Cyprus breakfast, an extraordinary plate of eggs fried in olive oil, lounza, halloumi and bread. Exciting flavors emanate from every dish, from the chef’s signature appetizer manti made with ground lamb dumplings with yogurt sauce, paprika, parsley and mint to his braised rabbit leg with fregula pasta, asparagus and roasted pearl onions.
110 Cotton St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
Its exterior may look unassuming, but step inside and you’re greeted with a wall of chalkboards listing a full menu of enticing Greek dishes. Although there’s a back lounge area and outside tables, Smiley’s is more of a budget-friendly order, grab-and-go kind of place. Gyros cost just $7, and pitas are only $6. Meat and veggie platters are available, but make sure you try the hummus and the homemade baklava. They are out of this world!
2230 Fairmount Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Run by a father-and-son team, this family-owned BYOB has some of the best, reasonably priced, authentic Greek food in Philly. The waitress will start you off with a crusty loaf of home-baked bread to dip in olive oil. Then you can order juicy and tender grilled octopus, roasted leg of lamb or any number of delicious authentic Greek dishes. Generous portions of standard fare, such as hummus, dolmades, gyros and soutzoukakia, will leave your taste buds buzzing, and desserts, like revani, kantaifi and baklava, will make you a true believer.
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.