September 2019: We’ve added Meraki (a Greek outing from the guys behind Roka and Zuma), plus Pitta Bun (a fast-casual offshoot of Marylebone’s Opso) and the new White City restaurant from The Athenian street food chain. It’s also time to big-up some of London’s best-loved Hellenic evergreens, including Andy’s Taverna (a Camden fixture for more than 50 years), Aphrodite Taverna and Kalamaras in Bayswater, Retsina in Belsize Park and the Sappho Meze Bar – a dinky, cash-only favourite in Clapham.
While great Greek restaurants in London can still feel as hidden away as the the army inside a Trojan Horse, things have more than come on since The Real Greek’s Hellenic heyday. North London’s still a hotbed for Greek eateries, catering to settlements of cheerful Cypriot and Greek expatriates hungry for souvlaki, kleftiko and gigantes as good as they taste back home. But a new breed of restaurants doing modern Greek small plates, ace riffs on the classics and fab vegetarian dishes abounds across the city. Look below for our list of the capital’s ultimate Greek restaurants.
The best Greek restaurants in London
A charming and homely little Greek taverna off Camden’s main drag, Andy’s is a local classic with more than 50 years of service under its belt. The menu offers a whistle-stop tour of the Aegean at wallet-friendly prices, with a whole heap of mezédes preceding meaty stalwarts, ranging from pork afelia and sheftalia to grills, kebabs and steaks. During the week you can get a three-course lunch for under a tenner – just the ticket if you fancy catching some rays in Andy’s white-walled courtyard.
Statuettes, posters, plates, decorative gourds and colourful fabrics fill very corner of this happy-go-lucky Greek-Cypriot taverna, while clunking bouzouki music adds to the singalong holiday vibe. Set up by a Cypriot chef and his wife in 1988, Aphrodite also pleases the Notting Hill crowd with its generous helpings of Hellenic food. The oven-baked lamb kleftiko and spit-roast chicken are star turns, but the menu is loaded with feel-good classics, from houmous and dolmades to pork sheftalia on rice, moussaka, grilled sea bass and all sorts of kebabs (try the version with beef fillet). There’s Greek pasta (pastitsio) too, along with a decent choice for vegetarians. On warm evenings, you can sit outside on the pavement terrace, quaff some retsina and soak up the local hospitality.
The first proper restaurant from The Athenian street-food chain is a big beast within the creative hub of White City Place, serving its signature souvlaki wraps with salad, homemade sauces, dips and oregano fries alongside a whole host of new ideas. More space means a bigger menu, so also expect bespoke Gyros burgers (made from shavings of marinated meat), courgette fritters, Santorini tomato and herb croquettes with Athenian sauce and dessert ‘treats’ such as flourless brownies. Vegan and gluten-free options sit beside their meaty cousins, and the restaurant also serves breakfast (try the wild boar sausage muffins). To drink, dip into the extended selection of Greek craft beers and regional wines. The Athenian also has café outlets in Victoria and Canary Wharf, plus a stall on Tooting Market and two Boxpark pitches (in Shoreditch and Wembley).
Operating out of a bright space with high ceilings just off Petticoat Lane Market, this all-day Greek eatery is a pleasure in every way. The kitchen keeps things simple but honest, using the best ingredients for a line-up of hot and cold mezédes (try the courgette fritters), souvlaki (wraps or skewers) and self-styled ‘smashing plates’ such as moussaka, a plant-based ‘veganopoulos’ burger and cinnamon-scented beef stifado. Artisan Greek producers rule when it comes to wines and beers.
The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Dusty Springfield, Aristotelis ‘Telly’ Savalas and Peter Sellers all frequented this evergreen Greek taverna back in the day (or so we’re told) and Kalamaras remains a beloved fixture of the Bayswater scene even now. There are no surprises on the menu, so lap up the nostalgic comfort of taramasalata and tzatziki before chomping your way through big plates of kleftiko, Athenian moussaka and souvlaki. Dessert means sticky pastries, and there’s a list of all-Greek wines to lubricate the mind and body.
Celebrating its 40th birthday in 2019, this family-run Primrose Hill joint is everything you want from a neighbourhood Greek taverna. The vine-clad dining room is abuzz with garrulous chatter, boozy toasts and local gossip, with the odd famous face adding some extra glitz to proceedings, while the kitchen serves up traditional Hellenic sunshine in the shape of vast mezédes, charcoal grills, stews and other classics. There are also some great-value weekday lunch specials, plus a terrific selection of Greek-Cypriot wines.
Like its self-proclaimed ‘Deli Divine’ in Bloomsbury, the Soho branch of The Life Goddess (dubbed ‘Experimental Divine’) isn’t your average Greek taverna. The cooking is smart, modern and decidedly non-touristy, so banish all thoughts of lurid pink taramasalata and plate-smashing. Instead, look to the menu for the likes of slow-cooked octopus with a fava bean spread and homemade jam or marinated pork in red wine, honey and orange with bulgur wheat. Bonus points for the weekend brunch and admirable all-Greek wine list.
The Hellenic heroes at this stylish gaff are in the business of reinterpreting the Greek classics to an impressive effect. Flavours may be reassuringly authentic, but the presentation is progressive – note the meze served in Kilner jars, the hot plates of feta tempura with lemon marmalade and caper meringue or the loukoumades (bite-sized doughnuts) with lavender honey, crushed walnuts and chocolate sorbet. Even the good old Greek salad is pimped up with dinky barley rusks. We’re not in Kavos anymore, Toto.
The Waney family is renowned for Asian hotspots such as Roka and Zuma, but they’ve gone all Greek on us with this smart, spacious and sophisticated Fitzrovia restaurant. Meraki takes the sun-drenched flavours of the Aegean and serves them up to business folk, tourists and shoppers wanting to escape Oxford Street’s bedlam. The menu is stuffed with luxurious flavour combos, but nothing beats the wooden trays loaded with mezédes – we can’t get enough of the insanely good kopanisti (barrel-aged feta dip with Florina peppers).
Venue says In October, you are welcome to join us on a Mediterranean Odyssey at Meraki Bar for the new exciting Greek God inspired cocktail menu.
A modern Greek eatery that doubles as a café, weekend brunch spot, wine bar and bakery, Opso serves contemporary mezédes and Hellenic classics in a stripped-back setting of bare wood, dangling lights and matrix-like metal gantries. Its small plates are pimped-up concoctions such as a Greek salad ceviche or metsovone croquettes (smoked fried cheese with rhubarb jam), while mains could be as traditional as moussaka. There’s a feta bar too, as well as an array of starry home-baked cakes and pastries.
Originally a pan-Balkan pop-up, this spruced-up joint is now a gastronomic gem on the not-so-lovely Consort Road. ‘Eastern Mediterranean charcoal-grilled goodness’ is the promise, and Hellenic dishes figure prominently – from pork and beef keftedes (meatballs) with roasted tomatoes and Cyprus potatoes to grilled lamb leg with coco beans plaki, Charleston peppers and ktipiti (whipped feta dip). The smoky aromas of the chargrill bring an instant feel-good holiday vibe to tables on the summertime terrace, as do the quirky but rewarding Greek wines.
A fast-casual street food cousin of Marylebone’s Opso, this Soho spot doubles up as a takeaway and a proper all-day restaurant. Whether you’re on the go or sitting down, the menu is all about savoury and sweet pitta buns (surprise, surprise!). All-day fixtures range from souvlaki, vegan ‘greecamole’ and panko-crusted fish with beets to apple crumble and ‘choco’ (Nutella, gaufrette and hazelnuts). Various ‘open’ buns are available from 5pm onwards, and a roast lamb special is there for those who missed out on Sunday lunch.
Next door to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, this branch of the Real Greek chain conjures up holiday memories for the hordes of tourists who swarm the South Bank. The food is indigenous Greek, rather than Greek-Cypriot, with fluffy flatbread offered instead of pitta, and sharing feasts named after the home country’s provinces. The menu is dominated by hot and cold mézedes (great with a bottle of Mythos beer), but you can also expect souvlaki wraps, salads and a few extras. There are currently 16 outlets in London, from Muswell Hill to Dulwich.
A world away from your standard image of a rough-hewn whitewashed Greek taverna (with rustic knick-knacks and plate-smashing included), this long-serving Hampstead restaurant looks a cut above the rest with its elegant, light and airy interior, creamy walls, heavily clothed tables and smartly dressed clientele. Share one of the multi-plate meze feasts with your mates or dates; otherwise, take a trip through the carte, moving from grilled sardines and avgolemono soup to Greek lamb casserole, moussaka or grilled octopus, with baklava and kadeifi pastries for afters.
Next to Clapham North station, this cramped family-run eatery deals in Greek and Med-inspired plates at knockdown prices. The interior is nothing to write home about, but you’re here for the great-value food and the personal vibe. Simply choose a meat, vegetarian or vegan feast, with assorted meze and warm bread to kick things off. Then comes a choice of full-sized dishes (beef stifado, moussaka etc.), and at the end the chef/owner will bring you some homemade yoghurt and honey. Cash only.
Sister to the Soho original, this dinky dining room brings a fun-loving Hellenic vibe to Brick Lane with its smiley stuff, buzzy conversation and shots of ouzo. The meat for their souvlaki wraps is threaded on site every day, then cooked over top-quality charcoal on a robata-style grill. The short menu also features plenty of surprises – from octopus with fava beans and rock samphire to pulled pork kritharaki with orzo and oregano, plus local wines and craft beers from Greek micro-breweries.