Where to Find Authentic Greek Food in Chicago



Thanks to Chicago's large Greek community, the city offers plenty of appealing Greek food. Most of the best Greek restaurants are family run and have been around for decades. Greek Islands,  for example, has been entertaining taste buds since 1971. A good number are centered along the gentrified Greektown neighborhood, on Halsted Street, just west of downtown and not too far from United Center. The couple of city blocks are lined with colorful Greek restaurants, fast-food gyros joints, and family-run Greek bakeries serving impossible-to-pronounce but absolutely delicious homemade pastries. If you're having lunch, stop at the National Hellenic Museum for a shot of history. When you're on the North Shore, Avli Estiatorio  is your Greek archipelago and Wicker Park claims Taxim,  with an all-Greek wine list and a menu that delights lamb lovers as well as vegans. 

Greeks, like most Europeans, like to take time to enjoy food and wine, so don't rush - enjoy the Greek music and decor, soak up the Mediterranean ambiance, savor the spectacular food, and order another glass of Greek wine or shot of ouzo. Whether you're craving baklava, fresh olives and feta cheese, or tender lamb chops with Greek spices, count on us to point you toward the Mediterranean via the Windy City. 



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Ukranian Village


 

Owners of the new Six06 Cafe Bar aim to have the food, drinks, music and ambiance replicate the cafe experience in Athens. The family owned and operated venue offers Greek beers and wines plus coffee drinks; traditional Greek items like kabobs and pita sandwiches; well made American items like burgers and a Club sandwich; plus some European choices such as Croque Madame. Make like a European and stop in for a coffee and pastry earlier in the day. Brunch brings dishes like baked avocado and citrus waffles to the carte du jour. DJs play chill, funk, disco, and house music every Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday during brunch. For a real taste of the isles, pencil in a visit on the last Friday of every month for live Greek music. The sidewalk patio is open in the warmer months, and the new rooftop opens mid-July, 2018.


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Athenian Room is a Lincoln Park/DePaul favorite that usually has a wait but tables turn over speedily and it may be the best take-out in the neighborhood. Even though it has been tossing Greek salads for 38 years, the line has lengthened since Tina Fey recently recommended it to David Letterman on his Netflix show. Warm weather opens the patio for additional seating. Locals adore the affordability (half chicken, salad and fries for $12), authentic flavors and substantial portions at the casual, family-friendly spot. Favorites include cool tzatziki sauce, Athenian chicken, Greek char burger on pita with feta cheese and the Athenian steak which some prefer over what is served at high end steakhouses.


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Family-owned Psistaria Greek Taverna showcases traditional Greek cuisine. The roster of hot and cold appetizers is enormous (a la the Mediterranean tradition of mezes) so it's fun to make a meal out of any array of lively Greek flavors: broiled quails; homemade beef and lamb meatballs; a flight of spreads; mini kabobs; various vegetable dishes like stuffed peppers; olives and cheeses - OPA! Soups are made from scratch every day and interesting sizable salads include Nick;s Special: Greek sardines, sliced vine tomatoes, Kefalogaviera cheese, olives and fresh oregano with olive oil & vinegar. Gluten-free items (and there are quite a few) are marked. Psistaria offers a create-you-own platter of traditional dishes, lots of seafood selections, skewered meats and sides but don't overlook Greek pasta, either. Paradosiaki Macaronada, for example, is thick Greek noodles with burnt butter and grated Greek cheese and the Greeks' version of Bolognese sauce is addicting.


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Santorini


 

Santorini is one of the Greek islands, so seafood is the specialty at this Chicago restaurant which prepares fresh seafood to order. Choose among ocean fish, shellfish, fresh water morsels or combination plates. Shrimp Santorini is the Greek version of scampi - butterfied extra large shrimp baked in butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Keep vampires at bay with traditional Greek baccalo pan-fried and served with Santorini's garlic sauce. Wild snapper and sea bass are served whole. The kitchen knows its way around meat, too, with young lamb barbecued "in the authentic Greek way" a standout. The cozy interior has white and blue decor reminiscent of island of Santorini and there's also a wood-burning fireplace that sets an especially accommodating mood during cooler months.


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The restaurant is dedicated to the city of Athens which has been around for some four millennia. Athena has been flaming saganaki since 1997. A glass atrium and summer patio sets this Greek restaurant apart from the rest in Greektown. The outdoor space is a three-tiered structure that features brick walkways, 30-foot trees, colorful flowers and a waterfall. Launch with sliced zucchini lightly breaded and fried, served with garicky skordalia spread; charred octopus; or spicy meatballs. The menu features classic Greek dishes, including braised lamb, dolmades, lemon egg-drop soup, gyros, moussaka and half-chicken baked with potatoes, olive oil, lemon and oregano. Seafood, charbroiled kabobs and a combo plate of moussaka, pastitsio, dolmades, leg of lamb, rice, potato and vegetables don't disappoint. There's free valet parking for Athena diners!


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Greek Islands has been entertaining taste buds since 1971. Greek cuisine fans appreciate the festive atmosphere and professional waitstaff. It's all here from creamy egg-lemon Avgolemono soup and saganaki to traditional dishes like dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice), comforting moussaka (baked eggplant, ground meat and potato casserole topped with béchamel sauce which can also be prepared for vegetarians) and lamb kokkinisto braised in a special tomato sauce. If seafood is more your style, know that Greeks have been grilling octopus long before your local gastropub glommed onto it. Try crispy fried smelts sprinkled with oregano or whole fresh Mediterranean sea bass or lavraki, The décor is serene, in the traditional white and blue colors of the real Greek Islands.


4
Cross-Rhodes


 

Cross-Rhodes is in downtown Evanston serving reasonable priced, tasty Greek fare. For what you'd pay for appetizers in Greektown, you can have a sizeable entree here but do try the appetizers like hummus and feta with olives. Choose among a roster of salads that you can top with feta, souvlaki, chicken and more for a nice protein punch. Two fisted sandwiches include gyros, pork souvlaki and a Rhodes burger - half pound burger with your choice of cheese and gyros slices on top. For $11.75, you can get one of the most popular Greek dishes, souvlaki. It's two skewers of marinated meat (marinated pork tenderloin, free range chicken breast or a combination), rice or fries, pita bread, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. Pair it with a glass of red Roditis or white Retsina wine for $6.


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A modern loft-style space with an open-air kitchen, Artopolis prides itself on producing all of its fresh baked goods in house. The cafe's name comes from a combination of the words "artos" and "polis" (bread and town, respectively), and the menu features a variety of breads, wood-fired pizzas, signature sandwiches, fresh salads, and some classic Greek dishes. Explore the exclusive line of Greek wines offered in-house or to take home. The dessert menu includes specialty coffees, organic teas, and artfully decorated cakes and pastries, which can include special candles for Greek Christmas and Easter. Some of the signature pastries include Valrhona chocolate mousse, carrot cake and hazelnut praline but there are also tarts and traditional Greek sweets.


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While you can get pizza and tacos practically anywhere, there are specific dishes you can get ONLY at a Greek eatery: tart Avgolemono soup; salty taramosalata to slather of fresh bread (and oh, that Greek bread); saganaki; and spanakopitakia. If you're on the North Shore, Avli Estiatorio is your Greek archipelago. With so much produced in-house (sauces, marinades, stocks, desserts and even gyros), you would assume correctly that the food at Avli Estiatorio is outstanding. Have a glass of Greek wine while perusing the extensive menu to decide if you're ging to make a meal out of the list of meze (dolmades, saganaki, tomato fritters with yogurt-dill sauce, grilled artichokes with capers, Greek meatballs, and more) or you'll share a huge dinner salad and attack an entree like moussaka, kabobs, seafood or Avli's homemade gyros. Desserts are equally intriguing: Greek cheesecake or yogurt mousse with fig syrup, among the tempting.


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A beautiful, romantic restaurant, Taxim serves upscale modern Mediterranean cuisine and has become a favorite eatery on the North side. A breath of Mediterranean air among the taco, PBR and ramen ranches in Wicker Park, Taxim takes Greek fare up more than a notch. Try the taramasalata (house-cured roe, lemon and garlic) thickly smeared on house-made pita and you'll know you'll make a return visit. Under "pastry" deliberate over flatbread covered in foraged wild mushrooms, rosemary, vlahotyri, egg and garlic butter or leeks, fresh dill, lemon and goat feta stuffed in house-made phyllo. It just gets better from there with pan-cooked, cured and wood-grilled small plates and inspired main dishes like "fish gyro" - spit-roasted sea bream. Service is seamless. Surprise your date with a night at Taxim especially on the rooftop sharing mezzes, a bottle of Greek wine and spirits like raki.


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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky

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