New York City: Astoria

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Queens is the 2nd most populated borough in New York City after Brooklyn. It’s by far, the most culturally diverse and the choices of restaurants reflect that diversity. The Astoria neighborhood has a wide range of cultures from Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. A good portion of the population is Greek so whenever we find ourselves in Astoria, we think about Greek food.

We’ve never been to Greece but we absolutely love all the food we’ve eaten around the Mediterranean. Greece isn’t much different when it comes to the seafood. Simply prepared fish that’s grilled or broiled with a little salt, olive oil, and maybe a little lemon. Perfection.

On this visit, we went to Bahari Estiatorio ( 31-14 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106). From the window, you see several types of fresh fish on ice ready to be grilled. When you walk in, another display with steaks and chops of beef, lamb, and pork. Keep walking and you’ll see trays with stuffed cabbage, tomato and pepper, Mousaka, and Pastitsio in an open kitchen. Once seated, the menu lays out other options like traditional Greek dishes. The restaurant is casual and perfect for families with young children.

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It literally took us only a few minutes to decide what to order. We started out with sharing Saganaki, pan-seared Kefalograviera cheese. Growing up in the Detroit area, we used to frequent an area downtown called Greektown. The Saganaki that I remember eating as a child would arrive at the table on a sizzling on a cast iron platter that they would light on fire with the obligatory “Opa!” You won’t find the same showmanship here but the flavors are similar.

Next up, we ordered the whole grilled Tsipoura (also known as Dorado) and Arni Kokkinisto, braised lamb in tomato sauce. With sides of rice and okra (There are no words to describe how good the okra was) , our lunch was just perfect and Gianluca was happy with his fish and rice.

Another option, which is our usual spot, is Taverna Kyclades (33-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105). It’s one of our favorite restaurants but it’s always busy and almost always has a long wait. Unfortunately, that doesn’t typically work with a hungry child (or adult) so its best to have a back up plan. They also have a restaurant in the East Village (228 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009) but we prefer to go to the original.

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If you plan a trip to Astoria, have lunch and then check out one of these places:

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