Welcome to the first installment of the WLDC Ethnic Food Survey. The idea here is not to provide you with an exhaustive list of your ethnic food options, but to give you a brief overview of what we feel are your best bets for any particular type of regional cuisine in the city. Doubtless, there will be outrage from you at the glaring omissions in these articles, but we’ll do the best we can.
This time around, I’ll be giving you a tour of the wide world of Greek cooking. Greek food is widely available, albeit generally poorly executed. You can get a mediocre gyro just about anywhere, but once you visit a proper, Greek establishment, your eyes will be opened to the awe that is Hellenic cuisine. Here are my favorites in DC:
Greek Deli and Catering
1120 19th St. NW
Greek Deli has, without question or exception, the best Greek food in the District. It’s the kind of place that you could walk by every day and, were it not for the line stretching down the block, never notice. The restaurant is owned by Kostas Fostieris who, according to reports, arrives every morning at 3am to begin cooking and baking. The time and attention that he pours into his food pays off in spades when the lunch hour arrives. His meats are always fall off the bone tender, his breads are fresh and warm, and his sauces are balanced and flavorful. Fostieris offers the staple Greek foods, like gyros and souvlaki, but in my opinion, his platters are where it’s at. He tends towards the lemony cream sauces and piles your to-go box full of meat, rice, vegetables and a thick slice of his signature bread (go on Wednesday for the meatball special). To top it off, you pay $10 or less for a meal that could feed three of you. The authenticity of Greek Deli’s flavors and the love that Fosieris puts into his food make this spot one of my favorite restaurants in the city.
The Greek Spot
2017 11th St., NW
The aptly named Greek Spot is right off of U St., making its offerings prime, post-drinking fare. Don’t take this to mean that you need to be drunk to enjoy it, though. Greek Spot offers some of the best Gyro’s in the city, rivaling Greek Deli’s. It’s definitely a hole in the wall, with that slightly gaudy decorative style that epitomizes Greek restaurants, but boy can it put up. The lamb gyro at the Spot is excellent and the tzatziki sauce (not normally something I get excited about) is world class. Top it off with a helping of feta, and you’ve got a top notch sandwich. Admittedly, this place is a fairly recent discovery for me, so I’m operating off a very limited knowledge of their menu. I’ll tell you that I hear that the veggie gyro is to die for, though. My quip is that fools eat vegetables when lamb is available.
527 8th St., SE
Cava Mezze is your medium priced, classier, Greek alternative. Mezze is the Mediterranean variation on tapas. It’s got slightly larger servings than its Spanish cousin, but it still consists of small plates that are designed to be shared with others at the table. I’ve had mezze at a few other places and, from what I can tell, Cava does it right. Their dishes are always nicely plated, well seasoned and typically cooked with skill. I’ve been particularly impressed by their lamb, be it roasted, grilled or ground. Cava always seems to have the best cuts and the chefs know how to cook the meat. My one gripe is that their seafood is hit or miss. They tend to overcook it. This is a small blight on an otherwise excellent establishment. If you need a good place to eat on Capitol Hill, or if you’re looking for an interesting date spot, I’d highly recommend Cava.
Komi and Zaytinya: I’m a poor bachelor. I don’t really have the cash to drop $50 on a meal. Come back in a few years, and maybe I’ll add these spots to the list.
Astor Mediterranean: I know I’m going to catch some heat for this one, but please understand that Adam’s Morgan is just not my ‘hood. I’ve simply not made it to Astor, yet.
That place you think is Greek but is actually Lebanese or Syrian or Turkish.
So, there you have it. It’s not exhaustive, so I’d ask you, dear reader, to contribute your favorite Greek restaurants to our list. Or to complain at me for all the glaring errors that you see.