The 7 Best Greek Restaurants in London
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
There was once a time when ordering Greek food in a London restaurant meant circumnavigating plates of crusted pink taramasalata with a floppy pitta. We always had such high hopes for these meals, imagining ourselves lolling under sun-soaked vines, swinging our sandalled feet and picking at plates of shiny olives. Yes, in London. Oh, stop rolling your eyes.
Hang on, though, because that was actually the crux of the problem. London isn’t a Greek island, no matter how much we wish it was. You’ll find that plates of mediocre meze taste a lot better when swiped at while overlooking a 45-minute sunset, your back still stinging from a day in the sun.
Oh, how times have changed. The early Greek restaurants in London were set up by Greek Cypriot immigrants and although they have their charm, they also have identikit menus. Really decent Greek food, served outside of a mock-up taverna, is something that has only really developed in recent years, and we’re very glad to be around to benefit from this revolution.
From souvlaki to saganaki, then, here’s the best of London’s Greek cuisine.
Hovarda, an Aegean restaurant just opened in Soho, comes from the team behind the excellent Turkish restaurant Yosma. Hus Vedat once again heads up the kitchen with a really exciting menu including dishes like grilled eel, served with fava beans and caper leaves, and kleftiko, a slow-roasted lamb dish served with lamb fat potatoes and oregano.
It’s a really swish affair, too, with a lot of glittering green tiles and covetable surfaces in general. Not a single fake vine leaf in sight.
Hovarda, 36-40 Rupert Street, W1D 6DW
This cosy restaurant on the Peckham/Nunhead borders is concerned with Balkan flavours, which means that many Greek dishes and influences find their way onto the menu. Chef John Gionleka cooks over a custom-built charcoal grill at the front of the restaurant, serving dishes including grilled cuttlefish, which comes with some of the best tarama you’re ever likely to taste. Forget the flamingo pink renditions – this is the real deal.
Peckham Bazaar, 119 Consort Road, SE15 3RU
I Should Be Souvlaki
For a while, London went mad for souvlaki. The name for this street snack, ubiquitous in Athens, comes from the medieval Greek for skewer and it’s basically grilled meat in a pitta bread with sauces and salads. Sounds like a kebab? Well, kinda, but you should think of it as daintier and more of a quick snack on the run than a late night booze sponge (although it does do that job rather nicely, too).
What’s fun about I Should Be Souvlaki is that they make their wraps in the more modern style, which is to say they put chips inside. This, apparently, is what all the kids do in Athens nowadays.
I Should Be Souvlaki, Green Rooms, 13-27 Station Road, N22 6UW
The Greek Larder
Theodore Kyriakou started the chain The Real Greek, but don’t hold that against him – there was a point when it was actually dedicated to serving proper Greek food, and he sold it on long ago. Now, he runs The Greek Larder in King’s Cross, where he’s very much into making his own charcuterie, and will talk to you for hours about the best way to make certain Greek dishes. We actually love his souvlaki, which change to include different ingredients depending on the seasons. Oh, and they do a fantastic breakfast/brunch.
He’s also responsible for a rather lovely wine list, which we think is the benchmark Greek wine list in London. It manages the difficult feat of being comprehensive without having any filler, and it covers all the indigenous Greek grape varieties (of which there are many) with some nicely thought-out flights, a great selection by the glass and very accessible margins on the slightly more expensive stuff. In fact, it’s one of our favourite London wine lists overall.
The Greek Larder, ArtHouse, 1 York Way, King’s Cross, N1C 4AS
The Grilling Greek
These guys claim to be London’s original Greek food truck and we’re including them here thanks to our unhealthy addiction to their chips, which come topped with feta, lemon zest and oregano. Sounds really simple? Yeah, it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant. The feta goes slightly melty thanks to the heat from the chips, which sounds weird but will make you see feta in a different light. We tend not to heat the cheese in this country but the Greeks have no such worries, slinging it into saganaki, pies, and now onto one of our greatest comfort foods.
The Grilling Greek, various locations
The Life Goddess
The Life Goddess are like The Greek Larder in that they’re part deli, part restaurant. It’s run by two brothers who were motivated to open it in 2012 as they were frustrated that so many delis focused on other European foods.
If you’re in the market for some Greek wine to take home then there’s a vast selection here, along with lots of dishes prepared in a very traditional style.
The Life Goddess, 29 Store Street, WC1E 7BS
Souvlaki Street are currently trading at no fewer than seven markets around London, sizzling their pork, chicken and halloumi souvlaki. What we’re interested in however, is the double souvlaki, which is two skewers of meat, plus four slices of halloumi and their signature salad, pita and tzatziki sauce. Sofa and pillow sadly not provided.
Souvlaki Street, various locations