Astoria Queens is the epicenter of Greek food in New York, with the hallmark dish being the specialty grilled fish. Every local has their favorite grill, but in my opinion (and judging by the lines, the opinion of many others) Taverna Kyclades trumps all.
For those Manhattanites that fear the journey to the outer boroughs, no worries. Getting to Taverna Kyclades is relatively convenient. Located on Ditmars and 33rd Street, the grill house is located an easy two blocks from the N/Q subway train stop. The trek from the heart of Manhattan to the heart of Astoria and Greek food heaven is a mere 15 minutes.
Getting to the restaurant may be easy, but getting table is a whole other story. Patrons are seated on a first come, first serve basis. This my friends means the lines are long. Waits for a table can reach 3 hours during prime times. It’s best to arrive at Kyclades early- an hour or so before you anticipate hunger. Once you put your name on the list, you’ll stand in the entrance way with everyone else, anxiously waiting for your name to be called. On the bright side, they pass out free wine and the servers try their best to keep you entertained. If you can, avoid the weekends and come mid week- though an early Sunday supper here is a divine way to wrap up the weekend. This past Sunday, I decided to do just that. With my friends Morgan, Camilo and Dave in tow we headed out to Queens in what has become our tradition every time they come down to visit.
Though the wait to sit may be long, the wait to eat is thankfully not. Once seated food comes flying out of the kitchen in an attempt of the restaurant to get you fed and out. The reason one waits at Kyclades is to experience the juicy grilled fish, however, the appetizers and sides are well worth it in their own right. The complimentary galaktoboureko custard given for dessert is also a nice little touch.
Ultimately though, the star dish is the fish. The offerings of fish depend on what’s fresh but on any given night you can pretty much count on Snapper, Branzino and Dorado being available, the latter my all time favorite. If you can’t take down a whole big guy, swordfish steaks, scallops, and delish Mediterranean mullets are also generally available. Simply broiled and grilled with lemon, oil and oregano the majority of fish are served whole. For those not keen on working to eat their food, the option to have the fish de-boned is available. I prefer to do it myself, it’s part of the fun.
Full to the brim and $179 later we were ready to leave, another successful Sunday supper in the books.
Taverna Kyclades, 33-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, Queens, 718-545-8666, Mon- Thurs 12- 11PM, Fri- Sat 12- 11:30PM, Sun 12- 10:30PM