The name Philadelphia comes from the Greek words phileo, meaning love, and adelphos, meaning brother. Hence, “the City of Brotherly Love.” With Greek literally infused in the city’s name and a longstanding population of Hellenic residents in the region, it makes sense that Philly is home to great Greek restaurants. Most of these places are BYO, so pick up a bottle of smooth Retsina and order some zesty Greek food.Read More
13 Essential Greek Restaurants in Philadelphia
Where to go for spanakopita, dolmades, and gyros stuffed with fries
After a refresh, Greek seafood specialist Dmitri’s is back up and running in Northern Liberties with a menu of spanakopita, grilled octopus, shrimp pil pil, and crispy lamb. It’s BYOB and doesn’t take credit cards or reservations. (The original Dmitri’s in Queen Village is closed permanently.)
The Kravvaritis family has been in the restaurant business for decades, starting with a tavern in Thessaloniki, Greece. Part of the family moved to Philadelphia in 1997 and opened Zorba’s, which became a Fairmount mainstay for its authentic Greek food. The small BYOB sits in the shadow of the Art Museum and directly across the street from Eastern State Penitentiary. The menu is full of all the classics, including lots of lamb, charcoal-grilled souvlaki, and dips with fresh pita. Vegetarians especially enjoy Zorba’s meatless dishes, including imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant) and anginares à la polita (artichoke hearts and potatoes in dill sauce).
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Moustaki Authentic Gyros
This casual corner spot near Logan Square has the gyros promised in its name, along with roasted lemon potatoes, zucchini and eggplant “fries” with tzatziki, souvlaki served in pitas or on a platter, and pizzas.
Inside the iconic Reading Terminal Market, Olympia has been serving Greek fare for almost 40 years. Find a seat at the counter or order a takeout feast of stuffed grape leaves, Greek salad, spanakopita, gyro sandwiches with sliced-to-order beef and lamb, and sweet, sticky baklava.
South Street Souvlaki
South Street’s iconic blue-and-white building with takeout windows facing the street has been going strong for more than four decades. Owner Tom Vasiliades serves Greek and Mediterranean fare to hungry crowds traversing Philly’s weirdest street. At the takeout window, try a souvlaki or gyro sandwich — both come on pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki. When dining in, kick the meal off with saganaki: Greek kasseri cheese that’s doused in brandy and set on fire.
There’s always a crowd at Kanella Grill in Washington Square West. Couples out on date night and large, loud groups alike come for chef Konstantinos Pitsillides’ Greek and Cypriot fare. There’s often a wait on weekends, but it’s worth it for perfectly seasoned kebabs in fresh pita with pickled veggies, hummus, salad, and fries. Try the halloumi — tangy grilled cheese that doesn’t melt when heated, served in a toasted pita. Buy beer a few doors down at the Foodery or bring a bottle of wine to this BYOB.
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Sweet little neighborhood spot Effie’s adds Greek-infused charm to the already-picturesque Antique Row. A hidden garden seating area in the back features a cherry wood stove to keep it comfy in cooler months. The BYOB’s menu ranges from sandwiches with fries to a whole fish special. Avgolemono is a nice way to start a meal and galaktoboureko — a delicate custard pie baked in phyllo — is a great way to end it.
Estia (multiple locations)
The fanciest restaurant on this list, Estia is also the most centrally located. The spacious restaurant, set just a few blocks from City Hall, is especially popular with the pre-theater crowd thanks to its $35 prix fixe menu that offers three courses of classic Greek dishes, including grilled octopus, dips with pita, moussaka (a casserole with layers of ground beef, sliced eggplant and potatoes, topped with béchamel), souvlaki, and, for dessert, baklava. There are sister spots in Radnor and South Jersey.
A fast-casual newcomer to South Street, Yeeroh sells — guess what? — gyros. Lamb and chicken are where it’s at. Sandwiches come with fries inside them and for a few extra bucks, upgrade to a platter because it comes with enough food for leftovers. Takeout is popular here and the menu is highly customizable with add-ins like spicy feta and roasted red peppers.
Every college campus should have a casual Greek place for fresh gyros and stuffed grape leaves. Since 1982, Greek Lady on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus has been University City’s. Conveniently open until 11 p.m., it’s a good spot for takeout before a late-night study session.
Yiro Yiro (multiple locations)
With locations in Roxborough and University City, Yiro Yiro simplifies gyro ordering with a customizable menu of fillings — slow-roasted pork belly is a must-try — and sauces. Two sets of Greek brothers opened the fast-casual restaurants to bring their beloved gyros to the masses.
Yia It's All Greek to Me
For a quick and delicious Greek meal, Yia fits the bill. This fast-casual spot in Media features an open kitchen where diners can watch their gyros, souvlaki, and Greek salads get made. The sandwiches are served on soft pitas and spanakopita is a house specialty.
This casual Lansdale BYOB is run by a couple from the Greek island of Corfu — owner Amelia is known for congratulating diners who clean their plates. Expect dinner to be served at an authentic Greek pace, meaning it’s wise to budget in two hours for a meal that features lamb and chicken gyros, octopus, Greek salad, thin-sliced Greek fries, pastitso (a traditional dish with layers of ground lamb, pasta, and béchamel sauce), and a speciality not often seen in Philly restaurants: gigantes plaki — baked giant fava beans in a tomato-dill sauce. It’s not a bad idea to book in advance.