You may think you haven’t tried much Greek food in your life, but it’s a cuisines that is so influential, you probably don’t even realise how often you’ve had it! We’ve all had some sort of Greek food in the past and it tends to be so underrated and barely ever mentioned. Don’t believe us? Well, did you know that the feta cheese you crumble on top of your salad was actually Greek? Yup, so take a seat and read the list of Auckland’s best Greek restaurants.
Auckland hasn’t been quick to jump on the Greek food trend, but Gerome located in Parnell and Devonport’s Nicoino’s are absolute gems that we’re blessed to have as they serve up tasty and authentic traditional Greek dishes. Let us tell you more.
Head to the beautiful suburb of Parnell to find Gerome. Naturally, the interior design has elements of Greece as well as music to go with the vibe. The colour scheme of deep blues, vivid greys and pure whites make the restaurant have class and stays true to the palette of Greece that we are all so familiar with.
Now let’s start talking food. You can really tell how good a Greek restaurant is by tasting their dips like the hummus and the tzakziki. And, Gerome has it down when it comes to flavour and authenticity. The hummus starter dish is complimented with the tastiest olives and buttermilk pita bread. Gerome is also one of the very few restaurants we know of that serve the Greek cheese – kefalograviera, a mix of sheep and goats milk. The aroma-rich and salty cheese is served at Gerome with peppered figs and northland honey, a perfect Greek way to start your meal.
Gerome’s meats are infused with a smoky, charcoal flavour with depth. Gerome whip up the freshest salads that can be used to cleanse your palate in between different meats and dips and cuts through the smoky flavours. For mains, the stand out dish is the slow-cooked lamb. It’s succulent, tender, moist and of course tastes delicious. The tahini sauce that comes with the lamb elevates the experience, making it even richer and creamier. Another popular dish is the burnt eggplant—perfect for vegetarians. The bitterness from the eggplant is balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the fresh pomegranate.
But it doesn’t stop there! You gotta make sure to save room for dessert as these guys are the only ones we know of that serve up traditional Greek loukoumades. For all of you who don’t know what these babies are, they are basically fried balls drenched in syrup, a traditional Greek dessert which is to die for. The fried balls themselves aren’t too sweet which is why the vanilla ice-cream is there.
Located in beautiful Devonport, Nicolino has been serving up Greek and Mediterranean food for more than ten years now. They do the classic dishes such as the Greek salad and a variety of dips from tzatziki to hummus. However, what makes Nicolino a bit of a stand out from all the other Greek-inspired restaurants is the Greek Souvlaki. Lamb and chicken skewers that have a charcoal flavour served with a hearty serving of crispy roast potatoes. Nicolino also does a killer job with halloumi cheese and cook it to perfection along with fresh tomato and lemon and herb oil to enhance the flavour.
Seafood is a large part of Greek cuisine and Nicolino’s menu. They cook up the ocean to make everything as flavourful as possible and put their own twist on things to make it even more special. Why have plain scallop skewers when you could have Nicolino’s scallops wrapped in bacon? The Greek Filo Pastry is a combination of all the traditional Greek flavours of feta cheese, mint and sundried tomato, something we’re all familiar with so no need to be scared, give it a try because we can guarantee that it’s amazing.
Nicolino’s shows how capable Greek cuisine is at making vegetables taste good. They serve up the traditional Greek dish Gemista which means ‘filled with’. Oven roasted capsicums with fragrant rice and juicy mince, complimented with the traditional Greek tzatziki and dolmades—a family of vegetables and grape leaves. You don’t need any adults to tell you to eat your veggies because you’ll be doing it all by yourself without even realizing.
Now we’re getting in to the controversial part of Greek cuisine. The holy baklava. Is it Turkish or Greek? It’s an argument that will never come to an end but what we can say for sure is that Nicolino’s baklava is sweet with crispy top layers and gets richer and more decadent as you reach the base of the pastry.
If you want a taste of Greek food but you’re not ready to fully commit, there are many restaurants in Auckland that are Greek-inspired and can be like your gateway to traditional Greek cuisine.
With a mixed menu of Italian and Greek, our friends at El Greco do both cuisines absolute justice. They don’t fool around when it comes to food as these guys stick to quality and authenticity. Their roasted aubergine dip is an absolute classic and how can we miss the good old tzatziki? They also offer two sorts of platters on the menu, Greek and Italian and both stay true to their own cuisine. The Greek platter comes with the usual dips, pita, olive, cheese and to make it more special, traditional Greek meatballs.
A lot of Greek food is adopted by Middle Eastern lands, mostly Arabian and Turkish so their cuisines tend to be quite familiar to each other. Feriza’s is a Turkish restaurant but their food is pretty close to Greek and it’s absolutely delish. The menu emphasises a mezze culture which is a Greek way of dining based around sharing a range of different things so you can get a taste of everything. The Ottoman Eggplant dish comes with saffron pilaf which is very common for Greek foodies. It’s fragrant rice that has been infused in chicken broth and takes the mild tasting, fluffy carbohydrate to another level.
Situated in the heart of the city, Mezze Bar’s menu is all made to share with a variety of tapas that resemble Greek cuisine. Their menu consists of slow cooked, juicy meats and homemade hummus served with warm pita bread. They also have a great selection for all the vegetarians and vegans out there and won’t let blandness leave their kitchen, even if it’s just vegetables! Our favourite from Mezze Bar is the Mezze Lamb Burger. It’s an almost Greek and Western fusion dish where you get the familiar flavours of a typical burger but the lamb and halloumi cheese make it something else.
Not exactly pure Greek but the addition of Italian, French and Spanish-inspired cuisine can assure us that all the food on The Mediterranean’s menu is packed full of flavour. The special Greek dish of this eatery is the goat’s cheese baked in traditional Greek Kataifi pastry. Kataifi is a string pastry that does a great job of adding a unique texture to any dish, whether it is sweet or savoury. The Greek gourmet pizza is also not to be missed as it’s lighter than your usual pizza but packed with zesty flavour.
Image Credit: Natasha van der Laan