For years, Londoners have struggled to find decent Greek restaurants. North London is home to many popular Cypriot restaurants but menus rarely extend beyond the usual offerings of halloumi (a Cypriot, not Greek, cheese as is often assumed), salads and basic grilled meats.
In the last few years we have begun to see a change, but why? Panayis Manuelides, the owner of Odysea, a Greek food importer, explains “after the second world war and during the 60s, many Cypriots came to London to get work, which was easy for them because Cyprus was part of the Commonwealth. Greeks at that time migrated mostly to Australia and the USA. Therefore, most Greek restaurants in the UK were Greek Cypriot restaurants.
“These days, because of the economic crisis in Greece, many Greek people are coming to the UK to open restaurants. We’ll be seeing a lot more opening in the next few years. We will also start seeing more Greek food products making an appearance in the UK as Greek people are driven to the fields and farms in order to make a living.”
So London may be on the verge of a Greek restaurant boom, but where is good to eat Greek food right now? There’s a major trend for souvlaki (see our handy guide to the best here) but what about restaurants?
Best Greek Restaurants – Hungry Donkey
Just off Petticoat Lane this bright, modern Greek restaurant has a focus on street food. They’re careful about sourcing, and meat comes from farms in Cornwall and Devon to be cooked on a robata grill.
Markos Tsimikalis created Hungry Donkey “to try to blow a breath of fresh air into the life of the traditional Greek food offering in London.” He tells us, “we wanted a restaurant that on the one hand honoured the roots of Greek cuisine which are based on simplicity, fresh ingredients and an authentic made-by-your-grandmother feel, and on the other hand, paid homage to the creative explosion of cutting-edge Greek modern design which has been sweeping the hospitality industry in Greece over recent years.”
The restaurant is focused on promoting Greek produce, wines and craft beers, and the menu is reasonably priced. On it you will find imported ingredients such as freshly picked greens from the fields in the Peloponnese, bio-dynamic olives, Greek wines and pita bread made in Greece.