In a city known for its delicious food, it’s hard to pick just one particular type of cuisine that stands out in Atlanta. But the Greek Festival has for the past 40 years brought Greek food to the forefront for many Atlantans. This year, like so many other activities, the festival was forced to change format due to COVID-19.
Hosted by the Atlanta Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Greek Festival (traditionally held each September) was converted to a drive-thru-only occasion, bringing the festival’s focus squarely to the classic Greek food Atlantans have come to expect from each year’s event.
With just a drive-thru experience, there were long lines to purchase food and smart shoppers were able to pick up what they needed through a pre-order system that closed by the start of the weekend. This left many would-be festival goers without their yearly dose of Greek food, and those that did get a “Taste of Greece” were left wanting more.
So, if your taste buds were stoked by the “Road Trip to Greece” this fall, or if you missed out on the chance to participate completely but are still longing to taste some Hellenic delights, you should check out Atlanta’s quality Greek eateries. Here are a few of the best Greek restaurants Georgia’s capital has to offer.
It’s impossible to talk about Greek food in Atlanta without bringing up Athen’s Pizza in Decatur. For the past 43 years, the Papadopolous family has provided the Atlanta community with Greek style pizza and other traditional dishes. The first Athens Pizza was opened in Connecticut in 1966, and John and Asiemoula Papadopolous brought their establishment to Atlanta when they moved to the South in 1977. Though John passed away in 2002 and Asiemoula in 2017, their son Sandy carries on the family tradition to this day.
Generations of Atlantans have grown up eating at Athens Pizza, and it is a true pillar of Atlanta’s Greek community. Their most-loved dishes include specialty pizzas like the Santorini Special (feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, fresh garlic, artichoke hearts and Kalamata black olives), the Mediterranean (extra cheese, feta cheese, gyro meat, tomatoes and Kalamata black olives), and the Athens Special (feta cheese, ground beef, sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms and peppers). Athens Pizza is open for in-house dining, carryout and delivery currently, with only 40 people allowed inside the 220-person dining room at this time in an abundance of caution of the ongoing pandemic.
Address: 1341 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, GA 30033
For those seeking an upscale experience showcasing gourmet Greek offerings, look no further than Kyma in Buckhead. Kyma features the culinary creations of executive chef and author of “Modern Greek Cooking,” Pano Karatassos. He was raised in the Atlanta Greek community and the restaurant world, as the son of the founder of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group.
Karatassos studied at the Culinary Institute of America and was privy to incredible working experiences in the restaurants of three highly acclaimed chefs. Upon his return to Atlanta, Karatassos opened Kyma in 2001 with the help of his family.
Kyma’s menu has Mediterranean classics, contemporary seafood dishes, meze, traditional Greek spreads and vegan and vegetarian options as well. Among their most talked about dishes are their whole fish preparations, along with some standard choices and rotating specials. This year Kyma also opened another space within the restaurant – the Ouzo Bar – offering customers a taste of the Greek Isles. It features a covered outdoor patio and an outdoor garden that seats up to 20 guests. This option may be especially appealing during coronavirus concerns when outdoor seating is preferred by many restaurant-goers.
Address: 3085 Piedmont Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30305
Nick’s Food to Go
A legend in the Atlanta culinary community, Nick’s Food to Go is a true taste of Greece for the “City in the Trees.” These Greek favorites have been coming to customers from Nick and Eleni Poulos since 1994 when they emigrated to Atlanta from Greece. The restaurant itself is unassuming and located near Atlanta’s historic Cabbagetown neighborhood, not far from many famous Atlanta sites and restaurants like Daddy Z’s barbecue joint. It started without traditional Greek food even on the menu, but over time they incorporated Greece’s famous gyros which have been an Atlanta favorite ever since.
Though the namesake founder Nick retired in 2014, the restaurant is still family-operated, primarily by his daughter Evie Poulos, with mom Eleni Poulos serving as the cook. The grilled chicken gyro is their specialty, and the chicken marinade is a family secret. Other delights include a 90% lamb/10% beef gyro, pork souvlaki, Greek-style potatoes and plenty of tzatziki sauce. You can also get traditional spanakopita made by Evie herself and pastitsio (Greek lasagna) on Thursdays.
Nick’s is very to-go friendly, so it’s made the transition to being COVID-19 safe fairly easily. Customers can call in their orders ahead of time or place orders at the window and pick them up to-go when ready.
Address: 240 M.L.K. Jr Dr. SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Zeus Greek Street Food
A newer edition to the Atlanta Greek scene, Zeus Greek Street Food has quickly become a favorite among Greek food enthusiasts in the metropolitan area. Zeus’s opened in Atlanta’s Cumberland neighborhood near Vinings and Sandy Springs in 2017. It’s a modern take on chic fast casual, with gyros and souvlaki being their primary features.
Zeus’s is probably the most takeout-friendly of all, as it is featured on DoorDash, EZCater, Uber Eats, Postmates and Grubhub for all of those patrons out there looking to indulge from home. They also have a catering option and online ordering available from their website.
One thing customers may note is their unique phonetic spelling of “yeeros” on their menu – a cute quirk to ensure that visitors pronounce “gyros” the correct way. Zeus’s menu is full of traditional Greek food favorites, including some unique offerings like avgolemono soup and Santorini fava bean dip. Though it’s “new” on the scene, it’s authentic offerings are perfect for any Greek food connoisseur.
Address: 2022 Powers Ferry Rd. #130, Atlanta, GA 30339
Since 1983, Chris’s pizza has been bringing Greek cuisine to the North Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta. It was originally opened by a Greek family seeking to bring Greek pizza to the area (following in the Athens pizza tradition). After years of family ownership, it was sold in recently, though the new owners have completely retained Chris’s mission, menu and Greek culinary focus.
As they weather the pandemic, Chris’s has paired down their offerings like many restaurants. But, in the past they have had a uniquely extensive in-house dining menu with a range of pizzas modeled after different regions of Greece. Currently they are still offering many of their pizzas like the Greek Special (featuring feta cheese, gyro meat and pepperoncini peppers), the Spanako Pizza (featuring spinach, feta and white sauce), and the Nafplio Pizza (featuring Italian sausage, red onion and roasted sweet red pepper).
Address: 2911 N Druid Hills Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
As you can see, Atlanta has a thriving Greek community with a vibrant Greek culinary scene. If you missed your chance to drive through the Greek Festival this year and sample their wares, you can visit one of Atlanta’s many restaurants featuring food from the birthplace of democracy itself. Whether you are craving gourmet dishes, street fare or just some home-cooking that you can take home, Atlanta’s Greek restaurant scene has got you covered.
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