A taste of Queens’ own piece of Greece

Lauren Eden, Staff Writer

Although Astoria, Queens, has a mix of different races and ethnicities, one of the most prominent cultures present is Greek. This means there’s a plethora of Greek bakeries that have homemade baklava and Greek restaurants that offer the freshest seafood. There is, however, one eatery in particular that ranks supreme in terms of Greek cuisine and that is Taverna Kyclades located on Ditmars Boulevard.

Taverna Kyclades is easy to spot with its bright blue awning amid a rather basic looking block. Keep in mind that it’s crucial to go at the right time in order to get a table because the normal weekend dinner wait can be hours.

Once you are seated, a loaf of olive bread served atop olive oil is delivered to your table. Try to refrain from eating the entire loaf. You’ll want to save room for the rest of the meal, but it’s completely understandable if you have no self-control because this bread can be addicting.

The Greek salad at Taverna Kyclades is a must-have. The vegetables are crisp and the huge blocks of insanely fresh feta cheese accompany them perfectly.

For an entrée, the wait staff and any patron that has dined at this spot recommend seafood. One of the most popular dishes is their octopus, which is served as one large tentacle. For the picky eaters who are not so keen about eating seafood, the chicken kebab or spinach pie may be the best option for you.

I have frequented Taverna Kyclades twice now and have ordered the same entrée both times, the “Greek style shrimp.” Let me say that this is extremely unlike me since I usually like to switch it up and try different menu options whenever I dine at restaurants more than once. However, I consider myself a self-proclaimed shrimp connoisseur and I truly believe that this shrimp dish is the best of the best.

The shrimp are fresh and plump as can be. They are served with a mixture of sautéed bell peppers, onions, crushed tomatoes and a divine feta cheese that simply melts in your mouth. Everything is bursting with flavor; my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

With an entrée, you get to choose a side order of roasted lemon potatoes, fried potatoes, rice or horta, which is boiled greens cooked with spices. Although the lemon potatoes are a fan favorite, I go with the rice because it’s simple and pairs harmoniously with the shrimp. I scoop up the rice and put it into the shrimp dish so that the rice soaks up the flavor from the light red sauce that the sautéed vegetables provide. At the end of the meal, Taverna Kyclades presents you with a dessert on the house; a custard type pudding with a phyllo dough top covered in cinnamon.

I can’t say I’ve had too many Greek dining experiences. I do order chicken souvlaki or gyros every time I go to a diner on Long Island (all Greek-owned), but I think it’ll be tough for any place to beat Taverna Kyclades. The prices are moderate with the entrees typically ranging between $14-30, so as a college student it’s not a place I can eat at too often, but it’s definitely a restaurant I think about…a lot.