Montreal is a culturally diverse city notorious for its amazing cuisine. Every culture is represented and Montrealers take advantage of this to indulge in these amazing tastes and cultures every day.
We wanted to explore a particular type of cuisine for this project: Greek food. Greek restaurants are scattered all over the city. We’re going to take you behind the scenes to some of the best greek restaurants in the city, talk to the owners, and feature some greek delicacies along the way. We have two video segments and a Soundslide of us indulging in greek food, reviews, a map of greek restaurants in Montreal and a Storify depicting an abbreviated history of Greek politics and its culinary bestsellers.
Greece has an extremely diverse cuisine, and we’ve tasted some of the meals that have become world-renowned. We visited Marathon Souvlaki, Afroditi Bakery, Grilladerie Nostos and Village Grec.
First, let us start our Greek extravaganza with a video of us enjoying fine cuisine. On the first day, we stopped at Marathon Souvlaki for lunch then indulged in some Afroditi pastries to satisfy any remaining hunger. Without any further ado.
And now for our review of our first two stops:
Our first contender in our Greek culinary experience is none other than Marathon Souvlaki. Like its nemesis Village Grec, it’s been serving delicious gyros since 1977, a remarkable three decades.
But here’s the difference: if you’re looking for a delicious entrée to accompany your gyro, Marathon has one of the best calamari dishes in the city. They also have fantastic garlic bread for you to eat with your meal.
Their gyro is one of the best around town as well. Every bite includes the perfect amount of tzatziki, tomatoes and onions. Greeks will always hold the gyro to high standards, being their favorite part of a meal, and Marathon satisfies these standards every time.
If there is one negative aspect to Marathon, it’s the decor. Simple and bland. Nothing to catch your eye, nothing to brighten the atmosphere. Decor is an extremely important aspect to having a positive experience in a restaurant, and it is something Marathon lacks.
We would highly recommend a more Mediterranean look such as Nostos’ Grilladerie, which we will review further below.
Marathon Souvlaki: B+
Afroditi Bakery and Pastry:
Afroditi Bakery and Pastry has been serving Montrealers since 1971. The Karagiannidis family took over the establishment in 1981. Since then, both management and staff have worked very hard to create a successful enterprise offering tasty desserts in an utmost pleasant and courteous environment.
At Afroditi, nothing but natural and the best quality ingredients are used for all their baked goods. Afroditi’s pastry chefs have mastered the traditional French and Greek pastries, breads, cookies as well as other international favorite baked goods.
One of the best things about Montreal is its cultural diversity (you hear that, Marois?). Its not in every city that you can find an exclusively Greek bakery like Afroditi. The dessert varieties they have are mind-boggling. Everything from baklavas, galaktobourekos, almond cookies to savory snacks like spanakopitas and tyropitas can be found here. They even have a small seating area if you want to sit and enjoy something from the bakery, which we did. They also make cakes, and sell some authentic Greek olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
The decor in this bakery is nothing short of flawless. Wood framing and low-lighting, an eccentric ceiling and even a small study area, all join together in a decor reminiscent to a coffee shop that would be around in the time of the Great Gatsby.
Although these articles are meant to fairly give a critical review of the places we’ve visited, we cannot think up of any aspect that we could criticize at Afroditi. The quality food and phenomenal environment make for an exceptional little bakery in Park Extension.
Afroditi Review: A+
We will now give you a brief look at the political and culinary history of Greece with this Storify piece.
And now for the second part of our delectable journey. After having successfully digested our previous meals, we have now set our eyes on two other Greek restaurants: Village Grec and Grilladerie Nostos. See how our adventure unfolds:
Believe it or not, this charming family-owned little restaurant has been serving gyros since 1976, and it still gets regulars.
“I remember going to Village when I was 10 years old,” said John Mikalis, a 47-year-old food distributor in the Montreal area. “It’s literally unbeatable if you like the freshest, most delicious gyro, and it’s been that way for 36 years.”
Walking down Jean-Talon, the yellow sign indicating the entrance is barely visible among the other stores around it. Upon entering the shabby, one room, 40-seat restaurant, you’re immediately hit by a warm smell. When it comes to how you want your gyro laid out, you have two choices at Village Grec. First there is the classic gyro Pita always filled to the rim. Just keeping everything in the pita is an accomplishment in itself. If not, you can go for the equally massive gyro plate, where they lay out the gyro without the pita but accompany it with a Greek salad, fries and rice. To make it even better, if you manage to finish this massive plate, the waitress will give you a succulent candy!
The decor is much more interesting than its counterpart, Marathon Souvlaki. Instead of a bland and lifeless decor, we have hundreds of framed photos and articles praising the restaurant. The wood finish adds just the right touch of a family business flair.
If I had to describe the gyro at Village Grec, I’d go with simply mouth-watering. The texture of the perfectly-cooked meat slowly melts in your mouth with every bite to create the perfect taste. Another quaint little advantage of Village Grec is the availability of dental-floss in the bathrooms. We made sure our teeth and gums were perfectly clean by the time we left, you should too!
Unfortunately, the seating arrangement leaves little space for our seats. Also I’d like to mention that when we were there it was empty, but I can only imagine how loud and near-claustrophobic one must feel when it’s a full house.
Thus, the food is as great as its nemesis, Marathon Souvlaki, and the decor is much better. However, there is less space. Thus, both are still neck-in-neck for the best affordable gyro restaurant in town, but we are forced to say there is no clear-cut winner.
Village Grec: B+
Nostos, as opposed to Marathon’s and Village Grec, is a classier, lesser-known Greek restaurant located on the quieter side of Acadie St.
Despite the fact that some of their food does not compare to those of the previous two, they have one dish in particular making it worth the trip: the chicken platter.
This is perhaps some of the best chicken we’ve ever tasted. The moistness and tenderness of the chicken is unparalleled. As we ate, each bite can only be described as succulent. The chicken had a nice little crust on the outside, while the inside was exploding with juicy flavor.
Just like our previous restaurants, Nostos is the type of place where you can enjoy a nice, affordable meal at for a reasonable price. The Mediterranean decor makes it look like a greek souvlaki joint sitting on the seashore in some simple Greek village, and the light Greek music playing in the background only accentuates this effect.
The service was impeccable, and the owner reminds me of a typical Greek mother. Welcoming, appeasing and jokingly insolent to her employees, she can be seen as a typical stereotype of a friendly Greek mom welcoming us all into her kitchen.
As such, I would highly recommend this restaurant to Greeks and non-Greeks alike.
Nostos Rating: A
Now here is a Soundslide showing various photos of our culinary adventure. The clip was voiced by our resident Greek correspondent, George Menexis. Enjoy!
For anyone interested in visiting these and other Greek restaurants in and around Montreal, including Laval, below are the locations. You will also find in their descriptions the best way to reach these restaurants with public transit.
Note: the map is in no way complete, as there are many other locations in the Greater Montreal area. We have simply provided our prime recommendations when it comes to Greek cuisine.