The flavors of the Mediterranean are as vibrant as its pristine, blue waters. Nations that border the Mediterranean have some of the best seafood, freshest produce, and silkiest olive oil around. Here are the spots to enjoy the best that region has to offer in NYC.
Famously known for their outstanding lunch specials, Estiatorio Milos is a seafood lover’s paradise. Try out the menu with their “Back to the Office Lunch,” priced at $24 for two courses or go all-out with their a la carte menu. If you’re in the mood for the freshest seafood, order items from their raw bar like the Greek ceviche or the Avgotaraho. The Milos Special is a fan favorite—the zucchini and eggplant tower is also highly photogenic. Make sure to save room for dessert!
Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is a mecca for food and drink lovers. Miss Ada is an inviting and trendy neighborhood spot serving Mediterranean cuisine from Israeli-born Chef/Owner Tomer Blechman. Get heaping orders of hummus, labneh and babaganoush for the table while you decide which delicious entree you want to tackle. The za'atar-crusted salmon is an absolute delight. The intensely flavorful dishes are enhanced by herbs grown on-site in the sunny backyard. Pair that with the "Dead Sea" cocktail, a refreshing blend of guava, mezcal, mint, lime and a hint of salt.
The best fast-casual spot for Egyptian street food is Zooba. Whether you get a handheld hawawshi or taameya for easy on-the-go-eats or a bowl stuffed with goodness, you'll be coming back for more after just one bite. Try the spicy hawawshi topped with orange-carrot slaw and harissa-raisin sauce. The badawi beef is a flavor explosion with slow-roasted beef, pickled beets, hot peppers, kale, pickled lemon sauce and hibiscus tahina.
The best place for Moroccan food in all of New York City is Cafe Mogador. Since 1983, it has been a cultural hub and neighborhood favorite in the East Village (and has since expanded to another location in Brooklyn). The same family still owns and operates both locations to this day. The tagines (served with rice or couscous) are the way to go. Choose between chicken or lamb shank and then decide on a flavorful sauce (pro tip: pick the charmoulla sauce for an extra dash of heat). Get the whole table eating with the halloumi platter with grilled vegetable skewers and za'atar pita.
12 Chairs Cafe
There are two 12 Chairs Cafe locations to enjoy Middle Eastern and Mediterranean twists on Eastern European food staples. The homier Macdougal Street location serves breakfast all day (along with brunch, lunch and dinner), but its sleeker Brooklyn sister only does brunch, lunch and dinner. The Greek, Shouk, and Tunisian Nicoise salads are perfect for the hotter summer weather. The Moroccan-spiced shakshuka or the borek (fried cigars filled with potato puree and runny eggs) are great meals to greet the day.
There's frequently a line waiting to get into Taverna Kyclades in Astoria, but don't let that discourage you. The line moves quickly, and the food is certainly worth the wait. It's known for its seafood, and that's absolutely what you should get. Start with the grilled octopus or mardia (smelt). There are nearly 20 seafood entrees, including the Mediterranean sea bass and dorata. There's also grilled swordfish, fillet of sole, grilled or fried sardines and Greek-style shrimp with feta, ouzo and tomatoes. The wine list has several Greek vintages that expertly pair with any seafood dish.
With so much fantastic produce available, it's easy to stick to a plant-based diet in the Mediterranean. Here in NYC, Nish Nush has vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free casual cuisine inspired by family recipes from Isreal. There are five different falafel burger options! If you love falafel, you could easily eat here for weeks without repeating a meal. The vegan shawarma with sauteed cherry tomatoes and onions, harissa and tahini, served on chewy laffa bread is the perfect blend of smoky, tangy and spicy.