Greek food for me has always meant Philly fast food joints, gyros, diners, and tsatziki-dressed street meat. Snack Taverna, a charming neighborhood spot on Bedford Street, belies these low brow stereotypes, bringing ethereal Greek cuisine to some of Manhattan’s pickiest eaters, in the West Village. The sister restaurant to Snack, a 5-table Greek restaurant in Soho, Snack Taverna expands upon Snack’s concept of tasty and sophisticated Greek food that walks the line between authentically traditional and modern.
Snack Taverna looks just like many other West Village spots. Located in a light-filled corner space, nudged between quaint residential buildings, the charming and cheery eatery features simple rustic touches like bowls of fruit, tiers of desserts, flower sprigs, basic wooden tables set for 52, cups instead of wine glasses, and a small intimate bar. Rich burgundy walls offset glinting mirrors and petite scenic photographs. Each table is adorned sparsely with a flickering tealight candle. The look is casually elegant, upscale but not stuffy, a neighborhood spot you could just wander into easily.
What’s perhaps most surprising about Snack Taverna is the astonishing quality of the food. This is no place for culinary lightweights. The part small plate/part large entree menu exhibits range, skill, and a deep understanding of classic Greek techniques and flavors. With so many options, it’s remarkably difficult to choose just a few for your meal. Start with one of the creamy dips, served with pita; the Taramosalata, a thick and rich carp roe, lemon, and scallion dip, and the Skordalia, a smooth garlicky delight, far surpass the traditional bread & butter. Then? Share a salad. A sweet and savory watermelon feta summer special is particularly bright and fresh, so much so that it almost makes you forget the stifling heat outside.
Looking for something more substantial? Move on to the succulent lamb stifado, a crockpot of moist braised lamb, stewed in tomatoes, citrus yogurt, and onions, or the petite veal meatballs, served in a red wine reduction and citrus yogurt. Hungrier still? Pick from one of the large plates. You can’t go wrong with the oven roasted leg of lamb, simultaneously hearty and refreshing with tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and a zucchini fritter. For some true Mediterranean tastes, opt for the sweet red pepper stuffed with greek fava, oyster mushrooms, herbed rice, and a spicy sauce or perhaps the juicy pan-seared chicken with tart olives, sweet golden raisins, and chickpeas. The food at Snack Taverna is a study in complex layered flavors, all of which magically transport you to a restaurant on the beach of a fragrant Greek island.
In a city with so much Italian and French cuisine, Snack Taverna is a refreshing change of pace. Infrequently do you find a restaurant that showcases how elegant and complex Greek cuisine can be while maintaining a casually luxe and immensely likable atmosphere. Toss that tsatziki aside, and give some real Greek food a whirl.
Perfect For: those seeking something different, neighborhood eats, first dates, an unusual brunch, freaks for Greek food