The first is Avra Estiatoria on E 48th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues. "From the moment you step through our doors you feel you've been transported to a Villa in Greece. You are surrounded by an authentic, cozy Mediterranean atmosphere with imported limestone and distressed wood floors, stonewashed walls, exposed wood beams, and French doors that open to a beautiful flowered courtyard..."
I couldn't have said it better myself ;-) Just yesterday I met three friends there and got to enjoy a sunny, warm, shaded slightly by an umbrella on the patio just outside the main door. We were greeted with ice water and fresh breads, oil-cured olives, hummus and crisp radishes as soon as we sat. We then decided to share an order of gigandes, lima beans cooked in a savory tomato sauce with red onion, which were truly delicious.
Olives, hummus and radishes at Avra
Skordalia with roasted yellow and red beets at Avra
At Kellari Parea, in the flatiron district, they also have a fabulous menu with delicious vegan (or vegan adaptable) options. I thoroughly enjoyed the melitzinosalata, an eggplant puree, and their fava bean spread as appetizers. They also offered an earthy shredded romaine salad which was good, but their gigandes were the best I have had by far. The sauce was so flavorful, it came straight from the oven, and while I was happy to share with my cousins who had joined me for the night, I was glad the portion was so big so there was still plenty for me to enjoy!
I know with the holiday weekend, mind's are focused on the beach, but if you are in New York, or are just yearning for the sea, the food at either of these establishments makes it nice to pretend you're somewhere else.