Of The Week
Uncle George’s Offers Great Food,Taste Of Greece
Celebrate life and great food at Uncle George’s Greek Tavern, a famous landmark in Astoria for about 20 years. Uncle George’s has been a fixture on the corner of Broadway and 34th Street since the 1980’s, when George and Marigo Polimenakos opened it. Now owned by their son-in-law, George Tihin, with Marigo, who comes in everyday to oversee the cooking, and her son Jimmy, the same great quality Greek barbecued meats, grilled fish and specialties are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This family restaurant is more popular than ever, as evidenced by the crowd that can be found here any day or night. Not only is the food consistently delicious, but also the service, headed up by our waiter Dino, is fast and efficient. The sound of Greek and English being spoken by families enjoying a meal and throngs of steady customers fills the air along with festive Greek music. The ambiance feels more like someone’s backyard, with family-sized tables covered in blue and white or red and white-checkered tablecloths, and carafes of wine in red pitchers. The beer is great too.
Only the freshest meats and fish are served, all cooked in traditional Greek style. At the front of the restaurant, a specially engineered rotisserie grill was designed and installed to simultaneously operate six spits containing tender and succulent lamb, pork and chicken. This charcoal barbecue renders some of the best tasting meats and fish you’ll ever try. In the rear, a refrigerated case displays the freshest fish and seafood of the day. Pick what you like and it’s cooked on the spot on the charcoal grill. Having spent some time in Greece myself, I can assure you that Uncle George’s Greek Tavern is the real deal.
Start off with an appetizer of fried kefalograviera cheese, a delectable dish, finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Fresh octopus stewed in vinaigrette is marvelously tender and perfect for sopping up with warm, crusty bread. The spinach pie could easily be a meal in itself, but is great for sharing. Of course, Greek salad, served small or large, is a must, as is a bowl of homemade soup.
When it comes to Greek cuisine, lamb and fish are the two most prominent ingredients and Uncle George’s prepares them like no one else. The chef’s skill is evident in one taste of the barbecued lamb that is carved from the rotisserie where it has been slow roasted for hours. A generous portion comes with a side order of lemon potatoes. These huge wedges of potatoes, sweetened with lemon and olive oil practically melt in your mouth. At the unbelievable price of $12 for this hearty meal, no wonder families come en masse to enjoy the food here. Order a side dish of orta, sautéed greens with a slightly bitter taste. Chicken is made special by Uncle George’s secret marinade and rotisserie cooking.
Other traditional dishes include roast leg of lamb with orzo, pastitsio, moussaka and souvlaki plates made with chunks of chicken or pork.
In addition to the regular menu offerings, daily specials feature savory roast beef with rice served on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Lamb stew with spinach is an old fashioned dish offered on Thursday and Sunday. Stuffed tomatoes or peppers filled with rice make a great vegetarian choice and their famous gigantes lima beans are buttery and delicious, served on Thursdays only. Any day of the week, try char grilled, thick cut pork chops or a juicy steak served with crispy fries for amazingly low prices. Prices are kept low because Uncle George’s accepts cash only. They are also open seven days a week, 24 hours a day to serve the tremendous volumes of patrons who come in around the clock. As a result, all diners benefit from the freshness of the food and the low prices.
Fish lovers have their choice of the freshest red snapper, porgy, whiting or skate, all cooked on the spot on the charcoal grill. Shrimp are also tasty, barbecued with lemon juice and olive oil. A crunchy Greek salad full of tomatoes, olives and feta cheese makes a wonderful counterpoint to the savory fish and seafood.
A meal at Uncle George’s Greek Tavern is a meal you’ll not soon forget. Bring your family, your friends and a great big appetite for traditional Greek cooking. The service is fast and professional and you’ll feel right at home. Remember, Uncle George’s never closes, so visit anytime. Leave your credit cards at home, because only cash is accepted. For the history of Uncle George’s and some nice photos and the menu, visit their Web site.
Uncle George’s Greek Tavern
(corner of 34th Street)