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The best Greek food in Melbourne

It is the diverse cultures filling our city that ensure Melbourne wins on taste and feel every time. 

This week’s focus is on the Europeans who migrated to Melbourne during the ‘40s and ‘50s and fused their traditions and flavours with ours. During this time plenty of Greek families made their way, and today our city is home to the largest Greek population of any city in the world – outside of Greece of course. With people, comes food, so here’s where to head when your stomach yearns for the fresh tang of a Greek salad, or the charred punch of grilled octopus. 

Oakleigh is really where it’s at, being the most densely populated Greek suburb in Melbourne with Greek eateries lining the streets – some would say it’s a mini Greece. Expect smoky streets from the dozens of Greek restaurants chargrilling, which is seriously cool in my eyes when it comes to authenticity and realness. Orexi Souvlaki Bar serves the best souvlaki, and Vanilla – a two-floor Greek patisserie – is where to head for sweets. 

White Village Greek Tavern down Elsternwick way is where to head for a true, traditional feed. Like many Greek taverns, the table cloths are bright-white, and first course seems an impossible starting point. A few things to accept when dining Greek: stomachs will be over-fed, breaks will be necessary, and there shall never ever be holding back. On that note, order the $45 (per head) banquet that showcases all corners of this fine cuisine. To start, enjoy dips such as taramasalata, tzatsiki, and eggplant, followed by saganaki (fried cheese), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) and my favourite, deep fried white bait. Next course comes from the sea – calamari, barbecued prawns and grilled fish with a light salad on the side. A selection of grilled, charcoal meats follows, accompanied by juicy baked potatoes. There’s always room for Greek sweets which finish the show; baklava, Turkish delights, and halva are gifted with strong Greek coffee. If you find a Greek aunt nearby (signature to every Greek family) ask her to read your future in your coffee cup once you’re done.

Jim’s Greek Tavern in the middle of the Johnston Street action is no secret. It’s one of the most widely-celebrated Greek restaurants around – and for good reason. The huge eatery is excellent for parties and celebrations, and not only because you can smash a plate, scream, yell, and dance – but this proud family are always celebrating something and any dine-in feels like a party. As suggested above, the banquet is the way to dine Greek, and it’s a similar affair at Jim’s – dips, bites, seafood, meats, and treats. Although, I must commend the restaurant for their Galaktoboureko – a famous Greek dessert of semolina custard in filo pastry – which can be ordered at anytime of the day.