Astoria is the heart of New York’s Greek community.
Here you will find a local Orthodox church, Greek school, social clubs, traditional Greek grocery stores and an array of Greek eateries and businesses.
This sharp series of shots are taken exclusively for GCT by our New York based photographer Kevin Karakalpakidis, which gives you a glimpse of one of the largest Greek communities outside of Hellas.
Ride the N train past Times Square and Central Park and you’ll find yourself in a neighbourhood that has a strong Greek culture. Here you will find cafes where people are sitting outside playing tavli (backgammon) while sipping away on their Greek coffee.
Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other neighbourhoods- Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside.
Here you will find some of New York’s best and most authentic Greek taverns- serving traditional Hellenic dishes that are mouthwatering and reminiscent of the flavours found on the Greek isles and mainland.
Taverna Kyclades is one of the local favourites and is known for serving up great seafood. The tables pour outside onto the sidewalk for seating under blue and white umbrellas. No matter what time of the day you visit, chances are you will need to wait.
When it comes to Greek street food in Astoria, you can’t go past The Souvlaki Lady- Elpida has been serving customers from her small food cart for over 26 years.
When she started, her son and daughter were young and she lived around the corner, so she could watch them playing in the yard as her mother-in-law baby-sat. Elpida is now a grandmother herself and serving souvlaki to a third generation of customers.
Elpida learned to cook when she was a girl, and her souvlaki recipe is the same one her mother used in their family restaurant.
Speaking of food- where there are Greeks there must be a bakery (or 2 or 3 or more) and since 1970, Lefkos Pyrgos Cafe & Bakery located in the heart of Astoria has offered the best and most traditional Greek desserts and delicacies.
Including Galaktoboureko, Baklava, Kataifi, Ekmek, Loukoumades, Bougatsa, Tiropita, Spanakopita, Melomakarona, Kourabiedes, Diples, Touloubes, Amigdalota, Greek Yogurt with Honey- plus a good coffee.
If it’s Greek products you are after- head to the famous Kiryakos Grocery- this is a traditional “Bakaliko” (convenience store) stocking items that are shipped directly from Greece.
This lovely gentleman offers so many Greek delicacies, including authentic Greek olive oil, pasta, confectionary, coffee, olives, yogurts, cheeses and he is always there to personally help each customer who walks through his doors.
St. Demetrios’ community in Astoria has been in existence for over 80 years and the church along with its patrons have come a long way. St. Demetrios’ Greek school opened in 1957 with 267 students and has now turned into a full Day School with over 700 Greek-American students.
If you are ever in NYC, it’s definitely worth while spending some time in Astoria and seeing how the diaspora have maintained a strong connection to their Greek roots!
*All images taken by Kevin Karakalpakidis kkaraphoto.com (Copyright)