Above: There are many great Greek restaurants in the U.S. today, but Chicago restaurateur David Schneider (above) is arguably the category’s most vibrant young proponent.
It’s a tough call. I’ve been to so many amazing Greek restaurants in the U.S. this year, including Michael Psilakis’ Kefi on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (and I have yet to check out Petros in Manhattan Beach, California, where I’ll be dining early next week).
But looking back on a year of eating fantastic Greek food, from the homey family-run Greek eateries to the fast-food gyros joints, from the fine dining white-table-cloth venues to the hour-long waits for a table at the bustling seafood restaurants in Astoria, Queens, my number-one pick for best Greek restaurant in the U.S. is David Schneider’s Taxim in Chicago.
Taxim is named for Taksim Square, the center of the Greek district of Istanbul. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the underlying sociopolitical tension, the significance of the provocative metaphor will be immediately apparent. There’s a reason David didn’t name his place “Athens,” “Santorini,” or “Delphi”: he’s trying to take classic great cuisine into a new realm of culinary awareness and he succeeds gloriously.
The aromas and flavors of his kitchen are precise and balanced, pure and judiciously measured. And his wine list, while not biblical in length, offers a well-thought-out selection, including a wonderful however brief flight of rosé wines (something you don’t see in many Greek restaurants in the U.S.).
As much as I enjoyed my meal there (and talking to David about new trends in Greek cuisine today), the thing that impressed me the most was the level of attention to the restaurant’s décor and the venue’s glamor. As much as I loved Kefi in New York this year, I missed the high design and chic feel of Psilakis’ Anthos (and the ambiance of his first white-table-cloth in the City, Oneira; remember that place?).
As I’ve noted before here, Greek food and Greek wine in this country find themselves in a situation similar to that of Italian food and wine 20 years ago: I’m thrilled to see a young and vibrant restaurateur like David taking the category to the next level — with flying colors…
—Jeremy Parzen (blog master)
1558 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622