Printed on each menu is the following saying: “life is a gift, life is loukoumi“. In Greek loukoumi means “delight”, and that’s the perfect word to describe this little tavern in northwestern Queens.
Chef and owner Kostas Avlonitis is a pioneer of Greek cuisine, and he’s credited with opening one of the first tavernes in New York. That and the longevity of Loukoumi in Astoria, a neighbourhood which is home to one, if not the largest, population of Hellenes outside Greece, is enough to display how spot-on the food and environment is.
Inside it’s cozy, rustic yet elegant, with exposed stone walls and wood beams. The food is outstanding, with classic dishes like moussaka (an eggplant-and-ground-meat casserole), bronzini, and grilled lamb chops lining the menu. I tend to order the more “adventurous” plates whenever I go: the grilled liver is great if that’s your thing, and the sautéed glykadakia simply melt in your mouth; I’d recommend both in a heart beat.
So go with an open mind, and an empty stomach. You won’t regret it.