Beyond Grape Leaves: Home of Authentic Greek Cuisine – Greek Islands, Chicago

Thanks to Chicago’s large Greek community, the city has a lot of Greek food. Most of the best Greek restaurants are family run and have been around for decades. They’re centered along the gentrified Greek town neighborhood, on Halsted Street, just west of downtown (and near the United Center). There, a few city blocks are lined with fancy Greek restaurants, fast-food gyros joints, and family-run Greek bakeries serving hard-to-pronounce but absolutely delicious homemade pastries.

Greek Islands separates itself from the pack of so many other Greek restaurants with a festive atmosphere, an authentic Greek culinary experience, and a professional waitstaff.  Having traveled to Greece through the years, I was in search of a local authentic Greek restaurant to entertain family and friends. The Greek Islands is authentic as it gets. There are two locations in Illinois, one in Lombard and the other one I recently visited in Greek Town, Chicago.

Location:  200 S. Halsted Chicago, Illinois

Menu:  Deciding what to order is as difficult as picking your favorite ancient Greek God.  The menu is massive and offers an extensive assortment of traditional Greek favorites and fresh seafood.  The Greek Islands wine, cheeses, seafood, and olives are all directly imported and prepared in an open kitchen.

Start with Avgolemono soup and saganaki, also known as cheese on fire, and then dig in to some traditional dishes like dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice), moussaka (baked eggplant, ground meat and potato casserole topped with béchamel sauce which can also be prepared vegetarian) and kontosouvli (Pork on the split, served with onions and horseradish yogurt sauce), which are among my favorites.  If seafood is more your style, fresh seabass, and the mahi-mahi shish kabobs are moist and prepared to perfection.  The menu constantly changes with the chefs creating innovative food combinations at reasonable prices.

Thoughts:  When dining In Greece, they don’t light the saganaki cheese on fire and yell “Opa!” like they do in American Greek restaurants, but just about everything else about the Greek Islands is incredibly authentic. From the time you arrive, you’ll immediately notice the tantalizing aromas from the kitchen and festive atmosphere.  The restaurant’s casual ambiance features Greek music playing in the background, scenery murals, and quaint knickknacks adorning the blue and coral-hued interior.  The décor is creative and makes it feel like you’re sitting al fresco in Santorini.  Due to the sheer volume of customers the restaurant can serve at once, the restaurant can get noisy at times.

It’s a great place to relax and spend times with friends, and the staff treats you like family.  I always feel like I’m dining in a private Greek home. In the Greek Town location there are even a few Greek columns, statues, and a National Hellenic Museum, so it’s a nice area to walk around after your meal. Greeks like to take time to enjoy their food and wine, so don’t rush your meal – enjoy the Greek music and decor, soak up the Mediterranean ambiance, savor the spectacular food, and slowly sip your Greek wine or shot glass full of ouzo.

Price range:  Appetizers range from $4 -$11, and Entries range from $7-$25

Additional note:  Greek Islands offers free valet parking.  The restaurant is also wheelchair accessible.

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Greek Islands separates itself from the pack of so many other Greek restaurants with a festive atmosphere, an authentic Greek culinary experience, and a professional waitstaff. Read the review.




Tracey Ingram
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Tracey Ingram

Tracey Ingram, M.S.– Travel Writer, Author, Video Photographer, Food & Dog Lover!

Tracey has a lifelong passion for travel, learning languages, and experiencing other cultures.She also is the author of Accessibility – Disabled World Travels: Safe Senior Travel Made Easier, available on When not focusing on her career in healthcare and writing books, she finds herself trying fun things to do in cities worldwide, exploring new restaurants, and writing reviews about those experiences.She’s inspired by these passions and created a website/travel blog to share with people who dream about travel and who are planning their next adventure.The ultimate goal is to share her experiences and to encourage everyone to get out, try new things, and enjoy life to the fullest.Over the past 10+ years Tracey has traveled throughout the United States and to over 20+ countries and won’t be stopping anytime soon.She’s a proud member of the ITWPA (International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance).
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