Plates layered with creamy mounds of glistening tzatziki. Mouthfuls of crispy, meltingly tender lamb fresh out of the oven. Immensely scoffable bowls of salad dotted with tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and slabs of feta. Greek food may often be overlooked in favour of neighbouring European countries (or rolled in with the sweeping category of Middle Eastern food), but this is a cuisine well worth paying attention to.

While chowing down on a gyros by the roadside as it’s grey and drizzling outside might be no match for the vibrant tavernas of Athens, or the seaside restaurants on the islands where you fill up on feta before throwing yourself into the ocean below, this is a cuisine that does seem to bring the sunshine with it, no matter where you are. There is a certain vibrancy to Greek food; a kind of conviviality that encourages sharing and socialising. Hey – you have to make conversation while fighting over the last scoop of taramasalata.

London, for all its incredible dining and vibrant restaurant scene, has typically been slightly lacking on the Greek restaurant front. Often relegated to the confines of 1am gyros hastily consumed after a night on the lash, those craving a good plate of moussaka will be happy to know there are a few places to get some wonderful Greek food at a slightly more respectable hour – and it’s food worth paying attention to as well. Just don’t forget the assyrtiko.

Andy’s Taverna

23 Pratt St, NW1 0BG

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Look, Camden might not be the best alternative to Greece, being a little more ear-splitting sirens than quietly lapping waves, but the food at Andy’s Taverna will do a pretty good job of whisking you away to the Aegean coast regardless. Established in 1967, the restaurant has been welcoming in hungry Londoners like family for yonks – something that’s a fairly good sign for any London restaurant, where surviving more than one year can be a gruelling process. It’s easy to see why – the menu hits all the classic dishes and the service is jolly and warm.

andystaverna.co.uk

Hungry Donkey

56 Wentworth St, E1 7AL

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Forget osso bucco or beef ragu – the hottest slow-cooked meat meal in town? Kleftiko. Usually made with lamb that’s been marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and slowly cooked on a bed of potatoes, onions and peppers, the resulting dish is bursting with flavour; fresh, zingy and completely divine. Hungry Donkey does a pretty impressive version – your only problem will be trying not to fill up on starters of aubergine salad and spicy cheese dip before the main course even arrives.

hungrydonkey.co.uk

Mazi

12-14 Hillgate St, W8 7SR

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Mason jars abound at this Notting Hill restaurant that cooks up incredible Greek food through a modern, refined lens. While foams and globules and artful plating does not a good meal necessarily make, Mazi has a bit of this going on, while still ticking all the taste boxes. Utilising all the classic flavour combinations that make Greek food so delicious and reimaging them in new and imaginative ways, this is contemporary Greek dining at its best. And while the mason jars may seem a little kitsch, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and you won’t want to miss out on Mazi’s divine dips.

mazi.co.uk

Opso

10 Paddington St, W1U 5QL

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Anywhere with dakos salad and fava bean puree on its menu is probably worth its salt – and Opso passes both of these tests with flying colours. The former is essentially everything you love about a greek salad, with the addition of husk bread, which soaks up all of the incredible dressing from the salad and adds an extra, gratifying element of crunch. The latter is almost exactly what it says on the tin – fave bean puree with lemon juice and finely diced red onion. Opso takes a modern approach to classic Greek dishes, without too much intervention. Think delicious, hearty food with a London twist.

opso.co.uk

Suzi Tros

18 Hillgate St, W8 7SR

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It is vaguely ironic to have a small plates restaurant centred in Greek cuisine, a country famed for its large portions and lengthy feasts, but here we are, and Suzi Tros does it rather well. From the same owners as Mazi, Suzi Tros follows a similar ethos, serving up modernised takes on classic Greek dishes. Don't miss the taramasalata with shaved bottarga on top, or the famous smoked aubergine with tahini and thyme honey.

suzitros.com

Lemonia

89 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 8UY

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With its high ceilings, dangling plants and friendly faces, Lemonia is a firm favourite among Primrose Hill locals – and Londoners who travel across town to get here, too. Serving up quality Greek food for over 40 years, the menu is jam packed with classic dishes, including a lengthy selection of grilled meat, crispy rings of grilled calamari and more dips than you can shake a stick of bread at.

lemonia.co.uk