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Walter Magazine: Greek To Me

 

If you’re walking on Hillsborough Street toward downtown, Taverna Agora is likely to call your name. The open-air seating on the roof is often packed-to-the-brim, as is the front patio, and live Greek music (and sometimes even a fire-wielding belly dancer) entertains both diners and passersby.

 

It’s not your average restaurant, and its owner, Lou Moshakos, is not your average born-and-bred Raleighite. A native of Lykovrisi, a small village in Greece outside of Sparta, Moshakos credits his Greek heritage as the source of his deep love for food, people, and entertaining.

 

And he’s good at it, as evidenced by the huge success of his company LM Restaurants, Inc., a hospitality management group he owns and runs with his family. His wife, Joy, and daughter, Amber, are both vice presidents in the company, and his daughters Chantal and Crystal are also involved. The group manages 35 restaurants in the Southeast, including the Carolina Ale House franchise; Hops Supply Co., Bluewater Waterfront Grill, and Oceanic in the Wilmington area; and, of course, Taverna Agora.

 

It all started when Moshakos left Greece for Montreal at 18. On his second day, he entered the restaurant business as a dishwasher. He met Joy there, and after 14 years, the couple moved to Boca Raton, Fla., where they opened a seafood restaurant. Joy worked in the kitchen; Moshakos shucked the clams and oysters.

 

When they got the chance to move to Raleigh in 1992 to run a Miami Subs franchise, they jumped at the opportunity, and have never looked back. “I love it,” Moshakos says. “I love the people here … they’re so friendly. They’re so family-oriented.” He says Raleigh reminds him of a Greek village.

 

Moshakos found success with his many restaurant franchises in the Triangle, but still couldn’t track down good local Greek food. He decided to take matters into his own hands, and opened the original location of Taverna Agora on Glenwood Avenue in 2003. In Greek, a taverna is a small restaurant and an agora is a central gathering place, making the title a fitting name for a restaurant that embodies the family-centered, cozy feeling of village life Moshakos grew up with. “You feel like you’re home,” he says of coming to Taverna Agora. “It’s the closest you’ll be to home (in Greece) without going there.”

 

When the Glenwood Avenue lease was almost up, Moshakos knew he wanted to move the restaurant downtown, closer to foot traffic. When he found the current location, he knew it was perfect: Originally an IBM office building built in 1960, it’s positioned right between Glenwood South and downtown, making it the “missing link” Hillsborough needed, Moshakos says.

 

Opened last summer, the new space retains the charm of the original, with a new cosmopolitan twist: The upstairs roof has an almost-island vibe, with lots of greenery, views of 200-year-old oak trees, trendy seating, and a bar with an original cocktail menu. It’s made for celebrating, eating, and gathering in traditional Greek style.

 

 

To capture that festive air without leaving home, Moshakos has shared Taverna Agora’s Greek Mule cocktail recipe. Lemon and lime juice, baklava syrup, and fresh ginger make it a fresh choice for the August heat and perfect for a summer soiree. As Moshakos would say, “That’s the Greek hospitality.”

 

Greek Mule

1 ¼ ounces Tito’s Vodka

½ ounce baklava syrup*

Ginger beer

1 lemon

1 lime

Fresh ginger

Mix vodka, baklava syrup, and juice from lime and lemon in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Top with ginger beer and freshly grated ginger. Garnish with a lime wheel.

*Baklava syrup: Infuse simple syrup with cinnamon and citrus.

 

This New Raleigh Rooftop Menu is Literal #BrunchGoals

Brunch in Raleigh just got a whole lot better. Clear your weekend plans because Taverna Agora just launched a new brunch menu and suddenly Sunday can’t come soon enough.

Served Sundays from 10:30am-3pm, their new menu is shout-it-from-the-rooftop good. Speaking of rooftops, while the new menu is available throughout the entire restaurant, we highly recommend snagging a table on their year-round rooftop. Keep reading to see why…

Here’s what we’re most excited about:

 

Magical Rooftop Vibes

Ward off the Sunday Scaries with a long, lingering brunch on a garden rooftop. Up here, greenery abounds and Mondays don’t exist. Embrace multiple rounds of mimosas as you soak up the midday rays that filter through the canopy of interwoven flora. And when chilly weather rolls around, the whole thing gets enclosed in glass and heated so you can dine al fresco, year-round.

Mimosas are only $3 (and also available by the carafe!)

Like any good brunch, the mimosas flow freely here. And for three bucks a pop, you might as well go for a second round. They’ve also got Raspberry Mimosas ($6.50), Greek Sangria ($8) and a ton of others for those looking for more creative ways to enjoy a boozy brunch.

Insider tip: Taverna Agora also features a mythical sparkling water, Mastiqua, that purportedly has purifying properties and does everything from aid digestion to whiten teeth. Enjoy it mixed into one of their cocktails—it’s got a unique flavor that adds a lil’ extra sumthin’ to any drink. La Croix, who?

The Homemade Doughnuts (loukoumades) come with BAKLAVA SYRUP ($6.95).

You can’t go wrong with fried dough—and these greek doughnuts, traditionally deemed “loukoumades,” are no exception. But what pushes this app over-the-top? The baklava syrup, baby. That’s right: your favorite, sticky sweet, walnut and honey-drenched dessert has been reimagined into a thick, dangerously-delicious nectar. Prepare to absolutely drown your doughnuts in this stuff—the forthcoming sugar coma is a later-you problem.

Oh, and do yourself a favor and get the Taverna Greek Yogurt ($7.95).

No, it’s not traditionally the sexiest brunch fare, but hear us out. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Yoplait from the grocery store. This is the perfectly sweet, indulgently creamy, whipped yogurt of your dreams.  Made with local Johnston county honey (and some other super-secret magic ingredients), trust us that this Greek yogurt is—dare we say it?—life-changingly delicious. Served with fresh berry compote and those aforementioned donuts, it’s a must order.

The love-child that is the Spanakopita Benedict (10.95).

Combine an OG brunch fave with traditional Greek fare you’ve got a match made in heaven. Flaky phyllo dough cradles fresh spinach, feta, onions and poached eggs—top it off with hollandaise sauce and you’ll see why we give this dish 10 out of 10 praise hand emojis.

And there are so many ways to get your Gyro fix.

Served as a breakfast pita with scrambled eggs ($8.95), frittata ($9.95), omelet ($10.95) or traditional lunch pita ($8.95), there’s plenty of ways to enjoy.

Also worth noting?

Their house-cured citrus salmon is silky and luxurious; get it served in an omelet ($10.95), complete with Kefalograviera cheese, spinach and tomato relish or (if you’re a purist or DIY-enthusiast) as a straight-up Citrus-Cured Salmon Board ($9.95), which comes with dill cream cheese, pickled veggies, and pita bread.

And for those who lean more towards the lunch side of brunch, there’s also fully stocked menu of salads, entrees and small plates. And FYI, the Flambéed Saganaki ($9.95) arrives to your table literally on fire and the Greek Spreads Trio ($12.95) lets you sample Taverna Agora’s best dips: tzatziki, spicy feta, and eggplant.

Their new brunch menu is now available every Sunday from 10am-3pm.

Round up your squad and set your alarms for Sunday am and prepare to scream Opa!

Downtown Raleigh: Taverna Agora

 

Inspired by the tastes, sounds and sights of the small villages one would encounter in Greece, Taverna Agora transports you to another place. Food is the focal point of Greek culture. Our recipes use time-tested cooking techniques to produce flavorful dishes, using the combination of simple ingredients, herbs and spices to infuse flavor into each of our recipes. Taverna Agora also offers multiple event spaces for private events, from more intimate interior dining spaces to our lush Mediterranean rooftop and bar.

Wedding Spot Inc.-Taverna Agora

 

Venue Description:

 

Located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, Taverna Agora is the perfect location for an intimate, romantic wedding. Our private event spaces include a cozy, private dining room and open-air, rooftop patio overlooking the cityscape. No matter what season you decide to celebrate your union, Taverna Agora can accommodate. Our rooftop terrace is heated and enclosed during the winter months and is cooled in the summer by the canopy of several giant oak trees. Our delicious Greek cuisine and outstanding event staff allow you to focus on what’s most important, creating memories with the ones you love on your most special day. We look forward to hosting your wedding & exceeding all expectations.

Visit Raleigh: Taverna Agora

 

Taverna Agora is an authentic Greek kitchen and bar where friends and family enjoy good wine, eat wonderfully prepared, simple food and relax. The restaurant is reminiscent of gathering places found in Greece, with old world flavors and rustic roots. However, Taverna Agora expands beyond the traditional agora with a few modern flares, including hand-crafted cocktails, a gourmet marketplace and Sunday brunch.

Triangle Restaurant Week: Taverna Agora

Taverna Agora is an authentic Greek kitchen & bar where friends & family enjoy good wine, eat wonderfully prepared, simple food and relax. The restaurant is reminiscent of gathering places found in Greece, with old world flavors and rustic roots. However, Taverna Agora expands beyond the traditional agora with a few modern flares, including hand-crafted cocktails, a gourmet marketplace and Sunday brunch. We look forward to meeting you at our bar, in our dining room or enjoying a Greek cocktail on our open-air rooftop patio. Private events are also welcome. Yassou! (See you soon!)

A Comprehensive Guide to Raleigh’s Best Outdoor Patios

We *hope* we can safely say winter is behind us and it’s time to pack the patios! We rounded up a few of our favorite places around Raleigh, featuring rooftops and scenic skyline views, to grab a much needed beverage while enjoying the breeze. Whether you’re thirsty for a cold brew, a craft cocktail, a glass of vino or just some sunshine, this list has you covered. Cheers!

 

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Taverna Agora Launches New Creative and Appetizing Brunch Menu

 

Taverna Agora, a Greek restaurant in the heart of Raleigh, is launching a new brunch menu on September 9th! I had the good fortune of previewing four dishes from the new menu last week, and it has me convinced that I need to schedule multiple visits to Taverna Agora for upcoming brunches sooner rather than later. I want to highlight the menu items I tasted and also tell you more about the rest of the new brunch additions!

 

First up was the Gyro Frittata. It was such a creative Greek spin on the classic brunch favorite, the frittata. I love gyro meat and never would have thought to include it in a frittata with some of the traditional gyro fixings, like fresh feta and tomato relish! Just scoop some of the gyro frittata on a warm pita bread slice for a good time.

 

Next up is the Crab Cake Benedict. Crab cake can be such a tricky item to master. If you get the breadcrumb to crab ratio off, it can feel like a lackluster dish. And I’m happy to report that these crab cakes are the opposite of lackluster.

 

If I had to pick a favorite from the four dishes I tried, I’d go with the Short Rib Breakfast Skillet. It’s such a comforting and hearty dish. I’ve never had gigantes beans but they remind me of big butter beans. The braised short ribs were so tender I almost wanted to melt into a puddle of pleasure simply by just pulling on the meat with my fork.

 

Lastly, the fanciful Spanakopita Benedict embodied delicious playfulness. I love the ode to the Greek classic spanakopita with the phyllo cup filled with spinach, feta, and onions. The poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on top of these cups are what the kids call #brunchvibes.

 

And if these four entrées didn’t motivate you to schedule a brunch outing with your friends and family at Taverna Agora, which, by the way, seems impossible to me, then check out some of their other new brunch items!

 

There are Loukoumades, which can be described as Greek donuts. These Loukoumades come drizzled with baklava syrup and are topped with cinnamon, powdered sugar, and chopped walnuts.

 

Loukomades also comes with an order of the Taverna Greek Yogurt, which is creamy Greek yogurt topped with granola and seasonal fruit compote.

 

You can also order a Gyro Omelet, which is an omelet that is filled with gyro meat, onions, tomatoes, and feta. It’s served with Tarverna breakfast potatoes.

 

For those who love sweet brunch dishes, Taverna Agora’s take on French Toast Bread Pudding consists of baked challah bread, limoncello, local honey, and golden raises.

 

Finally, you can really conjure up Greek vibes with the Breakfast Gyro Pita, which comes with a side of Taverna fries. I’ve had some of my American friends comment on my eating gyros with fries as an American adaptation, but I was tickled to visit Greece a few years ago and see fries as a classic gyro pairing.

-Girl Eats World

Sobe Savvy: Taverna Agora #TakeBackLunch

 

Greece is known for many things. The Acropolis and inventing the modern Olympic games just to name a few. Something else Greece is known for… healthy and delicious food! Whether it’s how they cook their lamb or use feta cheese in different dishes, Greek cuisine is adored worldwide. Although Greece is 5,000 miles away and eating there for lunch or dinner tomorrow is impossible for most, I have some great news. Greece is right here in the City of Oaks in the form of Taverna Agora Restaurant!

 

Located in downtown Raleigh,NC, Taverna Agora offers old world flavors and rustic roots “reminiscent of gathering places found in Greece.” As soon as you walk in you get a feeling of traditional mixed with modern. The atmosphere is quite charming and I loved the decor both inside and on the covered rooftop patio.

 

SobeSavvy.com was invited there for lunch during the special Triangle Restaurant Week that runs from June 4 thru June 10. For a fixed price, you get to try dishes from the regular menu at a discount. Lunch at Taverna Agora during this special is $15 per person (plus tax/gratuity) for 3 COURSES! THAT is such a great deal don’t you think?!

 

We started with a couple of great cocktails and got down to the business of food. Our waiter welcomed me back (since I dined there before) and gave a warm welcome to my guest who was there for the first time. We ordered an appetizer, entrée and dessert from the special Triangle Restaurant Week menu as follows:

 

1ST COURSE

Options were Lemon Chicken soup or a choice of two different salads. Both the Greek Village Salad and the Watermelon and Feta Salad were fresh and flavorful. I also was pleased to see that the portions were big enough to share with each other. Thanks to the quality of the balsamic vinegar combined with watermelon and feta, I have found a new fave summer salad!

 

2ND COURSE & 3RD COURSE

For entrees we went with the Chicken Penne and a Gyro Pita. Each of these were quite good and we were impressed again by the quality of the ingredients used. I have leftovers of the pasta that I can’t wait to enjoy! We both finished with their signature Greek dessert of Baklava.

 

SobeSavvy Tip: Make some time and join Taverna Agora during your lunchtime to #TakeBackLunch. Studies show you’ll be happier and more productive when you back away from your desk, leave the screen and take time for lunch.

 

Southern Bride & Groom: Ideas for Your Raleigh Bachelorette Party

 

“Whether you are looking for a fancy or a more casual environment, there are plenty of amazing restaurant choices to choose from in the Raleigh, NC area….Looking for a step more casual – head on over to Taverna Agora. Between their amazingly beautiful rooftop terrace and authentic Greek style cuisine, you may forget you are even in North Carolina!” -Southern Bride & Groom

Taverna Agora New Year’s Eve Party

 

Taverna Agora Greek Restaurant & Bar will ring in 2017 with a festive evening of live music and dancing, complete with a champagne toast at midnight & party favors. Guests will be able to enjoy dinner off the regular menu, as well as choose from several dinner specials.

 

At 9pm, the Greek-inspired entertainment will begin with live music by a four-piece band, featuring the bouzouki, the guitar used in traditional Greek music.  The music will be accompanied by belly dancing from 9pm – 11pm.  Guests can make dinner reservations in the downstairs dining room or on Taverna’s cozy, winterized rooftop patio overlooking the Raleigh cityscape.

 

-Cary Living

NC Triangle Gold Badge Elite Brunch At Taverna Agora

 

This Sunday, Gold Elites enjoyed a family style brunch at Taverna Agora in downtown Raleigh. Twenty-five Elites arrived for a full meal including: doughnuts -loukoumades, spanakopita benedict, Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola, baklava pancakes, homemade Greek sausage, and a frittata. Let’s just say nobody left hungry! This afternoon was spent meeting new Yelpers and reminiscing with old friends. Mimosas were flowing and good times were had by all.

Dining Review: Taverna Agora Right at Home in New Location

When Lou Moshakos announced that he was uprooting Taverna Agora from its original location on Glenwood Avenue and moving it to new digs inside the Beltline, no doubt more than a few people wondered why. The restaurant was thriving, after all, a dozen years after it had opened. And the new location was several miles away from the Northwest Raleigh neighborhoods and businesses that had supported the old one.

 

But Moshakos, a savvy restaurateur whose company, LM Restaurants, owns 21 restaurants in the Southeast, including the phenomenally successful Carolina Ale House chain, had his reasons. The new location, just two blocks from Glenwood South on Hillsborough Street, puts Taverna Agora right in the thick of the downtown Raleigh renaissance. The building he selected, a former office building that had been vacant for several years, would double the restaurant’s seating capacity once renovations were completed.

 

And what renovations! The downstairs dining room oozes convivial Old World charm, from its lace curtains and blue and white checked tablecloths to the warm woodwork and Greek pottery on display in alcoves set into the walls. But it’s the upstairs patio – a landscaped, tree-shaded oasis of trellised vines, twinkle lights and classical statues overlooking Hillsborough Street – that has quickly become one of downtown Raleigh’s hottest dining destinations. The taverna is downstairs, you might say, and the agora – an open air gathering place with a tradition dating back to ancient Greece – is upstairs.

 

Upstairs or down, the food is the same – and the same, for that matter, as it was at the old Taverna Agora, except for a few tweaks here and there. Spinach- and feta-stuffed pork chops, formerly offered as a special, have earned a place on the regular menu. A few less popular items have been dropped.

 

Seafood, always a strong point, has gotten a boost. The fresh catch usually includes two options, at least one of which is typically from North Carolina waters. It might be bluefish, a treat for fans of an oily fish seldom seen in these parts. Or, if you’re willing to drop a line in waters that aren’t strictly speaking, Greek, how about bacon-wrapped, crab-stuffed flounder? And regardless of which waters it’s pulled from, the whole roasted branzino (aka European sea bass) is a keeper.

 

Fans of the original Taverna Agora will be happy to discover that all their old favorites survived the move. The appetizer offering is still an embarrassment of riches, from the classic flambéed-cheese starter, saganaki (still authentically made with Kefalograviera cheese) to the best stuffed grape leaves in town. The old dilemma – do I start with the excellent fried calamari, or with a couple of the equally tempting pita dips? – is neatly solved by a menu section devoted to sample platters.

 

Lamb lovers face another thorny problem when it comes to entrees: thick, juicy lamb chops, grilled to order? Or lamb shank, braised into tender submission in a cinnamon-tinged tomato sauce? Just remember, you can always come back for another visit.

 

Lemon- and oregano-marinated grilled chicken is a most satisfying alternative to red meat, served with lemony roasted potatoes and a colorful medley of grilled vegetables. Fisherman’s pasta, one of a handful of Greek pasta variations, delivers a generous catch of shrimp, scallops and mussels sautéed with tomatoes, basil and garlic, and served over linguine in a white wine cream sauce that lives up to its “light” promise. Those seeking the earthy comfort of roasted eggplant, ground beef and potatoes under a blanket of béchamel will find it in the layers of a classic rendition of moussaka.

 

The baklava is as fat and lavishly filled with nuts as ever. I don’t recall seeing Greek yogurt chocolate panna cotta as an option at the original location. If it’s new, it’s a most welcome addition.

 

The bar raises the, er, bar in a number of ways over the old location, notably the addition of local beers on tap and specialty cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices. The wine selection has expanded, and now includes nearly 30 Greek wines.

 

Kitchen miscues – the spanakopita’s pale, soft phyllo crust that’s a telltale sign of undercooking, say, or dark, dry lamb meatballs that suffer from the opposite problem – are infrequent. Service, on the other hand, needs to raise its game. The staff are friendly and enthusiastic, for the most part, but pacing and attentiveness are not up to the level of the food or the setting.

 

Given Lou Moshakos’ track record, it’s a good bet that service will improve as management and staff adjust to the higher volume at the new location. He says business has quadrupled since the move, and he’s already planning to enclose the rooftop patio with sliding glass panels so that it’s available year-round. Like I said, Lou Moshakos is one savvy restaurateur.

 

326 Hillsborough St., Raleigh; 919-881-8333

tavernaagora.com

Cuisine: Greek

Taverna Agora, Raleigh: Bringing Beautiful Greek Eats Downtown

 

First Take: In the world of Mediterranean eats, you’ve got a variety of countries to choose from. But for many of us when you think Mediterranean, you think Greek. And thankfully, long-time Greek restaurant favorite Taverna Agora, recently moved to downtown Raleigh bringing excellent Medi fare to the area. Plus a lot more, read on my friend!

 

Located right next to Second Empire, the first thing you’ll notice about the new Taverna Agora is the space. Covered patio up front, large bar area, two main dining rooms and then stairs leading up to a beautiful roof-top patio! There’s tons of room to stretch out here even if the place doesn’t look that big from the front. The place is bustling since they just opened up and are still in the process of training staff for the front of the house.

 

I grab a seat at the bar and hang loose, Taverna Agora has a small list of NC beers so I order up a Deep River watermelon ale. The menu at Taverna Agora is medium sized with the usual Greek favorites: salads, grape leaves, gyros, tzatziki sauce and more.

 

I go with a pork souvlaki pita with fries at a very reasonable $9. And the sandwich is great, charred pork cubes in a nicely toasted pita with plenty of fresh veggies and sauce! The fries are also fantastic, well fried with skin-on and a slight spicy rub.

 

After lunch I pop up the stairs to check out Taverna Agora’s amazing patio! Turquoise and white motif, hanging flower baskets and ceiling fans, it’s got a great, bright feel. And perfect for a leisurely lunch or quick drink. They’ve done a fantastic job here with the design and decor for their large space.

 

So so far, so good Taverna Agora! I never made it to your N. Glenwood location but I’m pretty certain I’ll be popping in from time to time into this lovely spot. Because you can’t go wrong with deliciously healthy Greek fare with cool ambiance. Definitely check out the new Taverna Agora on Hillsborough Street, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.