The best New York restaurant for group dining is Kiki’s, and that’s a fact.
Take all of these reasons, combine them, and you get why:
1. Cheap dishes meant to be shared.
2. Affordable and tasty carafes of wine.
3. Lively energy with easygoing service.
4. Waitlist only system, often handled by Kiki herself, to encourage spur-of-the-moment plans.
5. Good bars nearby to kill time. (Try: Clandestino for well drinks, Cervo’s for wine, Bar Belly for cocktails, 169 for beers and shots)
6. Some of the best Greek food you can find in the five boroughs.
I’ve had countless fun times at Kiki’s, swiping grilled pita and warm hunks of bread through salty, spicy feta dip; doling out helpings of the evenly composed, “no-lettuce-having” Greek salad; savoring pieces of “delectable and uncomplicated” octopus served grilled, in a pool of olive oil; and pouring refills from copper-colored, aluminum wine jugs.
I’ve waited over two hours for a table of eight while singing karaoke at Upstairs Bar, just around the corner. I’ve breathed a sigh of relief after being told at 8 pm that Mission Chinese is booked for the night, knowing that Kiki’s was there for us. And I’ve been giddy, time and time again, upon receiving the bill, belly full, drunk off house red. That’ll be 20 bucks each.
Kiki’s is where you go to let loose and satiate. It’s consistently worth waiting for because the simple, flavorful fare never disappoints and any awkwardness around how to split the check ceases to exist. At Kiki’s, everyone shares hungrily, without worries.
Best of all, there are always new plays to discover. On my third visit, having been partial to Mama’s Oven Roasted Chicken (blanketed in a rich lemon sauce and served over soft, skinned wedges of potato), a friend introduced me to Kiki’s mixed grill. When the heaping pile of sliced loukaniko sausage, plump lamb chops, and moist bifteki arrived, their juices soaking through a mound of well-seasoned fries underneath, I never looked back. I maintain it as one of the city’s most enjoyable large-format offerings. Soon after that, I was told about the cheesecake: a creamy and tangy unbaked number with a flakey crust of Greek digestive biscuits. Shame me if you must, but it’s infinitely better than any New York-style slice I’ve tried.
Here’s the latest, and you heard it here first: the rotisserie chicken at Kiki’s Grill & Rotisserie, just across the street. The outpost was for take-out and called Sherman’s until the owners switched it up a few months back. Now, it’s billed as a counter-service spot, with a menu focused on gyros and souvlakis, plus a sprinkling of Kiki’s hits. But the other night, after the folks who were occupying my party’s impending table were deemed lingerers, Kiki walked us to the offshoot, sat us at a table, and told us we’d still be able to get everything from Kiki’s. There was waitstaff on hand, conducting table service. It felt like an extension of the original, clad in dark wood and drenched in moody lighting. And yet the menus we were given offered even more: gyro sandwiches, souvlaki sticks, and rotisserie chicken. We were better off for it.
A tip: Next time you go to Kiki’s, ask if you can sit across the street. The trick might even get you seated faster, and you’ll be able to share a juicy, whole-roasted bird layered with herbs and encased in almost-caramelized skin. If you’re a fan of rotisserie chicken—and who isn’t?—you’d be stupid to ignore this.
130 Division St, New York, NY 10002
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