Opened in 2001, Ana Sortun’s first restaurant has become enshrined in the Cambridge dining scene, and for good reason. Oleana combines Turkish-inspired flavors with fresh produce grown on Sortun’s husband’s farm. As of summer 2020, the restaurant is serving takeout and seating guests in its garden-like stunner of a back patio, where you can enjoy house favorites like Whipped Feta with sweet and hot peppers or the Spinach Falafel with beet tzatziki and tahini sauce. And while it’s not quite Mediterranean, Oleana’s Baked Alaska is not to be missed for dessert.
Yes, Mediterranean food is all the rage these days—and we can’t complain. While loosely defined and influenced by myriad cultures, you can always expect this category of cuisine to be fresh and packed with flavor. Whether you’re planning a soiree on the patio of an Ana Sortun restaurant or searching for a gyro to go, you’ll find what you need among our top picks for Mediterranean food in Boston.
Kava Neo-Taverna focuses on Greek fare, particularly shareable small plates dubbed mezedakia. Among this category you’ll find Keftedes (lamb meatballs), Garides Skaras (grilled tiger shrimp with lemon and olive oil), and Feta Psiti (baked feta wrapped in phyllo with honey and sesame seeds). Entrée-sized dishes lean on the heartier side, like Uvetsi (braised beef short ribs over orzo) or a Mixed Grill that bundles lamb chops, chicken and pork skewers, and Greek sausage. In summer 2020, Kava Neo-Taverna is open for takeout and patio dining.
The latest member of the Ana Sortun trilogy, Sarma is Somerville’s version of a meyhane: a Turkish tavern where diners gather to share plates of meze. In this case the menu pulls from across the Mediterranean, resulting in creative dishes like Brussels Sprouts Bravas with hazelnut migas, Sesame Fried Chicken with tahini remoulade, and a sublime Seven Layer Hummus. As of summer 2020, you can order all of the above by takeout or reserve ahead for a prix fixe, family-style menu on the restaurant’s patio.
Greek fast-casual spots have been popping up everywhere, but GreCo is still a standout. The counter-service restaurant chain from the owners of Committee and Krasi presently includes three locations: one on Newbury Street, another downtown on Milk St., and a third in the Seaport. Both serve crave-worthy plates and pitas with proteins like bifteki (ground beef), loukaniko (pork and leek sausage), pork, lamb, and more, enhanced by sauces like lemon yogurt, spicy feta, and charred eggplant. For dessert, order up a box of Loukoumas (Greek street donuts) that come either Classic with honey, walnuts, or cinnamon, or with creative twists: The Yaya’s version includes hazelnut praline and crumbled Oreos. The Seaport location also sells natural Greek wine and beer.
South End Pita
South End Pita reminds us why Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food became a craze in the first place: It can be fresh, flavorful, healthy, and fast all at once. This spot excels at more traditional renditions of shawarma and falafel pita rolls (and had the genius idea to combine the two in the form of its aptly named Shawafel roll). But for a bit more color, spring for a Combo Plate: carnivores have no shortage of meat choices to layer with seasoned rice and a crisp salad, while the vegetarian Sampler Plate overflows with falafel, grape leaves, hummus, tabouli, salad, and grape leaves.
Inman Square restaurant Moona touts Eastern Mediterranean mezza, serving Istanbul Grape Leaves, Chicken Bastilla in flaky phyllo, and Moroccan-style fish or chicken tagines. The focus on spices (“moona” is Arabic slang for pantry) also applies to their highly original cocktail program, which incorporates traditional ingredients like cardamom, sumac, and rose petal.
Founded by Ana Sortun and pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick, the Eastern Mediterranean-inspired bakery and cafe channels the flavors of Oleana into a more casual menu. Mornings at Sofra are for Turkish Breakfasts or Shakshukas alongside cardamom-laced Morning Buns and Tahini Brown Butter Donuts; at lunchtime the menu boasts a rainbow of meze and heftier dishes like Lamb Shawarma in addition to prepared foods, house-made snacks, and pantry items. Sofra is currently open for patio seating and takeout.