It’s no surprise Maria’s has been around since the 1950s. You’ll resist leaving then make plans to return as soon as you’ve left.
The menu can be daunting, especially if too many options overwhelm you or if you weren’t quite expecting the price point from such a relaxed eatery. If you’re not looking to splurge, there are two routes available: limit yourself to one fantastic main course or try out several equally fantastic mezze.
‘Hake’ is listed beneath the mezze section deceptively simply – it could very well be the best hake of your life, flaky and enrobed in a crisp Striped Horse beer batter and served with a fantastic homemade mayo. The komesko comes with beer-battered aubergine and zucchini and skordalia (a garlic and potato dip). It’s almost too good – it’ll be gone before you know it. The vegan platter for one is a treat. The piling of dolmathes, garlicky olives, aubergine, hummus, komesko and garlic pita will make you feel like you’ve done something very right in life. Each element of the dish is pitch-perfect; light but bursting with flavour. Highly recommended: the hand-cut chips seasoned with rosemary. They have the most perfect crunchy exterior to fluffy interior ratio and, again, the small portion will present a challenge for how quickly you’ll find yourself scarfing them down.
The rest of the menu covers the Greek gamut. From souvlaki and moussaka to lamb chops with tzatziki and spanakopita, you’ll certainly find whatever you’re craving. There are also a few different types of burgers and pitas. Make sure to keep an eye on the specials board for more drool-worthy offerings.
The dessert selection is much smaller but still traditional. Choose between the likes of kataifi, semolina cake and kourabiethes (Greek butter cookies).
The options on the wine list are also pricey, but there’s a decent variation and most are local. Just a few are available by the glass (or, technically, by the carafe). There’s not much in the way of other drinks options.
Service is friendly but slow. You may feel forgotten at times and wish the specials were presented to you, but it’s a highly pleasant experience when your waiter is around, and the jovial owner is also likely to come around and check on you.
It’s difficult to imagine someone who won’t feel welcome here. Families dine alongside business meetings and trendy twenty-somethings. Choose to sit in the buzzy interior or relax in the sunny and spacious courtyard. The entire atmosphere is easy-going – there’s no forced association with Greece, allowing you to be subtly transported there by the food alone.
Spoiling a loved one who doesn’t like a fuss. This is the most worthwhile low-key splurge.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
If, like many people, you have tired of fine dining and fancy garnishes, you’ll find the antidote here. Maria’s serves hearty, flavour-packed Greek food that takes no prisoners.
The meze is the real highlight. The Kalamari Patagonica Mediterraneo comes in a tomato-based sauce that bursts with the flavours of all the best things – white wine, garlic, olives and lemon. You may find yourself eating the remaining sauce with a spoon.
Another crowd pleaser is the mucver (fritters): balls of courgette and feta, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. The crisp crumbs give way to a soft, cheesy interior. Heavenly stuff.
The hummus, as you might expect, is excellent: creamy, balanced and moreish, especially when scooped up on fresh, hot pita bread.
Assuming you still have space for mains, the signature Lamb Maria’s has a creamy, almost pudding-like sauce, and is served with lots of veggies and artichoke chunks. The moussaka is comparatively less impressive; it’s more homely but comforting all the same.
Another classic is the yiouvetsi, served with Greek orzo noodles, tomato and cheese.
Any ordinary person might stop at this point – portions are very generous – but in the interests of science, we order the kataifi. Fine strands of phyllo soaked in lemon honey syrup lie beneath a dense Greek custard, which tastes like the English version crossed with a cheesecake batter. A winner, as the menu rightly declares.
Breakfast is also on offer: think shakshuka in a cast-iron pan, Woodstock Bakery croissants stuffed with creamy feta and scrambled eggs with a homemade tomato relish, and bloody Marys.
The well-considered wine list features some gems that aren’t widely available from Miles Mossop and Babylonstoren, as well as affordable bottles from Waterkloof’s False Bay range and Stellenrust. There are also a few Greek wines to try.
Staff are warm, courteous and reassuring.
Tables spill out onto the cobbles of Dunkley Square, beneath twinkling fairy lights. The presence of two popular neighbouring restaurants adds a pleasing vibe to the otherwise quiet square in the inner city. Inside, it’s moody and dark – great for a date, or a rowdy evening with friends.
The resident dog, Fire, may wander past on his surveillance route. We find him to be very amenable to neck scratches.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.
The mezze was absolutely amazing! The highlight of our evening were the mucver. Book a table outside - Dunkley Square is beautiful at night.