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Maria’s Greek Restaurant

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Cost
R90 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual, Family friendly
Food
Greek, Mediterranean
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Katharine Jacobs

Food
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.

Drinks
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.

Service
Staff are warm, courteous and reassuring.

Ambience
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.

And…
The resident dog, Fire, may wander past on his surveillance route. We find him to be very amenable to neck scratches.

(May 2017)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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  • Sandiso Ngubane

    Food
    Maria’s is a hidden gem with a quaint, and cosy atmosphere, which makes it perfect for a night out with friends or a date. If you enjoy sharing, you will love digging into the mezze at this no-frills authentic spot where a Greek salad – paired with an endless list of delightful, delicious options – feels like something truly special.

    On their small dishes – or starters – menu are keftedes (fried meat balls with oregano), calamari patagonica, komesko (which is brinjal, roasted and marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and herbs), and a lot more. For a main, try the delicious slow-roasted lamb with artichoke chunks in a creamy tomatoey ouzo sauce, which is their signature dish. For lunch, pair it with a pita and a dollop of tzatziki – a favourite with patrons.

    There are many vegetarian options, as well as free-range chicken dishes like the yiouvetsi chicken with orzo noodles, in an aromatic tomato and cheese sauce. You have the option of either lamb or peppers instead of chicken.

    There’s a wide variety of seafood options, and desserts include wheat-free chocolate cake, kataifi, rizogala and yognati, among others.

    Drinks
    A wide variety of local wines, beers, and spirits.

    Service
    Friendly, welcoming but not the fastest.

    Ambience
    The place to sit on a warm evening is out on the square with fairy lights twinkling in the trees. The intimacy of this small establishment makes it a winner for winter, too. Inside, interesting lighting and whitewashed walls add a Greek yet contemporary touch.

    And…
    The upstairs space is ideal for a special gathering.

    (September 2016)

    Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

  • Jeanne Calitz

    Food
    Located in a quiet, hidden square in Gardens, Maria’s is a small gem of a Greek restaurant that, once discovered, is hard to forget. The best way to dine here, especially if you are in a group, is to get stuck into the delicious range of mezze. Order a range of these bites for the table and dig in. Favourites include the mucver (zucchini and feta fritters); komesko – beer battered aubergine and zucchini bites, served with skorthalia (a fantastic garlic and potato dipping sauce), kefthetes (flavourful lamb meat balls, accompanied by tsatsiki) and the Patagonian calamari, stuffed with feta, garlic, chilli and onion. You’ll find all the standards as well, including humus, taramasalata, spanakopita and dolmathes – it’s a veritable feast. Also worth mentioning is the steamed mussels, drenched in a creamy and ever-so-slightly spicy white wine and paprika sauce. On the mains side of things, the portions are substantial and, aside from a few seafood dishes, this part of the menu is dominated by lamb. Their signature dish of slow roasted lamb with aubergine and creamy ouzo sauce is a knockout. A special of the day, grilled lamb chops with a green salad, is expertly cooked – the tender, succulent lamb, with lots of rosemary to add flavour, goes down a treat. Dessert holds options like their ever-popular wheat-free chocolate molten cake, baklava and, a highlight, kataifi. This sweet baked Greek pastry, topped with a melt in the mouth custard, is absolutely scrumptious, the kind of sweet treat you order again and again. If your visit happens to coincide with load shedding, don’t despair, they do have capacity to handle it – the choice of dishes becomes a bit more limited, but the food remains delicious and service prompt.

    Drinks
    The short and sweet wine list offers good value and quite a few by the glass options. They also offer a nice range of craft beers.

    Service
    Unpretentious and efficient. Staff clearly know their way around the restaurant and the menu. When it’s packed (which is often), the approach can be a touch brisk, but the food en festive vibe more than makes up for that.

    Ambience
    Get in the mood for a relaxed, fun-filled experience. The place to be, if the weather allows, is at the outside seating area under the trees and fairy lights. Inside it tends to echo quite a bit, but the very convivial atmosphere is sure to find wide appeal, and it turns into a cosy space on colder nights.

    And …
    Do keep an eye on the black board for daily specials, they are almost always worth a close encounter.

User reviews

  • Had the meze platter at Maria's. Delicious and authentic flavours. The atmosphere and outdoor seating is fantastic. For dessert we shared the ravani and kataifi, both were fabulous. The ravani was especially good with a balance of sweet and tangy flavours.
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  • I dined on two occasions recently at Maria's in Dunkely Square. Once, without a reservation, but the staff were most accommodating and, with a little persistence to secure a table indoors, it turned out really well. The ambience and friendly staff make it a home from home. Wine selection was made easy, thanks to staff input, gently guiding us to the better choice. Service was generally prompt and certainly above average for Cape Town.The French speaking waitress was a bonus especially when it came to wine suggestions. The food was tasty, unpretentious and the right quantity, with the lamb (house speciality) great on both occasions. The bill did not detract from the enjoyment of the experience but rather prompted me to return and again. After a few years hiatus, it was a pleasant surprise to revisit a cosmopolitan corner of this metropolis and to witness the delight on the newcomers' faces.
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  • I love this spot. It holds special memories for me and my wife because it is the place we had our first lunch date as a married couple. Food is good. Service is good. Have been going there since 2010.
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  • The mezze was absolutely amazing! The highlight of our evening were the mucver. Book a table outside - Dunkley Square is beautiful at night.

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  • I have had many meals and parties in this restraunt over the years. However my last visit will ensure I never go back. I booked for a large group and requested outside, which was confirmed in an e-mail. However when I arrived I was told I was inside, that I had never requested inside and that they would never have allowed such a big group to be outside. When I showed them the e-mail confirmation they had no explination, all they could say was they could no longer accomodate us outside and we had no choice but to accept the situation. After which we made the best of the situation and carried on with our party. At 4pm we were told there was a shift change and that it would be best for us to pay up the bill. However the waiter would take one last drinks order and we could take our time to finish those drinks, he did so and we happily paid the bill. Outside was now free and we decided to finish our drinks outside. When we sat down, a very rude waiter shout at us for moving chairs around like a bunch of naught children. I would have understood if this was a problem, but at least handle it with respect. I approached the owner knowing who he was from my past visits, only to have a conversation that made me feel like I was being the most unreasonable client ever. I would highly recommend people stay away from this place as you are not a guest at this establishment just pawn to be moved around and spoken to as they please.
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  • The selection on the menu is excellent covering an array of traditional Greek dishes. Furthermore, the food is good quality and very tasty. However, my recent visit to the restaurant was not memorable for a couple of reasons: The restaurant does not have an official front of house who can assist your with your booking. I waited around at the cash register for 5 minutes until a waitress eventually came up to get some menus for another table. I said "excuse me" to her three times and was just ignored, so I gently tapped her on the shoulder and asked for assistance. She abruptly turned to me, and in a rude tone exclaimed, "I'm busy!" and stormed off. Luckily another waiter came up eventually and showed me to my table. Disappointingly, many of the items on the menu were not available that day. I will probably never go back to the restaurant again because of the rudeness of the waitress upon my arrival, no matter how much I enjoyed the food.
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  • We went for dinner here on Friday night, we weren't looked after well at all, it seems this place has too many tables for the amount of waiters. 15 minutes of sitting outside without any service. We only got served when I got up and went to go ask for service. Our drinks order was forgotten. we won't be back.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Dog-friendly
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • WiFi

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