The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Family-owned Greek local named Auckland’s best BYO

Campbells Bay local El Greco has been crowned Auckland’s best BYO for 2022, beating out the 11 other restaurants shortlisted to win the title and a $5,000 small business support package.

The North Shore eatery, owned and operated by husband-and-wife Kostas and Sarah Grigorakis, received the most public votes and scored highly with the judges, impressing with its Greek-Italian menu, relaxed atmosphere and exceptional service.

The inaugural awards, run by Leftfield wines and Facebook food forum Lazy Susan, were created to shine a light on the often-overlooked spots that bring so much vibrancy to Tamaki Makaurau.

Sarah says the El Greco team is humbled by the accolade and that it’s a welcomed boost after the challenges for hospitality venues of late.

“We’re elated and would like to make special thanks to all those who have voted for us, not least to our valued customers. It means so much to us to win and we can’t wait to bring our little piece of the Mediterranean to you all!” she says.

El Greco owners Sarah and Kostas Grigorakis

Anna King Shahab, judge and co-founder of Lazy Susan, says picking one winner was incredibly difficult.

“The four of us on the judging team had a lot of positive things to say about all the restaurants on the shortlist.

“From menus that read really well, flavours that sang on the plate, staff and operators who were amazing at guiding on ordering, and warm, friendly atmospheres, there was a lot to love about sampling this line up of a dozen of Auckland’s favourite BYO joints.

“In the end, however, one winner had to be crowned and our experience at El Greco matched the public sentiment.

“At risk of calling on a cliché, this haven of Greek and wider Mediterranean cuisine is a hidden gem. Tucked away right near the beach at Campbells Bay, it feels a little like a holiday in a meal – we say cheers to that!” she says.

Kostas is a home-taught chef who learned traditional Greek recipes from his mother and has owned eateries in Athens and his home island of Crete.

The restaurant centres on family and the décor transports patrons to the bright islands of the Mediterranean, with photos on the wall comprising portraits of Kostas’ family and home village.

Fellow judge and Lazy Susan co-founder Antony Suvalko says he was impressed that even in the most challenging of times the quality of the food at all the finalists never faltered, and that meant consistently busy dining rooms.

“We have to give a special mention to Try It Out in Ōtāhuhu, which was one of the top picks among the judges, impressing with its consistently delicious dishes that we want to go back and eat over and over.

“Similarly, Bali Nights is a fantastic feature for the Ponsonby-Grey Lynn neighbourhood, reminding so many of us how wonderful it is to have a great BYO to rock up to in the city fringe,” says Antony.

The other finalists for the 2022 Auckland’s best BYO awards were: Bali Nights (Grey Lynn), Big Fish Eatery (Penrose), Bunga Raya Restaurant (New Lynn), Canton Café (Kingsland), Faro (Auckland CBD), Golden Jade (Epsom), Nishiki (Freeman’s Bay), Satya (Grey Lynn), Sri Pinang (Kārangahape Road), Tianze Dumpling House (Sandringham) and Try it Out Restaurant (Ōtāhuhu).

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