Alpha Astoria

2 german girls review greek cafes in Astoria Queens

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Omonia Café – 33rd and Broadway

Omonia is located directly across the street from Café Kolonaki which makes it the perfect setting for a romantic comedy where the cute meet involves googly eyes being made through the traffic. Omonia has actually already had it’s 15 minutes of romantic comedy fame – they claim to have made the wedding cake for My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- it looks yummy and devoid of Windex in the pictures on the wall. There’s a second location in Bay Ridge Brooklyn at 7612 3rd Ave. The people watching potential is probably better than that at Athens as Broadway is a busier street – we particularly enjoyed the vehicle watching.

This café has no outside seating, though all of the floor to ceiling windows open up onto the street. There were some gorgeous trees outside with pink spring flowers on them. The tables inside are squeezed really close together and we found ourselves having to carefully maneuver in and out of our seats so as not to knock into other patrons, and the back of Amy's seat kept getting bumped. The clientele was much older than that at Athens Café though this might only be the difference between Tuesday at 6:30 in the evening and (non-Greek) Easter Sunday afternoon. A sign on one of the windows claimed that a piano player performed Friday Saturday and Sunday – we’re less concerned that we missed the promised music and more confused at the lack of a visible piano in the restaurant at all. If, as would seem is quite likely, we missed a guy miming a piano performance we’ll really be upset.

We were impressed with the menu which was once again huge and busting with tempting dessert-age. They apparently serve homemade ice cream and we saw a family close to us consume what looked like a delicious banana split. There were, however, no “L things” on the menu but after some investigatory work we discovered that they were hiding under the name “touloumba” so if you want fried dough in honey you may have to modify your order from “the L things” to “the T things” – Greek desserts demand flexibility.

When we started planning this project we had decided to order the same thing in every café we reviewed for comparison's sake, but Brianna gained a pound last week and Amy’s going to have a hard time downing hot coffee come July so we’ve already broken that rule (we’re rebels folks.). We ordered a Greek Coffee, an American Coffee Float (With vanilla ice cream), Kourambiedes (K things) and Galactoboureko (G things).

The Greek coffee (~$2.75) will be keeping Brianna up for the next week and a half. Most of you probably think of a liquid beverage when you hear the word “coffee” – you are not thinking outside of the mug. This black brew was the consistency of thick mud. The flavor was probably much like espresso with a lot of sugar in it – not bad really, if you like that sort of thing – Bri found it a bit overpowering.

The coffee float (~$4.00) looked amazing, but the coffee it was made with was very weak and the ice cream overly icy. Amy added a package of sugar to this concoction but that should probably reflect poorly on her, not the drink. She likes her sugar a bit too much.

The K things (~$1.95 for 2 cookies) were the standout -- these butter almond cookies covered in powdered sugar and sprinkled with rose water were divine. They were very crunchy and crumbly and covered you in powdered sugar when you bit into them – we like any dessert that leaves a trail so that people we meet on the street hours later will be jealous of our meal.

The G thing ($4.25) was a slab of vanilla custard surrounded by filo dough. This sounds like a good idea but in practice it didn’t feel like the taste would be worth the calories. The custard was kind of bland -- so much so that we think the flavor can only be described as vaguely sugary. The filo dough was soggy because it was sitting in honey, which ruined the potential smooth/crisp contrast that we had hoped for. We didn’t come anywhere close to finishing this.

I suspect that where Omonia excels is in pastries (The G thing notwithstanding) – the have 3 pastry cases and everything in them looked amazing as did the cakes staked up in the adjoining bakery.

The bathrooms were again located downstairs (is it too early to call this a trend?) but we a huge disappointment in comparison to Athens. They had germ-a-phobe ready toilets with the automatic plastic covers but they were broke, the soap dispensers (non-automatic) were empty and the whole room seemed less than clean.

Service was very slow-- after we were obviously done, we spent a good 20 minutes trying to flag down someone to bring us our check and watched the boys at the table next to us do the same when trying to pay theirs. The only plus that gave us was the opportunity to make a friend (hi Justin!). Amy finally made eye contact with a waitress and mimed the universal symbol for “we’ve been sitting here long enough for our butt cheeks to fall asleep, please bring us the check.” but she immediately forgot about us (again?) and we had to perform another round of charades in order to get out of there. If it had gone on any longer, Amy might have actually finished the G-thing out of boredom. We were very glad to have exact change.

Awesome Astoria Activities:

Omonia itself offers one of the best pastimes in the area – video games:

Sure you have to wedge yourself into a corner near the skeevy bathrooms but they’re 2D! Fuck that 1D bullshit.

Overall we kind of wished we were across the street.

Food: 2.5
Service: 1.5
Ambiance: 3.5
Average attractiveness of staff: 3.5
Average attractiveness of patrons: 2.5


  • At 9:30 PM, Anonymous alia said…

    the piano is in the back of the bakery half-- there's a little stage space (we once tried to corall sam in it with some extra chairs... this was before he could climb onto piano benches or we wouldn't have dared...)

    and they do have outside seating ... maybe it isn't warm enough yet?... we have been known to skip the doors and just sit down at a table. it doesn't seam to slow down the ordering process any. (glacial either way... some things don't change. ;)

    as for drinks: i am a sucker for the sour cherry drink they make.

    it would be sweet enough for Amy.

  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger Harlan said…

    Another review of the pastries at Omonia (which I've never been to) is at NoshNYC:

    Just saw the article this morning, but it has some suggestions on the "G thing" and what-not! :)

  • At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think it sucks they way they hog a public sidewalk at that busy corner.

    The community board is out of control as they turn public space over to private interests

  • At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    omonia cafe is a landmark for astoria, no matter what people seem to think or feel omonia cafe, and all the rest of the cafes will continue to prosper and yes take over the sidewalks!!Food is good, coffee is good, pasteries amazing.

  • At 12:41 PM, Anonymous edava said…

    Precisely because they are so slow in getting to you, if you just want to sit and write, it's a great place to sit, observe and be left alone. I love getting free refills on excellent coffee-their regular american coffee is better than most diners around Astoria and the pastries are to die for!

  • At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is apparent that the reviewers are not qualified to critique this famous Astoria cafe. I have been going there for quite some time now. I am Greek myself so I know what the GREEK PASTRIES should taste like. If you don't, don't judge. Commercially, the pastries are untoppable. The place across the street is a mimic of Omonia. Furthermore, it only wishes in its dreams to attain the caliber of this Astoria landmark. Currently, it is going under an extensive renovation I have no doubt that the indoor and OUTDOOR of Omonia will surpass any NY cafe. It is a place that warmly invites people of all ages. Please allow me to elucidate our three reviewers, boiled Greek coffe must be stipulated by the customer if they want it sweet, medium or no sugar and by its nature has an accumulation of coffee grounds on the bottom of the coffe cup that is not ment for intake. If you do not like Omonia's Greek coffee you will not enjoy Greek coffee anywhere. Leave the ratings to ZAGAT. SEE PLAQUE AT FRONT OF CAFE.

  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger jonathan said…

    AMEN- to the last reviewer- not including the typos.

  • At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great pastries, etc.

    Service is really SLOW, but this may be simply because the waiting staff expects you to stay there a while.

  • At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Further to the renovation just wait and see what the centre piece is going to be you'll love it!

  • At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have lived in Astoria for 6 yrs, and now feel like quite the amateur at critiquing the various cafes, you guys are friggin hysterical! Yet one mystery remains unsolved: do the young/old men who sit at the cafes for the entire day have assigned tables?

  • At 12:50 PM, Anonymous hightea said…

    Omonia Café -is greek heaven in Queens. Been going there for at least 10 years. Excellent greek coffee and greek pastries-try the tolumbas, phyllo, custard, shreaded wheat patries are all good.

    Service is fast when ordering and can be fast on the way out too if you are friendly and pay attention to how busy it is and when your waiter has time to get your check. I figured it out long ago and just about never have a problem.


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