Taverna Kos

Pancoan Society Hippocrates Astoria
For years, I had passed the Pancoan Society Hippocrates in Astoria many times. Like many others in the neighborhood, it was a private club representing a region or island of Greece. This particular club represents Kos, an island in the Dodecanese, an island group in the Aegean Sea near Turkey. I was always intrigued by this place because Kos is located near Patmos, the island where my family hails from.

Taverna Kos Pancoan Society Hippocrates Astoria

Thanks to a recent post from Eat the World NYC, I learned that the attached restaurant, Taverna Kos was now open to the public. On a warm Friday evening in August, a craving for Greek food sparked a trip to this hidden taverna. The restaurant is located in a residential section of Astoria about ten blocks east of the N train. Finally, I would be able to check out this previously mysterious corner location.
Immediately, the vibe of the place transported us to the Greek Islands. On the television, there was an endless selection of Greek music videos and a mostly Greek clientele at the tables. The dining area is an enclosed porch-style setup with views of the street. Right away, we were greeted by the friendly staff and we sifted through the menu. This would prove to be the toughest part, as it was just two of us with a long list of appealing dishes.
Of course, we knew octopus was a must-order. Also, the loukaniko would be a mandatory choice, as we are big fans of the underrated Greek sausage. We ordered the pikilia, a mix of three dips. This trio came with spicy fetaskordalia (garlic and almond spread) and tzaitziki. We were all set for the appetizers, which was easy enough. Our toughest dilemma came down to the main courses.
At first glance, we wanted to order a whole grilled fish, perhaps a porgy. Instead, we decided on a surf and turf combo of two mains. First, atherina, fried whole smelts. Second, paidaikia, baby lamb chops. Each main came with a side dish, so we chose lemon potatoes and horta, steamed dandelion greens.

Loukaniko Taverna Kos Astoria

First, the loukaniko arrived, four whole pork sausages split open. Each one had a plentiful amount of leek embedded and topped with dried oregano flakes. The flavor of red wine shot through each tender bite. Unfortunately, loukaniko seems to fly under the radar compared to other more well-established varieties of sausage around the world. One bite of this one could change that perspective!

Octopus Taverna Kos Astoria Queens

Up next was the star of the show, xtapodi, octopus that we always have to order at any Greek restaurant. This large platter was full of tender tentacles bathing in olive oil. Unlike other tavernas, this octopus wasn’t doused in vinegar and lacked an overly salty flavor. We couldn’t get enough of this incredible main course-sized appetizer. This one holds its own against the stalwart Greek restaurants in the neighborhood, which is saying a lot.

Spicy Feta Dip Taverna Kos Astoria

Tzaitziki Skordalia Taverna Kos Astoria

Dips are a staple of Greek cuisine and their selection of three were well-executed. Tzaitziki was very thick and relied more on the lighter flavor of dill and cucumber. This was a refreshing twist compared to other versions that are runnier and heavy on the garlic. Often, spicy feta dips can appear in all different colors and flavors. Some are lighter and others are a bright red. Here, the dip was more gray in color, with dill to cut through the tangy feta cheese. Once again, this was a unique change from other spicy feta dips. Third, the skordalia was heavy on the garlic and lighter than other versions that sometimes resemble mashed potatoes. One gripe was that no pita bread was provided, although it was for the best given how much we ordered!

Atherina Fried Smelts Taverna Kos Astoria

Fried atherina are another favorite of ours, although it is difficult to find a version here that doesn’t have a fishy flavor. This is particularly the case when there are larger smelts. Thankfully, the order here was spot-on with perfectly crisp fish that resembled fries. Even though there were larger smelts in this batch, there was no fishy flavor. In Greece, my family and I would call these fish fries thanks to their addictive crispy texture. We couldn’t get enough of these, either!

Paidaikia lamb chops Taverna Kos Astoria

Paidaikia, baby lamb chops, are not a dish that we order often. They are usually pricier than other dishes, and it was no different here. But, the price tag was well worth it when we saw six perfectly grilled lamb chops arrive on the platter. The meat was tender, flavorful and we gnawed off as much as we could from the bone. Both side dishes were well executed, particularly the much needed horta to add some vegetables to our meal.
Customarily, most Greek restaurants offer a complementary dessert at the end of the meal. Here, we had a choice of any sweet on offer, which usually isn’t the case. We were overjoyed by the mention of galaktoboureko, the phyllo and custard dessert that has a bit of a citrusy kick. Although we were stuffed from our meal, the large slice was no match for us!
Taverna Kos is a great example of gems that are hidden in plain sight in NYC, especially in Queens. There are several social clubs scattered throughout Astoria, including a few Istrian clubs that are open to the public for dining. These types of establishments are extra special, as they cater to those who hail from the country. From visiting the Dodecanese several times over the years, I can attest that the food comes close to what I had there.
What are some of your favorite under the radar, hidden restaurants in NYC? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Taverna Kos can be found on our Queens food maps page in the Astoria map. 
Taverna Kos (Pancoan Society Hippocrates)
41-19 23 Ave
Astoria, NY 11105
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