Kefi almost didn’t make it onto this year. Redesigned after a water-main break in the spring of 2013, it’s now a much louder, more frenetic place to dine, and the service is decidedly slower (I suspect they crammed more tables in). But since there are few places in the city where you can get food of this quality for such a reasonable price (most mains run just $10–$14), it squeaked by.

So let’s talk about that food, which is, in short, superb. Not only does Kefi do the classics well—creamy spreads on piping hot pita, perfectly grilled fish, tender souvlaki—it brings to NYC the more complex Greek dishes that aren’t usually seen on this side of the Atlantic. These include a flat pasta dish with braised rabbit and a salty cheese, and lemon-chicken soup that’s studded with velvety rice and veal meatballs. Desserts are also unusual and delish.


A warning: The house wine is just one step above cough syrup. Spend a dollar more for vino that won’t numb your tongue.