But there it is, like the tavernas of Greece, Yanni’s Greek Restaurant, which is filled with Mediterranean pottery, sweet smells of anise and lemon, and wafts of garlicky roasted meats. Owner Yanni Stavropoulos recently moved his business to Greenwood Village south of Denver from the restaurant’s previous location on South Quebec Street, where it had been for 19 years. Many of his staff have been with him for years.
Stavropoulos, a native of Athens, moved to Denver in 1978 after working in restaurants in New York, Chicago and London. Both of his grandfathers ran Greek restaurants, and they passed their passions on to him.
These days, Yanni can be found at his restaurant, greeting customers with a smile, a handshake and a cold shot of ouzo, on the house. The sweet licorice liqueur soothes the senses.
Don’t miss the spanakopita, flaky phyllo pastries filled with garlicky spinach and feta cheese. They are some of the biggest, fattest spanakopita you’re likely to find anywhere. Diners will love the mussels in white wine sauce, or start with a big bowl of tender, sautéed squid in tomato and white wine sauce, also served with plenty of garlic.
Yanni’s specialty, lamb, is prepared in many styles, from imported lamb sausages scented with orange and cinnamon to roasted, grilled and braised cuts of fresh Colorado lamb. On Sundays, Yanni’s chefs roast a whole leg of lamb on a spit over charcoal on the patio.
Traditional Greek main dishes such as mousaka, sautéed eggplant and ground beef casserole topped with creamy béchamel sauce, and pastisio, ground beef and macaroni casserole with plenty of nutmeg, cinnamon and Greek cheeses, are as comforting as they are delicious.
Lighter choices include grilled octopus, a tender delicacy marinated for hours in garlicky vinaigrette and lemon, and whole grilled red snapper.
What really sets Yanni’s apart is the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Choose from a large selection of Greek wines like citrusy Santorini and aromatic and spicy Moscofilero, both white wines, or popular red wines Naoussa and Nemea.
Yanni even offers a light, very drinkable retsina, an ancient style of Greek wine flavored with pine resin, which once was used to seal jugs of wine for aging before the advent of barrel aging.
Yanni’s dessert list also raises the bar for Greek cuisine. Traditional Greek chocolate tortes, baklava and Yanni’s special homemade baklava-flavored ice cream are all to-die-for. But if you want something really special, try the thick Greek yogurt generously covered with honey and chopped walnuts. Yanni strains his homemade probiotic bliss until the thick custard peaks almost like whipped cream.
If You Go
Yanni’s Greek Restaurant
5425 Landmark Place
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Open daily at 11 a.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. for dinner.
Happy hour (discounted drinks) 4-6 p.m.