Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure
Great roads, superb food, good times - do we need more?
Without any doubt our most popular column. The Great All American Diner Run, or GAADR, gives our readers some of the best places to ride for a great meal. Whether it be some hidden barbecue in the Adirondacks or a crab place in the Chesapeake, the GAADR gives the very best eateries, and like most things in Backroads, we'll supply a super way to get there as well with our own Rip & Ride® Route Sheets.
I spent years living in LA - Lower Astoria.
It has been said that here in Astoria you will find more Greeks than in Athens. I don’t know about that, but it is the Greek capital of the United States, that is for sure.
Lucky me, as over those years I lived in a house owned by Greeks, had Greek neighbors and many, many Greek friends. In fact, as I only had a motorcycle back in the early ‘80s, it was a caring Greek family who lived next door that loaned me their car to bring my son back from the hospital after his birth.
Vasili, who I call my Wolf Brother (both he and his brother Bobby) brought Shira and me all across the Peloponnese some years back – one of my most treasured riding memories.
After all this, it would not be too hard to imagine I love Greek food.
But… I live in Sussex County, New Jersey these days, not Astoria – so I was very excited and hungry when the old General Store leading to the bridge at Dingmans Ferry was taken over by a Greek couple from Astoria, Anastasia and George, and they turned it into a restaurant.
Ahh, it was a great few years.
Then one day I rode over… and they were gone.
Somehow the diner gyros didn’t have that Hellenic flair and Astoria was a bit of a ride and about $25 bucks in tolls – not to mention riding in and out can sometimes be easy, sometimes not. Mostly not.
A few months back Shira and I were riding north on Route 206 – the Jersey Mother Road – when I spied a blue hand-painted sign.
Yia, Yia’s Greek Kitchen.
Yia is Greek for Grandmother and seeing this we pulled in only to find they were closed for the day.
A few weeks later we returned to not only find they were open – but it was our friends Anastasia and George.
432 Route 206, Montague, NJ 07827 • 973-948-8088
Oh, happy day – “real” Greek food!
It’s a family affair at Yia Yia’s. We took a table and their daughter Eva came over to make sure we were comfortable and to get us started.
Although we loved the old location, right atop Walpack Valley, the new place is a bit more comfortable and open. Long glass cabinets show off Greek pastries and trays of spanikopita – those delicious spinach pies made with the flakiest of golden crusts - found alongside homemade desserts like Greek baklava, flan, cheesecake, and rice pudding.
The entire menu is created with the finest ingredients. Yia Yia’s brings in the very best feta cheese, kalamata olives, and extra-virgin olive oil all imported from Greece. Their pitas are made the traditional way by hand and the Gyro meat is authentic and hand-cut. Anastasia and George’s appetizers are their own recipes and Yia Yia’s source local vegetables for the salads, their meats are purchased daily from the local butcher and, of course, the fries are cut fresh and cooked in high-quality corn oil.
Everything they serve is made fresh daily and on the premises, and it shows with every bite.
Start off with some Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) or go with what Shira chose - keftedakia (Greek meatballs) – a good size portion of the most flavorful meat we have had in a while. Drizzle on a little bit of tzatziki sauce and it is almost a meal by itself. Staying with the carnivore crowd the lukániko (Greek sausage) is also amazing.
Although the Greeks do lamb better than anyone, many of their dishes are vegan. Patzaria is fresh beets and garlic, oil and vinegar and kulukiythokeftedes are fried zucchini fritter with an unpronounceable name, which are great all by themselves or as a side dish.
Yia Yia’s salads are enormous and can easily be split four ways if you are ordering another entree. Most times I am a basic guy and I think gyro. The name is pronounced gee-ros, not gyro like the scope, but the meaning is basically the same – it literally means ‘turn’ and that is how the meat is prepared, on a spit constantly turning on a vertical rotisserie. To me, gyros are the perfect food.
You have lamb, bread, greens, onions, tomatoes, tzatziki sauce (which has a yogurt base and more good stuff) and sometimes feta cheese (if you ask for it).
It is all good to me and here at Yia Yia’s they have it down to perfection. George is a most excellent grill man, Anastasia handles the rest and it shows in every dish and daughter Eva is a gem.
Although we loved the last location, Montague is in Sussex County, New Jersey and this area has some seriously great roads to ride so we will give you a serious great Rip & Ride to get there. Kaló taxídi!