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A Slice of Santorini in ATX

Upscale neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant will transport you to Greece – with the food, décor & Greek hospitality

Yamas Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar opened late June and after only a week, the buzz was so loud and favorable that they were booked on OpenTable through the summer – a feat for any Austin restaurant in a season many seek a respite from the heat. The husband and wife co-owners Roxie and Hristos (Chris) Nikolakos were thrilled and surprised in nearly equal measure. “We didn’t expect this,” Roxy says.

The moment you walk inside the restaurant, the blues and whites of the décor dotted with pink flowers and walls painted with murals (the work of Cabo-based artist Aurora Covarrubias), you’re enveloped in the vibe on the Grecian islands. When you’re greeted by Roxie, Chris or one of their children – Mackenzy, 25, Jagger, 23 or Eris, 17 -  you’re embraced by the warm and inviting Greek hospitality. And when you take a bite of the food, your taste buds take you back to your last visit if you’ve been to Greece, or introduces you to authentic Greek fare if you’ve never been.

The family moved from Rhodes, Greece to Austin, Texas in 2000. Roxy was born in Austin to a mother who was Greek and a father who was American and split most of her childhood between here and there. She met Chris in Rhodes in 1994 and says they decided to settle in Austin once they began having children. “We had no plan, but we always wanted to open a Greek restaurant,” says Chris, “we tried several times, but it wasn’t possible.”

Although bad timing, failed partnerships and frustration paved the way to arriving at Yamas, both Chris and Roxy agree it was worth it, because Yamas, completely family-owned, is the restaurant that was their destiny. Greek TX, the building company Chris owns, oversaw the buildout and construction, Roxy and Chris designed all of the interiors with pieces sourced from Greece throughout the restaurant. Their daughter Mackenzy, who also serves as General Manager, designed the restaurant’s logo, at the local restaurant where every family member plays a role.

“We’re here every day,” Roxy says, “My job is to make everyone feel at home, it’s like an extension of my home.” It’s part of their ethos centered around ‘filoxenia’ – a Greek concept translating to 'making a stranger a friend.'  Chris adds, “We want to know the names of the people coming in, they’re our neighbors.” Literally, the Nikolakos’ live only a few blocks away from Yamas themselves. And, although a reservation may be hard to come by on Opentable, a few tables are saved for walk-ins each night and the bar is always first come first served.

The menu is a culinary journey across Greece’s diverse regions, highlighting the unique ingredients and techniques that make Greek cuisine so extraordinary. The kitchen is led by Chef Dimitrios Kelesoglou, a third-generation chef originally from Macedonia, Greece, and trained in traditional Greek cooking. Roxy says their signature octopus dish reminds her most of home, Chris says it’s their traditional Greek salad, which unlike many Americanized versions is served sans lettuce, letting the plump tomatoes be the star.

Some other signature dishes include the hot warm Cheese Saganaki, Fried Feta with mixed sesame, honey, and crumbled roasted walnuts, Chicken Schwarma served with fries, Grilled Whole Branzino and Lobster Thermodo served with orzo. There are also Instagram-worthy cocktails, a selection of Greek wines and a Baklava that alone will keep this writer going back.

‘Yamas’ is how people say cheers in Greek. Short for "Stin Yeia Mas," it translates to “to our health.”  We can’t think of a better way to follow a healthy Mediterranean Diet than to become regulars at this Mediterranean oasis.

Restaurant Information here

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 4:00 PM to 12:00 AM and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Location: Located at 5308 Balcones Dr, Austin, TX 78731


Reservations: Call 512-243-7499 to reserve your table. 

Social Media: @yamas_atx