Yiannis Taverna Greek Restaurant
By YP Contributor

Traditional Greek Recipes in Edmonton

When it comes to traditional Greek food and fun times, the Anast family's Yiannis Taverna has been Edmonton's go-to place since the late 80s. Current owner and cook, Jim Anast, still uses those same recipes his mother brought over from the home country, decades ago. “That’s one thing about Greek people; they keep using the same recipes,” says Jim’s wife, Tammy. “When somebody gives you a Greek cookbook, it could be 100 years old. It’s like a treasure. It’s also opposite from North American food culture, where the food is really trendy. In Greece, they learned a long time ago how to make the best use of the ingredients.”

Greek restaurants attract a clientele who love to enjoy themselves and their meals, and diners can definitely do both at Yiannis Taverna. “Most of the people who come to Greek restaurants are generally interested in the food because it’s not food you can buy in a grocery store,” says Tammy. “Proper Greek food is very labour intensive and has to be made by hand.”

Before we were popular because it was a party place and a good time, now people also appreciate and value that our food is natural and homemade. - Tammy, owner’s wife

Belly Dancing Every Weekend

Along with the great tasting, authentic Greek cuisine, belly dancers put on a show every Friday and Saturday night at Yiannis Taverna. “It tends to make people lose their inhibitions,” Tammy chuckles. “We find the belly dancers help people understand that it’s okay to get up in the middle of your meal and dance. In Greece, taking your time to eat is something everyone does; it's important to savour and enjoy your food.”

Through eating, dancing and socializing, Yiannis Taverna guests enjoy a little piece of Greece on a nightly basis. “Greece is a country about enjoying yourself," says Tammy. "It’s incredibly beautiful there...we try to recreate that atmosphere. Music and dancing is a huge part of our culture. In Greece there is no shame, if you like a song you dance to it.”

Good Food & Good Fun

Through the years, Yiannis Taverna has built up a loyal clientele thanks in large part to the restaurant's friendly staff. “The customers are the best part,” says Tammy. “That may sound cliché, but it’s true. We’ve met so many wonderful people here. They’re coming in to eat and enjoy themselves, so people tend to be happy.”

Tammy believes her customers keep coming back not just for the fun, but also for the food. “People are a lot more knowledgeable about food," she says. "Before we were popular because it was a party place and a good time, now people also appreciate and value that our food is natural and homemade."

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