Don Coqui, Puerto Rican restaurant in Astoria, NY

Don Coqui, Puerto Rican restaurant in Astoria, NY

Astoria surely has some great gems that should not be ignored, and Don Coqui, a Puerto Rican restaurant is one of them. I discovered it last Sunday when we went for a tasting for dinner. This huge place is a restaurant and lounge with multiple rooms:

A first one, small, at the entrance, with a nicely furnished bar:

Lunch at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

image of Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

When we got invited to Telly's Taverna, we were thrilled! Jodi used to live in Astoria at the time I met her and this was my first discovery of Queens. In fact, we walked around and even went to her old place after lunch, trying to identify what was new and what was not. 

I was not surprised that it was a Greek restaurant that invited us: Astoria has a large Greek community and there are plenty of Greek restaurants there. 
image of fish display at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

The first thing we noticed when we entered in the restaurant was the fish display and the grill that was behind it.
image of fish display at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

They get their fish from a market in the Bronx and it definitely looked fresh.
image of dining room at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

After passing the first dining room, we ended up in the second one that was pretty large and full of Christmas decorations, with a tree in the back.

We sat close to the window, ready for a feast! But first was a glass of ouzo, a traditional Greek aperitif that is anise-flavored.
image of ouzo at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York
I just added couple of ice cubes in it and sipped it, not like milk for sure...

The first dish that came was Nana's green salad, made with chopped romaine lettuce, feta, scallions and peppers.
image of Nana's green salad at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

It was light and refreshing, however, I would have liked a bit more feta in it.

Then came three dips:
image of Three dips at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

From left to right:
  • skordalia (potatoes and garlic),
  • taramosalata (fish roe),
  • tzatziki (cucumber, yogurt and garlic).
We ate them with some bread:
image of Bread at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York


And some pita:
image of Pita at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

Both were grilled on an open flame, giving them a fantastic char.

I loved the tzatziki, but I admit that I did not really liked the other two dips, the skordalia having too much garlic and the taramosalata having a different taste than the tarama I am used to.

Later in the lunch, they served us some fried zucchini and eggplant:
image of Fried zucchini and eggplant at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

That were delicious with the tzatziki:
image of Fried eggplant with tzatziki at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

When I looked at the menu before coming, there were couple of dishes that I hoped they would serve and my wishes were realized...First was the saganaki:
image of saganaki at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

It is so interesting how every Greek restaurant makes it differently. This one was made with the cheese wrapped in phyllo and then pan fried. It was heaven! The cheese was gooey with a slight crunch from the phyllo. 

The second dish was the grilled octopus:
image of grilled octopus at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

It was grilled on an open flame, giving a nice char to it.
image of grilled octopus at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

It was tender and quite tasty, bathed in olive oil and lemon.
image of grilled octopus at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

The next appetizer was lima beans baked in tomato sauce:
image of baked Lima beans at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

I loved that dish, it was very comforting, the beans being perfectly cooked and melting in my mouth. The beans were cooked with onions that kind of neutralized the acidity of the tomato sauce and added a slight sweetness to the dish. This is a great vegetarian dish and a good side if you order a grilled fish.

Then came a spectacular piece of red snapper that was simply grilled:
image of Red snapper at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

Everything looked beautiful in that fish, from the head:
image of Red snapper at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

To the tail:
image of Red snapper at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

They deboned it for us:
image of Red snapper at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

And brought to the table some olive oil and lemon sauce that they made:
image of olive oil and lemon for Red snapper at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

The way the fish is prepared is by putting it in a fish grill so it can be grilled on an open flame and turned without any problem. The photo below shows a swordfish grilled as we were leaving, using the same technique: 
image of Grilled swordfish at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

The fish was very good: fresh, moist, flakey, the olive oil and lemon enhancing the taste of the fish. I never think about ordering fish in Greek restaurants, going primarily for the moussaka or lamb Yuvetsi, but, after this experience, I will definitely consider fish! 

Then came dessert: it was a Greek yogurt with preserved grapes:
image of Greek yogurt with preserved grapes at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

They did not make the yogurt, but made the preserves that were fabulous: their sweetness complemented very well the yogurt.

Of course, I could not refuse a coffee and got a Greek coffee:
image of Greek coffee at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

They added some sugar to neutralize the bitterness. It was stronger than regular coffee and there was a thick layer of ground coffee in the bottom. When reaching that layer, you know you have to stop drinking it.
image of Greek coffee at Telly's Taverna in Astoria, New York

Although I did not like all the dishes, I liked Telly's Taverna: it is a nice neighborhoody Greek restaurant that serves traditional food which I found comforting and flavorful. My favorites were definitely the saganaki, octopus, red snapper and Lima beans. Hey! That could be your next lunch when you go there!

Enjoy (I did)! 

Telly's Taverna on Urbanspoon
Telly's Taverna on Foodio54

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Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!