Grexicana is serving up both Mexican and Greek flavors in Farmingdale


At a new Farmingdale restaurant, the house speciality is the combo platter.

Grexicana has pulled off the unexpected pairing of Mexican with Greek — on everything from the eatery’s name to its menu items, murals and management team. 

Owner Kallie Pappas is Greek. Chef Juan Cortez is Mexican. And their latest creation fuses the two types of cuisine in unexpected ways.

Think tacos with lamb and beef gyro meat. Or moussaka enchiladas — corn tortillas rolled with eggplant, meat sauce and topped with béchamel sauce and poblano mole.

“It works, it blends so well together,” Pappas said. “You gotta try it.”

Grexicana, which opened in December, is the product of kitchen brainstorming sessions between Pappas and Cortez. The two — who have worked together since 2021 at Dulce Cultura, a Mexican restaurant in Astoria, Queens — came up with the crossover concept while looking for ways to expand.

“We always wanted to venture out and do something different, open a second restaurant,” Pappas said. “I wanted to do Greek — but not just Greek.”

They ended up experimenting with dishes that tie together their two backgrounds. The results include feta cheese wrapped in phyllo and drizzled with mango honey and pumpkin seeds and empanadas that can go Mexican as well as Greek, stuffed with birria or spanakopita.

“We were like, ‘Wait, this is working, it’s good,’” Pappas said. “We let everybody try it, everybody said it’s good, so we started paying around some more.”

The once-farfetched concept has come to life inside a two-story Motor Avenue building that previously housed The Turning Point bar and restaurant, which closed in 2022.

“I walked in the door and fell in love with the place, I said ‘This is it,’” Pappas said. “It just felt like home, it just felt so warm.

“The bones were there and I knew we could add our touch to it and it would be the perfect spot.”

The place builds on what Pappas and her brother, also a restaurateur, have known their entire lives. Their father, Jimmy, was the longtime owner of The Village Den, a Greenwich Village fixture that Kallie Pappas described as “this great kickass coffee shop.”

He passed away two years ago and in tribute, his daughter has added “Grexican Shrimp and Grits” — tequila chipotle shrimp over sour grits — to the Grexicana menu.

“This is all we know,” she said. “Our dad, this is what he taught us.”

The restaurant is open for dinner and next month, will add brunch on weekends.

Pappas said the reception from patrons has been “great.”

She pointed to the impromptu review from a “Greek gentleman” who initially was not sold on the idea of merging Greek and Mexican cuisine.

“He said, ‘If I’m going to go for Greek, I’m going to go for the best Greek, and if I want Mexican, I will go for the best Mexican,” Pappas said.

She said he changed his tune after his meal.

“Then he said, ‘The two together, this is great,’” she said. “He was like, ‘Now, I’m hooked.’”

Pappas is certain her dad would approve, too.

“He would love this place,” she said.

Grexicana is located at 48 Motor Avenue in Farmingdale and is open Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Top: Inside Farmingdale’s new restaurant Grexicana. (Credit: Instagram)

Our Local Supporters