With a commitment to fresh produce and a menu that goes back to the heart of the Mediterranean, Yaya’s Hellenic Kitchen is the perfect place to gather, share and enjoy.
It’s ideal frontage, upstairs on the Esplanade, gives diners a unique perspective not only in location, but also in cuisine. Combining love and inspiration, dining here is like an elevated version of the family table, with lots of share dishes, good smells and fabulous flavours, all presented by generous and proud hosts.
Yaya’s, as it’s affectionately known by locals, was established in 2014 by Greek serial restaurateurs George and Helen Papagelou. Originating from Melbourne, George and Helen first moved to Cairns in the early ‘90s and opened such iconic venues as George’s Greek Taverna and Basil’s Gourmet Food in Orchid Plaza. They are also the proud owners of Italian restaurant sensation Villa Romana, located directly underneath Yaya’s on the Esplanade.
Taken by the cosmopolitan and exciting bustle of this dynamo of a regional city, you can see the hallmarks of the pair in Yaya’s, bringing together the relaxed Mediterranean dining style with the freshest of local ingredients representing what you would expect in any small Greek seaside town.
The restaurant itself is a study in terracotta and white, where diners could as easily be in Mykonos as they could the tropics.
Led by restaurant manager Kosta, the team at Yaya’s are disarmingly and refreshingly laid back, providing top class service and ensuring that memorable moments are all part of the dining experience.
From traditional home-style recipes handed down through the generations, to well-known favourites and modern representations of Greek food, all their fare is expertly executed by the talented team of chefs.
Main dishes such as their moussaka and George’s tigani - a hot pan of barramundi fillets, prawns, mussels, calamari and scallops cooked in fresh tomato salsa with piperies florinis, garlic, chilli, wine, topped with feta - will warm your belly, heart and soul.
Mezedes (small sharing plates) feature the finest of these coastal favourites, such as halloumi, Elies (marinated olives), Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), Dolmadakia (vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs), calamari and Spanakopita, Yaya’s homemade spinach and feta pie in filo pastry.
No trip to Cairns would be complete without a visit to Yaya’s to feast on a cornucopia of special tastes from the Mediterranean and listen to the genres of traditional and modern Greek music, all while conversing over a glass of their specially imported Retsina.
Yaya’s Hellenic Kitchen
Level 1, Cnr Aplin Street & The Esplanade, Cairns