A new family-owned Greek restaurant is opening in Austin next month. Yamas will make its debut in the Highland Park West neighborhood at 5308 Balcones Drive starting on Saturday, June 10
The breezy restaurant will serve up coastal Greek and Mediterranean cuisines. This means dishes like fried feta with sesame seeds, honey, and crumbled roasted walnuts; grilled octopus in a lentil salad; marinated grilled lamb chops paired with fries; a fricassee of cod fish, greens, lemon sauce, and egg whites; and lobster thermidor with orzo. For drinks, there will be wine, beer, and cocktails
Yamas co-owners and couple Roxie and Hristos Nikolakos are from Greece, specifically the island of Rhodes. They moved to Austin in 2000 and had always wanted to open their own Greek restaurant to share their home country culture’s with the Texas city. Their daughter Mackenzy Nikolakos actually designed the restaurant’s logo.
The name of the restaurant stems from the shortened version of the Greek phrase “stin yeia mas,” which means “to our health” — essentially a Greek “cheers.”
Yamas chef is Dimitrios Kelesoglou, who is also from Macedonia himself. Previously, he had been the head chef of New York Greek restaurant Nisi’s Long Island location and also attended the Culinary School of Thessaloniki. Ingredients will come from Texas and the team plans on quality-sourcing others from Greece.
The physical space is meant to feel like a restaurant in Greece, with whitewashed walls, wooden furniture, decorative pieces sourced from Greece (vases, pitchers, artwork, a diver’s helmet, and other knick-knacks), and murals done by artist Aurora Covarrubias. The latter includes a giant octopus on one wall and an image of Medusa at the entrance. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas. The address had previously been the home of the Westwood Gastropub, which opened in 2019 and closed sometime in 2020. Hristos’s building company Greek TX gutted and redid the entire space.
Hristos was previously involved in the shuttered downtown Greek restaurant Simi Estiatorio, which closed in 2022 after being evicted (possibly by its own investor), with the general manager leaving the country, allegedly leaving workers unpaid. Nikolakos was part of the founding group involved with Simi, but he ultimately did not invest in the restaurant.
The restaurant is still hiring staffers. There are two hiring events on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 30 and 31 from noon to 5 p.m.
The restaurant will start off with limited service and reservations at the beginning, and will fully open on Friday, June 23. Initial hours will be from 4 p.m. to midnight daily. Eventually, the restaurant will add daily lunch and weekend brunch. Reservations can be made over the phone at (512) 243-7499.
Update, 11:21 a.m.: This article, originally published at 10:07 a.m., has been updated to include Hristos Nikolakos’s connection with Simi Estiatorio.