There are loads of restaurants in the Athens Plaka,
Psiri and surrounding area. If you try these out
you will know what a good restaurant should look,
taste and feel like, and be less likely to get a
disappointing meal in one of the tourist joints.
If you have any faves you want to add, take a
picture and send me a review. Remember that
if you order fish it is often sold by the kilo so before
you choose make sure you know the price since it
can vary greatly from one fish to another. House wine (hima)
is cheaper than bottled wine and is often better, as it should be.
Vegetarians can find plenty to choose from even in the meatiest
restaurant. After you read this you may want to print it out and take it with you to Greece. Also take a look at my Guide to Greek Food at www.greecefoods.com which has a lot more information on eating and drinking and cooking too. Many of these restaurants I visit
once or twice a year to make sure they are still good and rather then write a bad review if a restaurant has deteriorated I just remove it from this page. The ones marked as Matt's Favorite, are the ones I go to regularly or every chance I get.
Restaurants In The
Plaka restaurants are touristy by nature which does not always mean bad food. What it does mean is a transient clientele and some restaurants have reputations for serving food that a true Greek would send back. The restaurants I have reviewed are the ones that the people from the neighborhood eat at too. It does not mean you won't get a bad meal because that can happen anywhere. But a bad meal is far less likely if you stick to the places that the
combination Ouzeri-taverna on the corner of Voulis and Nikodimou is
not exactly quiet, in fact its a lot like sitting
in the middle of a traffic jam. But the food is
great and the people who own it, Dimitris and his
wife Eugenia are entertaining and fantastic cooks!
Well, actually she is the cook and Dimitris is the
waiter. Try their always fresh seafood, octopus,
fried kalamarakia and galeos. Food-wise this is the
best of the ouzo cafeneons in the Plaka. They have
daily specials and pretty much everything here is
good. They have a special sausage called soutsouki
that has a curry flavor and this is what I get
often. If they have fresh fried gavros (anchovies)
go for that. In fact that is the fish of choice
for many people because it is usually the
freshest. The place is small and there are not
many tables but they make use of what little space
they have and you are close enough to your
neighbor to easily make friends. I could eat here
every day. Maybe the best Greek salad in Athens.
One of the few places that serves grilled sardines
when they are in season. Most people come here for
meals but if you get here during off hours there
is no better place to drink ouzo and eat seafood mezedes in the Plaka. Keep in mind that lunch is the big meal here, like many downtown restaurants, and they do their cooking in the morning so at night it is mostly grilled meat, fish and stuff made right then and there.
If Paradosiako is full you can just walk down Voulis street and turn right on Apollonos and go to #4 right by the intersection with Nikis street near Syntagma Square, where the son and daughter of Demitris and Eugenia have their restaurant, called Oinomagerio Paradosiako also very good, in fact this too is a Matt's Favorite!.
in grilled meats and fish and all kinds of cooked dishes. Many similar dishes to Paradosiako because Eugenia does the cooking at both places. If you want my personal opinion these are the best two restaurants in the Plaka. They are the closest thing you will find to home-cooking in the neighborhood. They are very particular about the quality of meat and fish they buy, unlike some of the larger and more popular restaurants. Both restaurants are small meaning unless you go at odd hours you may not find a table,
but since people in Greece are known to eat lunch at 3pm and dinner at 10pm your normal eating times may be odd.
is the restaurant of choice for many locals in the
Plaka as well as tourists. From the outside there is nothing to
distinguish it from the other tourist-type places
except for the great location in the small park on
Kydatheneon street, but the food is better and
influenced by the Greek clientele who eat there year-round. Make no mistake that this is a tourist restaurant though (as is Thespidos below) I like the spinach
their fish soup
which you can get it with or without a plate of fish.
Of course they have the Greek salad
-tiko), eggplant salad (mel-eetsana salata), yogurt
dip (sa-tzi-ki), and all the tourist standards. It's not cheap
but it's not expensive either. I love their roast
potatoes (fourno pahtahtes) and chicken (kotopoulo).
They have bottled wine and cold beer and ouzo and
mezedes. The menu is in several languages including
English. Look for strange and funny translations on
menus here and all over Greece. It's a high form of
entertainment for travelers. Galeos is not red snapper
which is what all the menus tell you. It's dogfish, a small non man-eating shark, kind
of a humorous translation. You can walk right in and
see the food. Either ask the cook or waiter how to
pronounce whatever it is you want, or drag your waiter
in and point to it. It's perfectly acceptable
behavior. These are some of the best
waiters in Athens too. Very attentive, fast and they
all speak English. If you go at night you may be disappointed because most of the oven-cooked dishes they make in the morning and serve at lunch are gone (or don't look as appetising). At night your best bet is getting something from the grill or salads. Fried calamari and potatoes are hit or miss. Your best bet is coming here for lunch when the choices are plentiful and you can spend the rest of the day people-watching. After lunch you can buy a newspaper at the
kiosk across the street and have a coffee at one of the cafes on the square while
reading about what's going on in the rest of the
world. When I met super-star travel writer Paul Hellander of Lonely Planet for the first time in Athens a couple years ago he wanted to take me to a special place he knew about. I was very excited thinking Paul was going to reveal a new secret taverna that only the most knowledgeable Greco-files knew about. To my surprise we came to Vyzantino where I had been eating for the last 20 years. But we had a fun time and drank lots of wine that afternoon and the photo he uses on his books was one I took in
Vyzantino. Paul likes the giovetsi which is excellent. Lately I have been
eating the roukforte salad, and the lamb fricasse is good and as healthy as it gets for carnivores.
you continue walking up Kydathenaon street past
Adrianou and begin climbing the steps past a couple fancy wineglass restaurants you will
come to this taverna that is not too
expensive and it is in a quiet
location that will enable you to forget you are in a city. Sit outside next to the ruins of ancient
Athens. If you order mezedes and a salad you won't
even need a main course. But if you have a large
stomach everything here is pretty decent and though you
will see other tourists around it is still
traditionally Greek and you will also see many
locals. If the lower areas of the Plaka are too
hot there is usually a nice breeze blowing through here. Last time I was here it had not changed, the location is probably the best of all the mainstream Plaka tavernas. I was surprised to see the same owner still working here. He was old when I ate here thirty years ago!
you should be lucky enough to be here before the
weather gets too hot you may notice several
basement restaurants. These are called
Bakaliarzidikos and they specialize in
fried codfish. The reason they are
not open in the summer is because with all the
ovens and fryers it's just too hot. But these
restaurants generally have some of the best
homemade wine (khee-ma) and the codfish
(bakaliaro) served with garlic dip (skordaya) is
out of this world. The tables are cramped and you
can tune in to the conversation next door as easy
as your own. It's very friendly and full of local
Athenians, expatriates and smart people. Just
about anything on the menu is good and your
clothes will smell of codfish for days to
come. The best Bakaliaro place in my opinion
and the one I usually go to is
a block from Nikis street on the corner of
Kydatheneon and Sotiros owned and run by George (photo) who comes from a small village in Arkadia in the Peloponessos.
They also serve steaks, chops and other Greek
specialties and have perhaps the best barrel wine
in the Plaka. They play good old Greek music and
have an authentic atmosphere that you won't find
in other Plaka restaurants. This is my primary
winter hangout in the Plaka. I always start with their smoked rega (herring) and several liters of wine from the barrel.
was my favorite restaurant in the Plaka. One of
the oldest Tavernas in the Plaka, dating back to
1898, this is where my friends and I spent many an
evening. Who cared if the waiters were rude and
got mad at you if you didn't order enough, or
spilled hot fish oil on my friend's expensive
dresses not one but two times. What was the big
deal if every time we ate there the bill was padded
with stuff we didn't order and never received?
Even after my friends and I one at a time declared
we would never eat there again, we always came
back, because the food was great, the wine
delicious and because it was on the steps of the
Plaka far from any cars, it was like being on an
island. They could insult us, not recognize us
after hundreds of visits, ruin our clothes, rip us
off and laugh at us when we left, and we did not
some reason Psaras went out of business.
now it is back, with new tablecloths, a new decor
(a whole new restaurant in the same beautiful
spot), new waiters (the old ones are probably in
prison or selling chestnuts in Omonia), new cooks
(the old ones were over 100 and probably died),
and food and wine that if not as good as the old
Psaras, is decent by Plaka standards. The menu is in English and the waiters and
staff are usually pleasant and often helpful. It's on the
corner of Erotocritou and Erehtheos streets up the
steps that lead from the Plaka to the Acropolis. I
Try the Cretan
Salad too. (Last time I was here I lost my phone
so ask if they found it yet.) They have taken over a couple other nearby spaces and it is not the hole-in-the-wall it used to be. This is a large, corporate-run fish taverna with a menu meant to appeal to most people and includes plenty of meat dishes too. It is a little more
expensive than most of the other restaurants on this page
but nice atmosphere and if you are a group they have room, but you should make reservations. I have not eaten here in years but since nobody has complained about it I have left it on the site.
For backpackers and budget travelers this small
taverna-estiatorio on Patroou street has been a
hangout since I was in high school and I was
very pleased to find it still open one night while
taking a shortcut from the Plaka to Psiri. In the
daytime the place is air-conditioned on very hot
days and at night they have tables across the
street in the entrance of a parking garage. No
maybe it is not the most romantic setting but
their homemade wine is excellent and the beers are
cold and they have a good selection of food on
display inside so deciding what you order is easy.
The roast chicken and potatoes were good. I had
the pork in red sauce and that was fine too. My
friend Dorian said they had the best beefteki he
had ever tasted. Dorian is prone to exaggerate but
they were pretty good. You can find
Peristeri by walking down Apollonos street
and turning right or down Metropolis street and
turning left. This is probably the most
authentically working-class restaurant in the
Plaka. Right across the street is the Aspro Alogo, a small working class ouzerie that opened the summer of 2007 and has attracted a small but devoted following. They also serve breakfast. The waitor and sometimes
night-manager is Markos who is a very charming
young guy from I don't know where. Thats him in the photo above at his last job which was at Peristeri across the street.
There is another old restaurant worth going to in
the Plaka called Platanos. To find it walk down
Adrianou towards Monastiraki. Turn left on
Mysicleos street and then take your first right
which is Diogenous street. It's in the platia. Go
inside and see what they have. Everything is as
good as it looks. Great place to eat at night. Be
sure to sit outside unless it is cold. This
taverna is popular with both Greeks and foreigners
who live in Athens as well as those who come year
after year. Next door is the
Greek Music Museum
is my favorite museum in the city. Each display
has headphones so you can hear each instrument in
context and in a variety of styles. Sometimes they
have concerts in the courtyard and when they do
that is the background music for your meal. If you
continue walking you will come to the famous Tower
of the Winds, right around the
course when it's 100 degrees outside, food only
becomes secondary. Still you don't want to eat
lousy food just so you can stay cool, so try
one of my favorite restaurants,
the square at the intersection of Kapni Karea and
Adrianou Street across from the wall of Hadrian's
Library. It has an extensive international menu,
is a good place for breakfast too and it stays
open late. It also has great coffee, cakes and
ice-creams and an extensive bar with all sorts of
traditional and exotic drinks. Not exactly
traditional but sometimes you have to leave the
past behind and embrace the present when you want to be cool. Triantafilos at 22 Lekka and the Epeiros restaurant in the meat market both are working class restaurants with air-conditioning. Both of the Paradosiako restaurants in the Plaka have AC too.
Downtown Tavernas with Live Music
I have not eaten here but my friend George at Fantasy Travel recommends the Old Taverna Stamatopoulos on the corner of Lissiou and Flessa streets just above Adrianou street. In the summer time they have a roof garden and in the winter the fun moves inside. Places like
Stamatopoulosyou can expect to hear several singers and see lots of dancing and most likely if you are with Greeks or are an attractive woman, you will be dragged on to the dance floor as well, which is probably one of the reasons I don't go there. If you are going with a group you should probably make reservations. They speak English. 210 322 8722. It's been there since 1822 so chances are that it will still be there when you come to Athens.
(I don't want you to get the impression that I am not a fun person but generally with restaurants with live music you sacrifice food quality for music especially in the tourist areas. However in many restaurants and ouzeries you can find one or two guys playing bouzoukia which when you are eating is probably more enjoyable than a whole bouzouki orchestra with amplified instruments.)
One possibility is Climataria Taverna (photo) in Platia Theatrou behind the central market which has good food and good music though you may have to walk through a small army of African prostitutes to
get to it. It is also an area of drug addicts but they probably won't bother you as long as you don't park your car there in which case they won't
bother you as much as they bother your car trying to get to whatever is in it. So if you have a sense of adventure walk down Theatrou Street at the bottom of the fruit and vegetable market and when you get tp the square it is on the left. Definitely worth going and it may be the best taverna food downtown and the place is usually full of young, hip Athenians so how dangerous can it be? You can also go up Mnisicleous Street which climbs the north side of the Acropolis from Adrianou Street in the Plaka
and as you reach the steps there are a number of 'tavernas' that feature live music. You probably won't be able to get to the top of the steps without being dragged in to one of them. Which is the best food I could not tell you but most likely if it is not too expensive and you drink enough it won't matter and you will have a good time.
Lower Adrianou Restaurants
If you walk down Adrianou street it stops abruptly at the ruins of Hadrian's Library. But if you go around the ruins it begins again just behind the Monastiraki metro station and there are a number of restaurants and ouzeries facing the Ancient Agora and the Stoa of Attalos. Most of them have a mixture of classic
and mezedes (ouzo snacks) and many of them serve pasta and some interesting salads. I like Dioskoro with 2 locations right next to each other and they serve a really nice seafood and meat pikilea. In the summer this is a good area to eat in because it is open and there is usually a breeze. Plus its a great place to people-watch if you don't mind having to pay the musicians to leave you alone every 5 minutes or so.
Most of the cafes and restaurants on lower Adrianou serve ouzo snacks, and some have pastas, and all have Greek food. The restaurant called Mouses (I think they mean Muses) on the corner of Adrianou and Ag Filipou has a large menu and everyone speaks English there. My friend Leigh likes this place. I think its OK. No better and no worse than some of the others. Probably the best of them is Diodos (photo)which is right between the Stoa of Attalos and the Temple
of Hephaestos near the entrance to the ancient agora. They serve a couple amazing pikileas (mezedes assortments) for
drinking ouzo that feature either fish, meat or both. It's one of the few places on lower Adrianou that uses the old style cafe tables and chairs. Delicious grilled sausages, Barbayannis ouzo and good service with friendly English-speaking waiters. Their efficient gas heaters make you able to eat outdoors any time of year. I would have to give them a Matt's Favorite! for their location, (view of the Acropolis), the
giant pikileas I mentioned, and the service. Its also my brother's favorite restaurant so I go here a lot. Also check out Poikili Stoa at 14 Agiou Filippou Street right around the corner from Diodos and James Joyce. Its easy to miss because the entrance looks like it's just a tiny cafe or snack bar but if you go inside you will find an endless series of rooms, all adorned with original paintings and antiques, with a piano as the centerpiece of the downstairs. But upstairs is
a rooftop cafe with a spectacular view of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephestus. They serve ouzo and mezedes as well as coffees and all sorts of drinks. And if you want to talk traditional American blues and jazz, the owner, waiters and bartenders are happy to oblige. Open day and night.
One of Athens best kept secrets is the food at the James Joyce Pub on Astiggos Street #12 in Monastiraki, one block behind lower Adriannou. The pub is an authentic Irish Pub full of authentic Irish people as well as Greeks, Americans, Brits and people of all nations. If you long for classic American style buffalo
wings, stuffed potato skins (great beer food), stuffed mushrooms, grilled veggie wraps, smoked salmon plate, and traditional Irish dishes (I assume) like Steak and Guiness Pie (amazing), Connaucht Lamb Chops, Fish and Chips, Galway Bay Grilled Salmon and Molly Bloom's Sausages and Mash. They also server burgers, pastas and a variety of salads and most importantly lots of beer. They open at noon daily and stay open late. Their big-screen TVs show sports from all over the world including NFL Football, Major League
Baseball and NBA Basketball as well as Cricket, European Football and whatever else happens to be on. I have included it in the restaurants section but to be honest with you this is the best bar in Athens so check it out whether you are hungry or not. Introduce yourself to Diedra and Tom (the tall guy) and settle in for a night of beer and conversation with whoever happens to be sitting next to you since they will most likely speak English. To find it from Monastiraki just walk down Hepheston or Iphestos (next
to the old metro station) to the end. Turn right and then left and it is half way down the block across from the big hole the American School of Archaeology left. Matt's Favorite!
Tripodon, (the road that goes around the Plaka
side of the Acropolis) connects with Epiharmou is
an ouzerie known locally as Kouklis. You will see
a building with a people-packed balcony covered
with vines and above in the 2nd floor windows,
even more people. Order a small carafe of ouzo or
their terrible red wine, a cross between Welch's
Grape Juice and Manachevitz. The specialty here is
Wait until the fire is out before eating. Also try
giant beans in tomato
and anything that looks good on display inside or
what one of your neighbors is eating. It's a
popular place for both young Greeks and
adventurous tourists and their tables can spread
out down steep Epiharmou street. The food is just OK.
Most people come for the atmosphere. It must be
listed in every guidebook so obviously the travel writers like it, but if you are like me you will find it and look below it to.....
below Kouklis on Epiharmou street is one of my
favorite ouzeries. Though Kouklis has always been
popular I have preferred To Cafeneon's menu and
ambiance, though there is not much difference
between the two in price. If you are sitting on
the street be aware that you are at a serious
angle and maybe not as drunk as you think, though
you will notice that things on the table with high
centers of gravity tend to fall over easily. The
same may go for you after an ouzo or two. On cool
evenings it is one of the nicest places to sit
indoors. This is a great place to come in the
winter with a fireplace and tsipuro that will warm
you inside and out.
A great menu of traditional mezedes, many from northern Greece. This place is more for Greeks, in comparison to Kouklis which is more for tourists and travel-writers. This is where Jamie Oliver filmed the mezedes segment during his trip to Greece in 2009(which I went to by the way) for those who are Jamie fans and saw it.
Vyzantino restaurant on the corner of Geronda and
Eperidou streets is yet another ouzerie called O
Glikis. I haven't been there in a few years but it
is popular with young Greeks not just at night for
ouzo but in the daytime for coffee too. If you are
looking for a nice quiet spot to write letters,
read the paper or just bliss out on your
environment then try this place. If you are not
sure what to order in an ouzerie, then ask for the
pikilia, which is an assortment of stuff from the
menu on one big plate or a saganaki which is hard
to mess up. You don't have to drink ouzo either.
All ouzeries have Beer and wine and soda too. Very
few tourists come here. It is mostly a student
hangout. (Right next door is the old taverna
Xino which is worth going to for grilled
meats and other taverna fare.)
Metropolis street and Ermou street right by the
small church of Kapni Karea is a tiny cafe ouzerie
of the same name tucked in a little side street
that is more like an alley. They make great
mezedes and it is a fine place to hang out and
drink ouzo especially in the afternoon when they
have a couple guys playing bouzoukia and singing
old Rembetika songs. Often you will come here and
the whole cafe will be singing along. They also
make sandwiches, have nice salads and is a good
place to come for coffee. It is really more of a snack bar than a traditional ouzeri but the atmosphere here is like the back streets of Pireaus in the thirties and forties and an afternoon here is a must for any fan of rembetika music. Order one of the pikileas (variety platter) for starters and a bottle of ouzo and plan to spend the rest of the day. By 8pm they are usually
closed but if people are still eating, drinking and singing the band will keep playing. And by the way, the musicians here are excellent. As good or better as those you have to pay to see at night.
For those of us who can't make it to the island of Lesvos as often as we would like there is salvation in the form of a small ouzeri-mezedopouleon owned by Yiannis Karantanis, from the town of Polychnitou. This un-pretentious little place between Omonia square and on the border of Exarchia is as close as you can get to the real
thing and you
may feel like you are on a side street in Mytilini town after a couple ouzos and some grilled sardines and octopus. Imagine that in July and August you can get fresh sardelles pastes from Kaloni! He also has a nice selection of clams, mussels, lakerda, fried and grilled shrimp, loukanika (sausage) from Polychnitou, koutsomoures, kakkavia (fish soup), fried peppers, keftedes (meatballs), delicious salads and horta (wild greens) and lots more meat, fish and vegetable dishes to go with
a couple dozen varieties of ouzo from Lesvos, or wine by the carafe. Lesvos is easy to find if you don't mind walking a bit. It is at #38 Emanual Benaki Street which you can find by walking up Panapistimiou (Venizelos) Ave and turning right a couple blocks before you reach Omonia (just past the Hotel Titiania). Its open daily from noon til late at night but closes at 7pm on Sundays which is a fun time to be here. Matt's Favorite!
Restaurants Near the Plaka
Epeiros in the Meat Market
time is late at night. A mixture of workers and
people who have stopped for a late meal after a
night on the town. Women in mini-skirts and high
heels next to butchers in blood-splattered aprons
and fishermen in overalls and boots. On stoves
giant pots of beans, chickpeas(rivithea), beef,
lamb, peas and potatoes are simmering or boiling.
Most people are eating
, a tripe soup endowed with mysterious life-giving
properties that the workers swear by. A few summers ago we had to spend a lot of time in Athens and
Amarandi and I would go to Epeiros
restaurant every day for a sort of combination
breakfast-lunch. I became very acquainted with the
food and I have to say that some of the best I
have eaten in Athens has been here. In particular
I like their mayeritsa which is a tripe
soup made with greens and an egg-lemon sauce.
Amarandi had roast lamb and potatoes and I thought
it was the tastiest lamb I had ever eaten. One day
I had pothi which is a sort of marrow soup
made from the foot of a cow which is considered
medicine for a variety of ailments. The broth is
sort of gluey but tastes really good and actually
made me feel pretty good. The meat was of a weird
texture. The word fatty comes to mind but
the cook told me there was no cholesterol. It just
looked and acted like fat and I had trouble eating
it but Amarandi loved it. Anyway they have a huge
selection and they are cooking all day and night.
It is also cheap. If you are on a budget and want a lot of food for not much money then go to the restaurants in the meat market. Matt's Favorite!
Patsa: The Wonderfood of the Greek Working Class.
Half the people in Epeiros are eating either Podi
or Patsa and many of these people look like they
walked right out of the fifties. If you are
feeling a little under-the-weather a hearty bowl
of patsa will fix you right up. Hung-over? No
problem. A big bowl of podi will make you good as new as only eating the foot of a cow can. Make sure you eat all the strange pieces
of meat even though some of it resembles indoor
plumbing. You're sure to feel better and it tastes
better then it looks as it cleanses your blood and restores your body. There's no better way to
start the day or so they say. Men from the butcher
shops yell back and forth and greet each other
heartily as they eat their podi and patsa and then go off to open their stalls for the
customers who will be arriving soon. My friend and
I did the Patsa test after a night of heavy
drinking. I felt better. He felt worse. For more
on Patsa see
my Guide to Patsa
To Kati Alo
When Rick Steves came to Athens last summer and he asked me to find him a little hole-in-the-wall place that he could recommend, within walking distance of the Hotel Hera where his groups usually stay he was in luck because the night before my friend Phil
LaVere, a musician-web
who has been in Athens for at least twenty years, had turned me on to one of the best little family-run resaurants in Athens. To Kati Alo is right behind the Acropolis Museum and is open day and night and serves the kind of home cooked dishes and grilled meats and fish made to order, that you will find in some agricultural city like Trikala or Sparta. Kosta, the young guy who runs the place, is an articulate guy who speaks fluent English. The salads are made to order, not kept in the fridge and served with icicles
like some of the touristy places. One of the specialities is grilled fresh farm-raised tsipura, a meaty fish that does not taste farm raised and for which he charges about 8 euros. Try getting a whole grilled fresh fish anywhere else around the Acropolis. He also grilles steaks, lambchops, porkchops, local sausages, chicken and usually has a couple whole chickens and kontosouvli (pork loin) turning on the rotisserie. Excellent wine from the Peloponessos and tsipiro-raki from who knows where? The menu is
written in chalk on the wall. It looks pretty funky but the food is good. Check it out. Just walk down Makrianni Street next to the Acropolis museum and take a right when you reach the first road that has cars and it is across the street. Oven dishes are cooked in the morning and mostly finished by evening so keep that in mind and go for grilled meat, fish and salads.
God's Restaurant and Arkadia
God's Restaurant on Makrianni Street, right next to the Acropolis Museum, has a big sign that says it has been recommended by Lonely Planet and Rick Steves. It is a typical tourist restaurant except for one small difference. It has really excellent food. We had the sausage platter which had a half dozen different kinds of sausage,
many of them Greek I don't know, nor did I care since they were all good. The feta-stuffed mushrooms were so good we ordered more. The roka salad had cheese from Mytilini. The octopus salad was excellent, as was the fava. Probably the best thing were the tomato-keftedes which are similar to what you get in Santorini except I thought they were regular keftedes (meatballs) until Andrea informed me that they were made from tomatoes. We went back the next night and had them again, along with the mixed
grill.The house wine was better than the bottled wine we ordered first. Not that the bottled wine was bad, the house was just better. It is a family run restaurant, with two sons and their father who bears an amazing resemblance to God, or at least how many of us who tend to anthropomorphise God probably imagine him to look, you know, long white hair and a beard, like Santa but not overweight. Anyway theology aside this is a very good restaurant. It is small though you you may not find a table but that's OK.
Go next door to Arkadia which specializes in food from the Peloponessos and eat there and you will be just as happy. The waiters at both places are young, friendly and speak English.
The Strofi Taverna at 25 Roberto Galli has a rooftop garden with a spectacular view of the Acropolis. You won't find a more romantic restaurant and the food is good too. (Call because you may need reservations: 210-921-4130)
So it is the end of your holiday and you are tired of Greek food. Yes this can happen. But you don't want to go somewhere boring. You want to eat somewhere that is better than what you are going back to at home, or at least as good if you happen to be lucky enough to live somewhere that has good restaurants. My suggestion is to walk
to Aelou Street, the pedestrian street that runs parallel to Athinas Street, and go to Mama Roux at #48. They serve American bistro style food which means you can get anything from a Nicoise Salad to Lox and Bagles, BLT, Burgers, Thai Curry, Pasta, Burittos, Quesadillas, Shrimp Tacos, Chips and Saldas, Tabouli, Steak Frittes, NY Cheese Cake, and they even have Sunday Brunch with Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, omelets and mimosas. At night it is a hangout with mixed drinks, wine and draft beers, some you
won't find in your normal Athens restaurant. They even have live music some nights. The whole area around Agia Katerini church is hopping at night with bars and clubs and young people so this is a good place to start your evening or come for lunch or coffee during the day. Great atmosphere and good music and friendly English speaking staff as well as free wi-fi. What more do you want?
Secret Underground Taverna
a fantastic eating experience, not for the
fainthearted try the basement taverna on the
corner of Sokratous and Theatrou at the bottom of
the fruit and vegetable market. Don't be afraid.
It just looks a little rough. There are no menus
but you can look around and see what everybody
else is eating. Most of the customers are men.
It's almost like a private club and it is a little
intimidating, but worth it. The wine is great. It
comes without even asking for it. The grilled fish
If you want to play it safe order yellow split
and whatever looks good at the next table. If this
place is too intense for you there are always the
restaurants in the meat-market. Another traditional estiatorio at # 3 Sokratous Street is the brand new Meidani right by the corner of Evripidou Street. Really nice red wine and a very large menu which includes just about every Greek oven dish you can think of plus bakaliaro me skordalia, podi, and some really filling salads. Unfortunately it is only open in the daytime. But if you are looking for a clean, air-conditioned restaurant with a large traditional menu and a few interesting entrees that
someone in the family who has tired of Greek food, this is a good solid choice. Very friendly staff too.
working-class taverna in Kolonaki has been a
favorite of locals and businessmen for at least
half a century, maybe longer. The first time I ate
there was in 1969 and the only thing that has
changed is the decor. Even the customers are the
same. Walk down the stairs, find a table and then
go up to the counter and tell the cook what you
want. The waiter will bring it to you. Excellent
wine too. Good place for lunch but there is no
outdoor seating. If you are staying in Kolonaki
this is the cheapest and best place in the
neighborhood and the kind of place to meet visiting academics and archaeolgists. In the winter they have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. As long as you are in Kolonaki
you may as well walk up to Platia Examani and eat
or have a snack at the Ouzerie in the park, especially if it is a nice sunny day.
Matt's Favorite! Cafe Boheme at 36 Omirou Street in Kolonaki is a bistro-style restaurant with a great little bar, interesting patrons and a DJ. Listen to cool traditional jazz and blues as well as stuff like Frank Sinatra, big band
and music that
your parents might have listened to if you don't. Cassandra Wagstaffe is the owner and host (and is the daughter of Wishbone Ash drummer Dave Wagstaffe). If you are looking for a small, intimate bar to make your home this may be it. As a restaurant it is the perfect place for a romantic evening or a special occasion, provided you get there early. Let's face it. Most neo-Greek restaurants in Athens pale when compared to their cousins in New York City like Molyvos, Pylos, and Ithaki.
They can be a little pretentious. Not Cafe Boheme, which in my opinion would be a hit in whatever city you placed it, whether it be NY, San Francisco, Paris or even Athens. Nice mixture of healthy salads, Italian pastas and Greek entrees and mezedes. Try the rouqufort filled mushrooms, seafood salad, bruschetta, and maybe the best horta in town. Grilled steaks and seafood and a pageful of daily specials may have you wishing you lived in Athens so you could eat here more. Walk up Omirou from
Stadiou street across from Kolokotronis Statue and it is just past Akadamias Street. Tel. 210 3608018. Go early if you want to eat on weekends because after 11 the music gets louder and the bar more crowded and your quiet romantic dinner may turn into a shouting contest.
inclination was not to include a Japanese
restaurant in a Greek Travel guide because who
wants to eat Japanese food in Athens? Then I
thought about it. Would I eat Greek food in Tokyo?
Yes, I would. Then my friend Ana kept trying to
get me to eat here but I was either never hungry
or "not in the mood for sushi". Finally I relented
and went with her to this tiny restaurant on
Apollonos between Voulis and Nikis. The place was
packed with Japanese. There were no tables
available and everyone looked like they were
having a great time. So I never got to eat there.
But if it's good enough for my friend Ana, and
authentic enough for a room full of authentic
Japanese, then it can certainly be in my Athens
Guide. Anyway Japanese people use this guide too
so this is for them. The Korean place around the
corner on Voulis Street is pretty good too. In fact Apollonos street has taken on a new persona with the addition several Asian restaurants including the Noodle Shop and a tiny Japanese supermarket called SOYA at #14 where you can buy all sorts of Japanese and Asian food products. People have been telling me The Sushi Bar in Pangrati is also very good. I have not been there yet but I will go one of these nights.
else in Athens can you get not only tiropita
(cheese pie) and spanakopita (spinach pie), but
aginaropita (artichoke pie), kolokithopita
(zuchini pie), kototopita (chicken pie),
prassotopita (leek pie), melitzanotopita (eggplant
pie), loukanitopita (sausage pie), manitaritopita
(mushroom pie) and just about any pie you can
imagine. In fact the one pita they don't have is
the infamous tipotapitopita (or
zeropita) which are found in many places in
Athens and have more pita than they do filling.
Ariston is generous with their fillings and one
makes a meal, two make a feast. For people on a
budget this is a great way to save money and you
will want to thank me for telling you about it.
The store has been open since 1910 and also has a
wide assortment of pastries. It's easy to find at
# 10 Voulis street, two blocks down from Syntagma
(Constitution Square) right around the corner from
the Hotel Astor. Some people say Souvlakis are the
national fast food dish of Greece, but I have
always been a fan of spanakopita. So it's not a
restaurant but you can certainly get a decent meal
here and a cheap and healthy one at that. If you are on a budget you can get one of these for less than 2 euros. Two of these is a full meal.
To Triantafilo Tis Nostimias-Paradosiako Cafeneon
This little hole-in-the-wall is a gem of a restaurant and to be honest with you I would never have discovered it myself. Elias at Swift-Rent-A-Car took me here, one of several great restaurants he has turned me on to, among them the Paradosiako
Cafeneon on Voulis (above) and
the amazing fish taverna in Neos Chios near Nafplion called Tsakiris. The guy knows good food. Finding this restaurant may be a bit of a problem for those unfamiliar with Athens but it is in a small arcade at 22 Lekka Street right across the street from the Achileos Hotel. The owner, whose name is Triantafillo, which means 'rose' comes from the town of Petra in Lesvos and serves only fresh fish which he picks out daily from the central market just a few blocks away, oven baked dishes, fresh meat and lots
of salads and dips. There are specials every day depending on what looked good at the market and what is in season. Try the thrapsala (cuttlefish) grilled or fried, or the koutsoumoura or barbounia (red mullet) fried. Delicious fava (yellow split pea dip), horta (boiled wild greens), broccoli, and incredible bean soup with a little bit of a kick to it though not so spicy that even timid eaters can't handle it. Its only open until 6pm but if there are people enjoying themselves
he will stay open as long as
they are having fun and people do have fun here. Great place for ouzo and mezedes on a rainy day. One of the few restaurants that carries Psaropoula Ouzo from Mytilini. Good wine too. Triantafillo speaks English and you can call for directions. 210 322 7298.
Oikonomou Taverna in Petralona
If you are looking for a typical working class taverna in an almost typical working class neighborhood journey to Ano Petralona to the Oikonomou Taverna on the corner of Troon and Kydantinon Streets. Located in an old neo-classical house, with outdoor seating right on the street, this restaurant specializes in cooked dishes like stifado,
roast lamb and even baked potatoes plus a variety of meat and vegetable dishes in an atmosphere that is unpretentious and friendly. The wine is excellent, in fact it is so good that the first time I went to Oikonomou Taverna I left my camera on my chair. That would have been bad enough but Andrea had asked me to pick up some earrings that were being repaired for my mother-in-law and they were in the camera case. When I woke the next morning and realized I had left it in the taverna I walked from
the Attalos all the way to Ano Petralona. (I ran actually) But the only person there was an Albanian cleaning lady. She told me to come back later. I came back later several times. Finally I spotted the owner coming back from the market with bags of fresh vegetables (good sign right?). He asked me to wait in the foyer while he went into the kitchen. I was really sweating it out too. He returned with the camera and a big smile on his face, though not as big as the smile on mine. I was almost weeping with happiness.
Not over the camera but the earrings. I had spent hours rehearsing how I would tell Andrea I had lost them. When I was able to admit what happened she told me they were worthless. Oh well. At least I had my camera and that's when I took this photo of Kostas, the owner of the taverna. If you see him tell him thanks again from me. The Taverna is popular and reservations are a good idea. You can call 210 346-7555. You should just write the name and address on a piece of paper and give it to a taxi
driver. But if you are adventurous do this: Take the metro towards Pireaus and get off at Petralona. Cross over the tracks and walk up the hill to Troon St and make a left. Don't make the mistake of turning on Troon Ierarchon. That's not the right street. Troon is a couple more blocks up. If they are full don't panic....
Just cross Kidantidon Street and go to Sinoikia To Oniero which is a very nice ouzerie-restaurant. Across Troon street is the Pleiades Paradosiako Cafeneon which serves excellent mezedes including one of the best meze platters I have ever seen. The best thing is the baked potato with cheese which is almost like fondue, a gloppy delicious mess of potato and melted cheese. Also recommended are the keftedes (meatballs) and the loukaniko (sausage)
and the fava
(split-pea dip). Lots of stuff for vegetareans too. The whole neighborhood is full of cafes and restaurants that few tourists ever see. Check out Chez Lucien Rotisserie and French Cuisine, probably the best small French restaurant in Athens and it is definitely small. They have a large communal table that seats about 8 to 10 people and a couple smaller tables and thats it so try to get there by 8pm if you want a table.
Psiri Restaurants and Ouzeries
are a number of restaurants and traditional
the area really jumps on Friday and Saturday
nights. But any night you go there are bars and
restaurants and cafes that offer mostly
traditional Greek food, but not exclusively. The
area of Psiri begins where Ermou street and
Athinas streets meet in Monastiraki. If you are
walking down Ermou from Syntagma it will be on
your right past Athinas street. If you are walking
down Athinas from Omonia it will be on your right
before you get to Ermou and the square at
Monastiraki. If you are staying at the Hotel Attalos or
Cecil Hotels you are right on the edge of
Psiri. When you first enter the area you will wonder if you are in the right place and whether you will come out alive. There are closed shops and graffiti everywhere and if you are a naturally timid person you may be quite frightened by your surroundings. But if you push on half a block or so you will be rewarded and by the end of the night you will feel quite comfortable here. If you are worried, many of the restaurants are open in the daytime too.
you are walking down Ermou and make your first right after Athinas Street and walk up Maioulis Street you will pass a number of cafe-bars, often full of people creating this sort of buzz as voices reflect off the buildings in the narrow streets of Psiri. The first place that opened was Rebecca
of my favorite hangouts, but as they got more and more popular the food became less important and eventually I stopped going there. The pikilia even when at its best was a messy pile of
different mezedes, some good some not so great that by the time you are half way through it you don't want to eat anymore and you start offering it to the gypsies who come to your table to try to sell you flowers or the Africans wth their CDs. We
usually came here to drink and talk and the
food was to keep us from getting too smashed on the ouzo. But it was the most happening place in Psiri and because of it, one similar place after another opened up and now you have a whole scene. Rebecca actually began as a small shop that brought coffees to the workshops in the neighborhood back in the days when Psiri was still primarily industrial. The kids have pretty much taken over this street so if you are an older person you may feel out of place. If you are young you will probably love
it, if not for the food then for the atmosphere which buzzes at night. Last time I walked by there were people with hookahs and not many eating. For decent food in a less raunchy-underworld atmosphere try Iliosporo
right by the square. In the winter have a glass of their
rakimilo, which is hot raki mixed with
honey. They make a fantastic Cretan Salad called
Dakos. Delicious marinated anchovies.
If you walk from the square up Agion Anargyron street
to the next square there are two or three more ouzeries. Nikitas opposite the church is as reliable, friendly and cheap as ever. One of the last such in Psyrri. Nikitas calls itself a psitopolío but they’re really a proper
oinomayerio, always with several dishes of the day. Their biftekia aren’t bad
either. They usual have a good eggplant dish on offer. The outdoor
tables are much in demand in fine weather. The worst thing about them is
that they close at about 7.30pm. If you walk town Takis
street and take your first left and then your next
right you will come to the
is like being on the island. It is hard to find
but worth it when you do. Naxos is less expensive
than most of the Psiri ouzeries. They serve
grilled octopus and soupia (cuttlefish) and
specialize in the food of Naxos. Right across the
street from the church is another ouzerie which I
forget the name of but you can recognize it from
the photo if you go looking for it. It is on
Kristokoupidou street. This place is pretty good
too and less crowded than Naxos. Around the corner
on Aisopou street is a restaurant called
Oineas which is decorated with colorful
cans and bottles and has a great selection of
mezedes, salads and main courses and an extensive
wine list. It is Psiri-priced which means you will
pay a little more than restaurants in other parts
of Athens but unless you are a frugal
traveler trying to get by on your parents battered
copy of Greece on $5 A Day who does not
normally go out to dinner, even at home, the cost
of meals in most Psiri places will be what you pay
in a good restaurant anywhere in Europe or
For ouzo and simple mezedes this is my favorite place in Psiri. It is a little difficult to find but I am going to try to give
you some directions. It is on the corner of
Evis and N Apostoli street and we call it 'the
BabaTzim place' because they are one of the
few places that carries Ouzo BabaTzim from Serres,
one of the best and purest ouzos. They have a
really nice selection of meat, fish and vegetable
mezedes. Its a limited menu that changes weekly though there are a few staples that you can usually count on like fried shrimp, grilled soupia (cuttlefish), rokka-tomato salad, hummus, souzoukia (spicy sausage) and a few other things. The easiest way to find it is to walk
from Monastiraki down Ermou (away from Syntagma)
and take a right on N. Apostoli where it connects
with Leokourou. It is about a block up. You will
recognize it because there will be a guy with
glasses who looks like Elvis Costello cooking and
if you go inside they will have a shelf with ouzo.
If one of the ouzos is Babatzim you are in the
right place. You can also find it by going down
Takis street and turning left on N Apostoli. The
real name is Cafeneon Evi and when I am in
Athens I am here most nights. Chances are you
won't find a seat because there are only about a
The best taverna in Psiri is the oldest taverna in
Psiri and that is the Taverna Tou
Psiri. Owned by Manolis, this traditional
working-class taverna was not on my website until
now because I had taken an oath of silence from my
friend Ana who promised to take me to the best
taverna in Athens as long as I did not put it on
my website. The best paidakia (lamb chops) in
Athens, some say, and delicious keftedes (meat
balls) Kolokithea keftedes (fried zucchini balls),
broccoli and cauliflower salad, strong sadziki,
great music and the best atmosphere. This is where
I had my 49th birthday party and many other big
get-togethers. Because the restaurant is slow in
the summer and because Manolis added an outdoor
garden, Ana told me it was OK to include the
restaurant on my website. Finding it won't be easy
though. It is on Aiskilou 12 just up the street
from Platia Iroon. One more thing. Go
easy on the wine at Taverna Psiri. It tastes good
but it packs a punch. The day after my birthday I
could barely get out of my bed. Now I mix mine
with 7-up or soda-water. But taverna Psiri is the
kind of place where anything can happen. For those staying at the Hotel Attalos this is the closest good taverna. Tourists may go here but this is not a tourist restaurant.
Right next door to Taverna Psiri is another similar restaurant that serves grilled meat and fish as well as oven cooked dishes. Oinopoleion was actually a taverna in the town of Spata (where the airport is) that opened in 1928 and moved to the space abandoned when Taverna Psiri moved to its new building next door. The servings are
large and not expensive. Try the politiki salata which is a spicy slaw style salad from Thessaloniki. Their grilled sausages are great as is the tigania, a spicy sauteed pork and their paidaikia are good too. The best thing I have eaten there is the roast lamb shank with potatoes. They have their own xima: wine from the barrel, including retsina which I think is pretty good. I like the stronger retsina, the more vulgar the better, but this is subtle and probably a good introduction
for people who want to try it. It's not really from the barrel. Most likely from a box or plastic jug but it is still decent. That is because the restaurant is owned by Markou Winery and if you go into the basement there is
a selection of their bottled wine for sale. On Thursday nights they have live music, un-amplified so you can still talk but dynamic enough so that people get up and dance and keep dancing until 3 or 4am. There are also tables out front if you like to people watch and a garden with tables in the back.
Krasopoulio tou Kokora is one of the oldest restaurants in Psiri, one of the first five or six that opened in the nineties and the restaurant space itself used to be an historic music taverna, dating back to the mid nineteenth century. It is a small cozy restaurant with outdoor seating and the inside
looks like a museum, full of antiques and old advertisements. The food is excellent and inexpensive. For meat eaters try the meat pikilea which for 17 euros will easily feed two people, three if you order an appetiser or one of their giant salads. The grilled plevrota mushrooms are really good as are any of the grilled meat and vegetable dishes. Be sure to order at least one bottle of Kexrimpari Retsina from Thessaloniki, the only restaurant that I have found that serves it. If you have yet
to try retsina this might be the one to start with. It is mild and delicious, though still definitely retsina. If you don't have the courage there is a large wine list to choose from as well as ouzo and tsipuro and plenty of mezedes to go with them. To find it just walk from Iroon Square down Giorgiou Kariaskaki Street and take your second right. You can't miss it. That's Yiannis, the owner. Matt's Favorite!
A few steps further and you will come to Gostigo which is Athens only kosher restaurant. A little more elegant looking than the other Psiri restaurants the prices are reasonable and there is even a small kosher shop inside. If you continue on to Takis Street and make a left you will come to a small hole-in-the-wall ouzeri with very good food, called Mavros Gatos. Great place for ouzo or tsipuro and meze. Try their regasalata (herring salad),
the keftedes (meatballs) and the marinated octopus. Actually try everything. It is all good and it is one of the nicest little ouzerie-mezedopoulions you will find in Athens.
On the far side of Psiri near Platia Koumondourou
on the corner of Evripidou and Epikourou is a
restaurant that few tourists have seen. It is
called Telis and their specialty is grilled
pork chops or in Greek: hirino
brizoles. In fact except for salad and
fried potatoes that is about all they serve. But
people come from all over to eat here during the
day. If it is closed or full you can go next door
and they serve nothing but hirino brizoles too. So
if you are in the mood for pork-chops this is
where to come to. This area is also known for its
Indian restaurants but most people are a little
nervous because the streets are dark and seem
scary. They are not as scary as they look but if
you want to feel safer come down here in the
daytime. There are also lots of Chinese,
Indian and Arabic food and clothing
If you follow Ermou Street down past Monastiraki Square it comes to an end at a small church called Ag Asomaton. From that point on it is a pedestrian street/park that continues down past the Keramikos Archaeological site on your right, ending at Pireos Street and the old Athens Gas Works. If you go left and then make an
you will come to the area known as Gazi (You can also take the metro and it is the stop after Monastiraki on the #3 Metro line.) Wander around and you will find a large variety of restaurants, ouzeries, cafes, bars and hangouts. Try The Butcher Shop at 19 Persephoni street which is a 'traditional' psistaria specializing in grilled meats. They have a large and varied menu and were probably my favorite new discovery of the summer of 2007. If you are a vegetarian don't fret. They have lots of salads
too! But you can't beat
their paidakia (lamb chops) and their choice of sausages and cheeses from all over Greece. Try the loukaniko agrioxoirou which is wild boar sausage. The eggs, chicken and even the wild boar are organic or all-natural. All the meats are from Greece. If you are not into meat then right next door is Sardeles, which seems to be the same owner and is as good as the Butcher Shop though it has only fish. I had the fried koutsomoures which were so small you could eat them whole. Delicious
fried shrimp, grilled thrapsala (cuttlefish), white tarama salata, and of course grilled sardines. These
two Gazi restaurants are as good or better than anything you will find in Psiri or the Plaka. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com If you want to go to a nice little ouzerie-cafeneon with good mezedes and a young
bohemian clientele check out Gazochori on the corner of Persephone and Dekeleon right by the metro station.
Both The Butcher Shop and Sardelles are a Matt's Favorite!
Athiri answers the age old question: Can we find gourmet cooking in Athens for 25 euros a person? Yes, we can.
Athiri offers on weekdays a surprise 7 COURSE MENU and a BOTTLE of
the famous robust wine Paraga kiryianni (bottle for 2). The restaurant has been winning gourmet food awards since 2005. Alexander and his kitchen staff do not use cooking powders, canned food or a microwave oven. All desserts are made at Athiri in collaboration with pastry chef Theodore Moysides. They bake their own bread. The olive oil is organic, from Crete. The sunflower oil is refined and demargarinated. All meats, seafood and fish are fresh. "Alexandros
Kardasis is always looking to broaden his repertoire with new wave
Greek specialities, which breathe new life into the national culinary
corpus.” (Athinorama MAGAZINE). Athiri is at Plateon 15, Keramikos off Pireos Street across from the Keramikos archaeological site. You can e-mail them for directions from your hotel.
Fokionos Negri Restaurants
long pedestrian street in Kypseli with many cafes,
lots of young people and a couple restaurants that
I really like. Any one of these is a Matt's Favorite! In fact I probably eat out in Kyspeli three or four nights a week. The best of them is Mpakalogatos if you have to choose one.
Faidra at Foikinos Negri # 70 is an excellent neighborhood estiatorio-taverna-mezodopouleon with a large menu of fresh seafood, grilled meats, oven dishes and lots of appetisers. Stuffed cabbage, tender grilled octopus,
and reasonably priced fried barbounia They
even have mayeritsa. Another great place in Fokionos Negri is
#60. It is a Mezedopoleo-Ouzerie that specializes
in fish but has a very wide menu and delicious
food. Like Faidra you can sit outdoors or indoors. If you are
inside you will feel like you are in a cozy Greek
island fish taverna on a cold day. Outside you can
watch the parade of people walking by and enjoy
fried gavros, grilled octopus, boiled beets, and
so many varieties of fish you will start looking
around for the fishing boats. They also have a
large selection of grilled steaks, chops and
salads. This restaurant has been here since 1961
and if you are adventurous enough to get out of
the tourist section of Athens I think you will be
quite pleased. This is another of my regular
stops. Another good restaurant on Fokionos is called Mezedomaxies. Similar to Violetta and Faidra with an emphasis on fresh fish and grilled meats as well as a large selection of salads and mezedes this combination mezedopoulion-estiatorion is a great place to come on a sunny afternoon to have a lingering lunch with some wine, beer, ouzo or tsipuro. I can also say with confidence that any of the above restaurants will have better
than just about anything you will find in the Plaka or Psiri.
Right next door to Faidra at #72 is O Mpakalogatos, brought to you by the same people who had To Tsipuradiko, one of the first and best of the traditional-modern mezedopoulions in Athens.
Their new restaurant
offers a larger selection of mezedes for ouzo, tsipuro, raki and wine drinkers as well as a number of interesting entrees including several pasta dishes, grilled meats and fish and other specialities, cooked and presented in a neo-Greek style that is fashionable without being pretentious. O Mbakalogatos is one of the best restaurants in Athens. They have a large menu, in Greek, but they speak English. Don't worry about the menu. Order the mussels, either from Limnos, or Mytilini. Order the makaronades with cheese
and crispy onions, order the pasta with shrimp, order the sausage, order the sikotaria (liver and stuff in wine sauce), the grilled vegetables are amazing, the Kykladiki salad, or any of the meat dishes. I could go on but start with these and then ask the waiter to suggest something. The chef is Panayotis Papanicholaou, who is as close as you can get to being a genius in Greek cooking, drawing his inspiration from traditional dishes from all over Greece as well as the years he spent in Chicago. Pick an island
and there is probably a dish from there. You could eat here every night and never grow tired of it and come away with a whole new understanding of the depth of Greek cuisine. If I had the money I would take this restaurant and move it to my town in the USA or even in New York because this is how modern Greek cuisine should be done. Great sellection of good tsipuro, raki and ouzo as well as nice local wines by the carafe. They are at #72 Fokionos Negri.
If you want to experience a real neighborhood taverna try H Folia Tis Kypselis. Its run by an old couple who inherited it from the man's father and was at onetime the hangout of Theodorakis, Zambetas, Mbithikotsis and Hadzidakis and there is an old photo of them taken sometime in the early sixties. Very simple and delicious
mostly grilled meats with inexpensive fish and several vegetable dish and their own excellent rose wine. Very good paidakia. Finding it won't be easy but if you
walk up Fokionos Negri and turn right on Xaironeias St you will see it on your left at at #6 Barbogli Street. The sign outside just says H Folia. Another old taverna which under new ownership has expanded the traditional taverna-fare in an interesting way is To Petalo(photo) on the corner of Xanthis and Lelas Karagiani, just a block north of Fokionos. Very nice wine, maybe because one of the best places to buy barrel wine in Athens is in the basement right next door. If you are looking for
a fish taverna without a view of the sea Ellinon Pelagos serves fresh grilled and fried fish and lots of seaside mezedes from a big old mansion at Agathoupoleos #15, just across Patission street from Fokionos Negri. In the summer they have tables outdoors in the garden. The best cafeneon-ouzeri is Rena's on the corner of Spetson and Skopelos which will have you thinking this can't be the place when you arrive, and realizing it was by the time you leave with
a stomach full of home cooked food.
The best taverna for outdoor spring-summer-fall eating is To Platanos which is down Agia Zoni, a pedestrian street off Fokionos Negri, in a small square called Platia Platanos at the intersection with Kalifronia street. One of the nicest neighborhood tavernas in Athens if you are looking for something authentically Greek and a setting that will make you feel like you are on an island.
For those of you who are traveling on a budget or live in Athens and want to go out to dinner regularly and not spend much more than what it would cost to eat at home there is a terrific choice and though it is off the beaten path you can easily have a nice meal here for under ten euros whether you come for lunch or dinner. The restaurant
called Oi Nostimies tis Mary's and it is a family run restaurant that serves Greek traditional food that is as close as you will find to home-cooking at least in this area. Run by the beautiful Mary, with lots of help from her mother, her husband Christos and her three sons, the clientele are a Kypseli mixture of working-class, poets, artists, pensioners, businessmen and people looking for large portions for prices that are a notch or two above a soup kitchen. I eat lunch here almost every day that
I am working at home. Its in Platia Ag Giorgiou which is where Ithakis, Eptanisiou and Ydras streets all converge. They also make their own pizza. Probably the best bakaliaro with skordalia I have ever eaten. Great everyday restaurant if you need one.
Fokinos is quite a walk from the Plaka area but a taxi there will only cost you about three euro. Also the #2, #4 and #9 Trolleys will take you right to the top of Fokionos which ends at Platia Kypseli. From Athinas Street you can take the small blue #035 and like the trolleys get off at Platia Kypseli. If you have a big meal you can walk it off by walking back to the center in about 45 minutes. Just find Patission Street at the bottom of Foikinos
Negri and turn
left. There are also a number of trolleys on Patission that will get you back to Syntagma, the 5,11 right to the square and the 3 and 13 to the National Gardens on Vas Sophias Ave. See also Eating in Kypseli
Beyond the Realm of Central Athens
The first thing that happens when you sit down at the small Xoxlidaki Ouzeri in Nea Psyhico is that a smiling waiter brings you a small carafe of tsikoudia from Crete and a tiny meze, and leaves the menu for you to explore. Its a fascinating menu too, with mezedes and dishes from all over
even some dishes
from Smyrna. But before you get completely overwhelmed by the descriptions he returns with a giant tray of small dishes which you can choose from. Long red Florina Peppers stuffed with cheese and grilled, calves tongues, caper salad, potato salad with onions and capers, Cretan dakos salad, sadziki, fava, humus and the typical Greek dishes too. But its the entrees that really show a fusion of traditional mezedopoulion fare and neo-Greek cuisine. Try the pork loin in yogurt
and apricot sauce, a dish from Smyrna,
or the fried baby squid. Grilled sardines when in season have to be the best you will find in Athens. They have several types of kokoretsi, baked in the oven. For those who don't know, kokoretsi is the liver and other organs of lamb, stuffed into or wrapped in the intestines and served sliced. But if this is still not weird enough for you try the beef testicles. Yes. This is not a misprint. They also have about 30 different varieties of ouzo and several different rakis and tsikoudia
including the excellent house variety which I mentioned before and is probably sent in unmarked bottles from some farmer in Crete. Lots of salads and dishes for those people who don't care for testicles and spleens and many other meat and chicken dishes. Oh yes, the best fried potatoes I have had yet in Athens. This is one of the best ouzeri-mezedopoulions in Athens. For the more adventurous walk up Vassilias Sophias from Syntagma Square until you pass the flower shops and come to a bus stop. Take the
#13 trolley to the last stop which is the platia of Agia Sophia. Walk back a couple blocks and turn left on Adrianeiou and it is another block on the right. You can also take the metro from Syntagma or Monastiraki towards the airport and get off at Ambelokipi and catch the #14 trolley to the same place. For the less adventurous take a taxi to 31 Adrianeiou in Nea Psyhico. Tell the driver it is near Agia Sophia. To get home walk back to L Kifissias and use the underpass to cross and you can catch the 13 back to
Syntagma or flag a cab. Tel. 210 6746551. Matt's Favorite!
A couple doors down in a two-story house, open only for lunch is another Matt's Favorite called "o Takis". It is a family run home-cooking restaurant with a menu that changes daily, served by Takis himself, a blur of a
never stops moving from the kitchen and from table to table. Anything you order is good and if you come around 2pm and spend the afternoon sitting in the garden it may be your best meal in Greece. Takis speaks English, as does his daughter and I can't think of anywhere I would rather eat, any time of the year. By 7pm they are usually closed unless there are still people enjoying themselves. You can call them at 210 6747237 to make sure they are open or in case your taxi driver gets lots and wants to know
where it is. If you get there and it is closed just go to the Chinese Restaurant next door, one of the best in Athens, or the souvlaki shop around the corner, also good. But nothing beats Takis for Greek food.
Want some more places that tourists usually don't stumble upon? Take the metro blue line towards the airport and get off at Panormou Station. Walk towards Kifissias avenue one block and you will come to Doukisis Plakendias Street (not to be confused with the metro station of the same name). You will find there an assortment of small neighborhood
including the Taverna Filadelfi which is very pleasant. A real genuine neighborhood taverna. If its full there are
others. Take your pick from Psaro-taverna Stou Giorgiou at 3 Gennimata (go up Larissis street from the square) which serves seafood, meat and mezedes and features live rembetika-laika on weekends.
If you walk down Panormou away from Kifissias Ave to Evritanias street you will find the excellent little basement taverna called To Koutouki 54. You will never find To Kainari but I am throwing it out here for those adventurous enough to try and lucky enough to succeed. Its in the same area but across Leoforos Kifissias at 20 Xiromerou street and is a wonderful little Thessaloniki style ouzeri-mezedopoulion. Try the pastes mezedes.
A more recent discovery for me is the Palia Geitonia Estiatorio (Old Neighborhood Restaurant) which serves delicious traditional foods in a modern bistro setting. Run by two women, Zoi who is the chef and Yiotta who runs the well-stocked and fun-to-be-at bar, the restaurant has some interesting mezedes including
called Pixti, which is a sort of mixed peppered meat combo held together by some kind of gelatin substance. That may sound disgusting to some people but its pretty good and goes well with bottle of their inexpensive bottled wine from Megapanos. Really nice home-made taramasalata and a large number of hot and cold appetizers and salads. You will find stuff like Rizotto with Seafood, but instead of paying 15 to 20 euros it costs 8. Rooster in wine sauce, stuffed zucchini, roast goat with oven-roasted
potatoes, lamb fricasse, beef in lemon or tomato sauce, soutsoukakia, pastitsio and grilled meats and fish with all but maybe three or four items well under 10 euros. You won't find many tourists here but its actually close to the hotels in Makryianni. Just walk down Syngrou Ave and turn right on Zinni street and its by the intersection with Dimitracopoulou at #21. If you are coming by metro take the #2 line and get off at FIX and walk up the stairs to Drakou and walk down Syngrou away from central
Zinni is 4 or 5 blocks down. Nice place to just come for a drink and mezedes too though for now the seating is all inside.
Seafood Restaurants on the
small port known as Microlimano is known for its
expensive fish restaurants. In fact there is a
popular scam going on where a taxi driver takes
you to one of these restaurants and you end up
paying a fortune and he makes a hefty
commission. Remember that in Greece some sea food is very
expensive and in many restaurants that is the fish
they push. If
you do want to go to Microlimano, since it is supposedly a
beautiful place where you can have a fish meal
surrounded by fishing boats, the Fish
Taverna Botsaris is
one that was not over-priced and the food was
quite good. And according to the business card I
got from them "the Chef is the Captain
himself". Also Capt John's, Vaggelis and Irini's had inexpensive fish. If you do go to one of these places and order fish try to be present during the fish weighing ceremony. A half kilo of barbouni was a lot smaller in Microlimano than it was in Anavissos. But really a more sensible thing to do is go to the area of Periaki which is where the Greeks go to get good seafood. Try Diasimos which is one of the most popular and one of the best. But there are many along the coast
and the area is much more open to the sea than Microlimino where you can't even see the sea until you sit down in one of the restaurants. Read my review of seafood restaurants in Pireaus with directions
on getting there at www.greecetravel.com/matt-blog/2008-10-10.htm
the new coastal tram it is easy to get on in
Syntagma and get off at a seaside fish taverna. If
you get off at the stop called EDEM you can
go to the fish restaurant of the same name, right
on the beach where they serve fresh (and frozen)
fish, ouzo, wine, salads at reasonable prices. In
the winter the beach is a little gross because
whoever cleans it takes his holiday, but if you
don't look too closely you will think you are on
There are two fish taverns on the beach at Sounion, just under the ancient temple. The taxi drivers say the upper one called Elias is superior. But for me the best place to eat in Lavrion is the small ouzeri right in the fish market. Yeah it smells fishy but after a plate of big fried shrimp and a couple glasses of ouzo you won't even care. If you are here to catch a boat to Kea this is the best way to spend your time and you may even decide to take a later boat.
The town of Anavissos is famous
for seafood tavernas. It is on the way to Sounion.
Try the Akroyiali Psaro-taverna. We ate
there and it was excellent. This is the restaurant that George and some of the other taxi drivers who do tours bring their clients because the fish is fresh, the food is delicious and they take pride in the cleanliness of the place. If you tell Panayotis, the owner (in photo), that you came on my recommendation he will make sure you
get the freshest fish and if enough of you go there I may never have to pay for another barbouni (red mullet) again. By the way, barbouni, though
expensive is excellent, in fact it is the best tasting seafood in my opinion, better than lobster. It costs from 50-60 euros a kilo though. But two people can be happy with half a kilo. Koutsomouri which is in the same family is cheaper and almost as good. Some like it better. The inexpensive fish are the kolios (makerel), gopa (some kind of bream I think), sardeles (sardines) and kalamari (squid). All can be fried or grilled. When you get kalamari ask for fresh but
often it is not in season. Another delicious
inexpensive fish is gavros, which are fried anchovies. If you like octopus get it grilled. In fact if you don't like octopus get it grilled and you may change your mind.
Rafina is full of small fish restaurants and
worth the trip if you want that Greek island port feeling without actually going to the islands. Try Agoni Grammi, one of the last restaurants before the entrance to the ferries. Simple, cheap mostly fried seafood. Ask what is fresh at these Rafina restaurants. If you order a combination they will go heavy on the stuff they want to get rid of if they think you won't notice or care. Kalamari, galeos and bakaliaro are nearly always frozen but usually good, better than something
that has been sitting
around on ice for several days.
The beautiful pine shaded beach at Schinias near Marathon has a number of fish taverns too. Try Glaros which was pretty good and is open year round though only on weekends during the winter. There is no electricity in Schinias so the restaurants use generators and have that primitive feel you get on a remote Greek island. Its also the best place to swim in Attika and I recommend coming here for the day or at least the afternoon and early evening
weather. The district of Kessariani which
is heading up Mount Hymettos and
has nothing to do with the sea is known for the
seafood restaurants around Anagnesseos
These are the closest fish restaurants with the exception of Paradosiako (in the Ouzerie section) which has most of the fish you will find in the fish tavernas, without the expensive ones, and the restaurants in the Foikinos Negri section. Be aware that sometimes you will flag down a cab
and rather then take you to the restaurant you
want to go to, he will say he knows a better one
and take you to another as I have mentioned above.
Sometimes this may be the case, but more then
likely he is getting a hefty commission from the
restaurant he delivers you to and the bill is
going to be ten times more then what you had
planned on spending. My advice is to use a radio
cab from the hotel. They are less likely to
jeopardize their relationship with the hotel if
you report them.
One Sunday morning Elias from Swift Car Rentals, my favorite epicurian ouzo aficionado called to invite Andrea and I to a fish taverna in Perama, the fringe of Pireaus, a working class area that overlooks the shipyards and the ferries to Salamina, the closest island to Athens that few tourists have been to though all
We took the electric train to Pireaus and Elias, his girlfriend Joanna and another friend named Dina picked us up and we navigated the narrow streets of Pireaus to the Strofi Mezedopouleion Fish Taverna on Leoforos Irinis which is the main road through Perama to the Salamina ferries. Stofi is on Platia Tsorpatsoglou and has been written up in Athinorama so it is a popular place on a Sunday afternoon during lent. Its owned by a guy named Leonidas, from the island of Ikaria
and since Joanna was
from Ikaria we got first class treatment and great seats close to the three musicians who played every great rembetika song they could think of or people could suggest. Unlike so many ouzeries these days who seem to have only Mini and Plomari, Stofi had at least a dozen or more ouzos. We settled on Dimino, my current favorite Lesbian ouzo which is relatively smooth and light. Andrea claims we drank ten bottles but I only counted six, two of which were compliments of Leonidas. Besides great music, ouzo and company
let me tell you about the food. There must have been twenty or thirty dishes we did not order that I wish I had, but to have ordered more food I would have needed an extra stomach and the dishes we did order were amazing. We had a couple standards like grilled octopus and two big plates of fried koutsomoures (like barbounia-red mullet) and a plate of fried fresh baby bakaliaro. We had my favorite Greek fish dish, gouna, which is sun dried mackeral that is grilled, crispy on the edges. We had fried
baby squids. We had fresh steamed scallops
still in the shell, complete with the parts they turn into catfood that you never see in the USA but they serve in Paris. We had the Greek equivelant of a dungeness crab, boiled with some kind of horta or other wild green. That was just OK. I think they are better in Volos where they supposedly come from. Finally we had these little crabs, the kind you see on the rocks by the sea when you drop a piece of bread or the remains of a sea urchin into the water, deep fried so you ate the whole thing. Interestingly
I did not get drunk but I was really watering down my ouzo, more than Elias and company and probably drank hald what they did. So when Andrea tired of the eating, drinking, laughing and singing I left with her and took the bus back to Athens, rather than stay on and join Elias, Joanna and Dina in their further adventures at the Rembetiko Mezedopouleio Oi Penies tou Bambakari near the Pireaus Metro station where they finished out the evening with more ouzo, good music and food.
For those who want to go to Stofi it is actually really easy. You can either take the metro to Pireaus and the 843 bus goes from in front of the station all the way to the Salamina ferries. You will know you are at the square because the bus has to negotiate the square. There is also an Atlantic Supermarket right across the street. The B18 and the G18 go from near Omonia square in Athens. They leave from Platia Odiou which is where Pireos (Tsaldari) Street intersects
and Meandros streets, maybe two blocks from Omonia. If you take a taxi it will probably cost you all of 7 euros each way, a reasonable amount on the way there and a pittance on the way back with a belly full of fish and a head full of music and ouzo. If you want to make reservations call 210 4416456.
|Finally there is To Ouzeri tou Laki near Platia Victoria, one of the best and least expensive seafood restaurants you will find, if by chance you do find it. As soon as you walk in you will know that this is the kind of place where you will get fresh seafood in an unpretentious atmosphere, the kind
they need more of in Athens. To find it you take the electric train one stop past Omonia to Victoria Square and walk to the center of the square and look to your right where you will see a small pedestrian street called Elpidos and Laki's is at the end. Walk in and there is a big case of fish on ice, probably more fish than you have ever seen outside of the market and many you have never seen in Greece before including skate and blue crab just like they have on the Atlantic coast of the US. I recommend their
mussels and the skate, both served in a delicious and slightly spicy lemon and oil sauce. You can get just about any fish grilled or fried and they have several different saganakis with mussels and jumbo shrimp. Try their excellent potato salad and gavro pasto (marinated anchovies), their fish soup, soupia (cuttlefish) with spinach, and their Rizotto me Thalassina made with shrimp, mussels and mushrooms. Lots of salads and vegetable dishes, this is a great place for serious vegetareans and for those
who can't live without meat they have grilled beef and pork steaks, and some cassarole dishes. They also have a dozen or more different ouzos, tsipuros and tsikoudia and nice house wine. Nice music, nice atmosphere and cool clientele. Not really a place for families with young kids, its small, but great if you are young and adventurous which you need to be to find it.
The Psistarias of
America you have your
", my friend Nikos told me." In Greece we
". He is talking about the area called
which is to
grilled meat as Mikrolimeno is to seafood. The
town is located near the coastal town of
Vouliagmeni on the road to the airport and is
famous for it's collection of psistarias which
serve roast suckling pig, roast lamb, roast goat,
kokoretsi, paidakia all cooked over hot coals. I
would consider a visit to Vari essential for
anyone who wants to live like a Greek for one
night and the more people you can get together for
it, the more fun you will have. We went with
George the Famous Taxi Driver and a couple of
his taxi driving friends and relatives to a place
that had great
wine and delicious food. Tassos is easily
recognizable by the fellow dressed like a Greek
shepherd in a foustenella and a shepherds stick
waving at the cars. Well, maybe not because lots
of places have guys like this in Vari. But if you
love grilled meat it is tough to go wrong in Vari.
Get a group together and call George or just go on
your own. There is not a taxi driver in Athens who
does not know where Vari is.
reality is that the best restaurants are outside
of the Plaka and central Athens, some in working
class neighborhoods, some in the suburbs. One of
the best nights of my life was spent with
George the Famous Taxi Driver
his family on Mount Parnes, just outside the city
where there is an entire town of restaurants that
serve whole grilled lamb, steaks, chicken, pork,
kokoretsi, goat and every appetizer you can
imagine. The wine was fantastic! The town of Kalivia,between the airport and Lavrion is another town famous for its grilled meats and is very popular on weekends.
There are a number of Italian restaurants in Athens, some of them actually owned by Italians with Italians in the kitchen doing the cooking. An example was Tutti I Tavola which was owned by my pal Claudio, from Trieste. But Willie, his chef died (the guy in the center of the photo) and Claudio sold his share to his partner and opened
a new restaurant in Halandri which is called Osteria Da Claudio and is supposed to be even better than his last place. I could not begin to tell you how to get there except that it is on the road from Halandri to Melisia. The address is 26 Barnali in Halandri and the phone number is 210 683-4228. Your best bet is to take a taxi but you can probably call and get directions from the Metro. Another nice Italian restaurant is Anema E Core which
was nearly impossible
for anyone but an Athenian to
find, located at 123 Ag Paraskevis Street in Halandri. But since the Agia Paraskevis metro station opened it should be easy since it is located right by the entrance. Like Claudio's restaurant this too is owned and run by Italians, though they come from Naples and are heavy on pizzas and pastas.
If you get a copy of Athinorama Magazine which comes out every week you will find dozens of Italian Restaurants (if you read Greek) though there are few that are in the downtown area. Most
are in the suburbs but there are a couple in Kolonaki though the general rule is that restaurants in that neighborhood won't be cheap.
say a 15% gratuity is included in the bill but
I leave some extra for the guys who clear the
tables who are usually refugees and can really
use the money because they are paid
practically nothing or else they are the
children of the owners who are being paid
little or nothing.
More Greek Food
and Travel Information:
can find a lot more information on Greek food at www.greecefoods.com