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 is cheaper than bottled wine and if 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.
Restaurants In The Plaka
This is the restaurant of choice for many locals in the Plaka. From the outside there is nothing to distinguish it from the other more 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. I like the spinach pie (spana-ko-pita), their fish soup (psa-row-soupa) which you can get it with or without a plate of fish. Of course they have the Greek salad (hor-ee-ah-tiko), eggplant salad (mel-eetsana salata), yogurt dip (satziki), and all the 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. After lunch you can buy a newspaper at the kiosk across the street and have a coffee while reading about what's going on in the rest of the world. At night they have mostly grilled food and it can get pretty festive but the oven dishes have usually dwindled by evening and if you saw something you liked at lunch you better get there early if you want it at dinner. These are some of the best waiters in Athens too. Very attentive, fast and they all speak English.
A few years ago two members of the Byzantino staff bought one of the tourist restaurants on Adrianou street and opened The Hani. A Hani is a sort of inn for travelers and the clientele here are a mixture of Greeks and travelers from all over the world. The food itself is straight out of the Byzantino cook book as you would expect since that is where the cooks come from. With live acoustic bouzoukia music, an outdoor garden in the back and tables right on Adriannou Street where you can watch the people parade, combined with a nice mezedes platter, fresh fish, grilled meats, oven cooked meats and vegetables and salads and appetisers and wine by the carafe or bottle, the Hani is a good place to begin your Greek food adventure. Waitors speak English too. The Hani is at 138 Adrianou street. Try their Psaronefi (roast pork loin) and their Rouqfort Salad if you are bored with Greek salads. Open for lunch they have AC in the summer.
The Plaka Restaurant
Right on the corner of Kydatheneon and Geronta street on the small square is the Plaka Restaurantwhich has been serving locals and travelers for years. They specialize in Greek oven dishes, grilled meats and fish and features some specialties from Asia Minor like my favorite Lamb and Vegetables from Smyrna. You can order from the menu or go inside and choose what you like. They also have a large selection of fish which is on display in the glass-case. You can even choose which cut of meat you want from their choice of pork-chops, lamb-chops and steaks. Their home-made red wine is good and lets you off easy the next morning. Also try their lamb fricasse(lamb with escarole and egg-lemon sauce). My mom says their grilled octopus is the tenderest she has ever eaten. Try the Thrapsalagrilled. It is giant squid with their special oil and lemon sauce. Waiters speak English and are helpful if you can't decide and like most restauarants in the Plaka the menu is in English and a couple other languages and has plenty to choose from. You will be treated to fruit or desert if you mention this site so don't be shy. Actually if you mention my website to any of these restaurants maybe I will be treated to fruit and desert too.
If you continue walking up Kydathenaon street past Adrainou and begin climbing the steps you will come to this very nice restaurant that is not too expensive and it is in a relatively quiet location. 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 good 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. Tom Mazarakis loves this place.
When George from Byzantino took me to lunch here I thought he had lost his mind. George likes traditional Greek food and is known for being a kalofagos which would translate as an epicurean I suppose. Mono looked like it was transported out of the East Village of New York. What were we doing here? The answer came quickly with the first mezedes. Mono, despite its upscale novo-Greek appearance is a traditional Greek restaurant with an occasional twist of some of the recipes. We started with the sausage platter which had sausages from all over Greece. If we had finished it we would not have had room for anything else. We also had delcious white tarama salata, fava from Santorini, several amazing salads (it wasn't just me and George, there was a bunch of us in case you are wondering), tomato keftedes from Santorini, smoked mackeral, mixed grilled vegetables, hand-made dolmades and a dakos salad. They had lots of daily specials including a couple pasta dishes. George had the pasta with salmon. I tasted it and it was terrific. All dishes are made with pure Greek products and extra-virgin olive oil. Mono is not hard to find. Just go to the main cathedral on Metropolis street and from the center of the square walk up Venizelos Street towards the Plaka. Its on your left. Make sure to have at least one meal here, either lunch or dinner.
If 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 isSaitalocated 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.
Psaras Fish Taverna
Psaras 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 everytime 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 care.For some reason Psaras went out of business.But now it is back, with new tableclothes, 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 is better then the old Psaras. The menu is in English and the waitors and staff are pleasant and very helpful. It's on the corner of Erotocritou and Erehtheos streets up the steps that lead from the Plaka to the Acropolis. I love thegrilledsoupes(cuttlefish).Try the Cretan Salad too. (Last time I was here I lost my phone so ask if they found it yet.) It is a little more expensive than the other restaurants on this page but nice atmosphere and if you are a group they have room but you should make reservations. You can email Laura at Byantino and she can help: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dirosis the favorite restaurant of my friend George at Fantasy Travel which is lucky for him because it is just two doors down from his office. Getting him to eat anywhere else is almost like pulling teeth but I don't really mind because I like the place. Diros was actually a very old restaurant called The Corfu which was located in Syntagma that closed many years ago and reopened with the same staff in their present location on Xenofontos street. This is one of the last of the old-time restaurants and is still frequented by the old polititians and Greek celebrities as well as many people in the business community. Air-conditioned in the summer it is a good place to be when it gets really hot in July or August and very cozy in the cool months. If you want good food in a clean environment with excellent service come here for lunch or dinner. To find the Diros go to Syntagma Square and walk up Nikis or Fileninon. If you walk up Nikis take your first left, if you walk up Filenenon your first right.
For backpackers and budget travelers this small taverna-estiatorio on Patroou street has been a hangout since I was in highschool 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 Monistiriki. 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 theGreek Music Museumwhich 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 corner.
Of 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 theDiros (above)or one of my favorite restaurants,Terinaon 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. Mono also has airconditioning if you want more traditional Greek food in a neo Greek atmosphere. Triantafilos at 22 Lekka and the Epeiros restaurant in the meat market both are working class restaurants with air-conditioning.
For restaurants 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. 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, with the exception of Platia Iroon in Psiri which has good food and good music, though the music is much more low key. Places like Stamatopoulos you 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. But I will. If you are going with a group you should probably make reservations. They speak English. 210 322 8722.
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 Greek dishes and mezedes (ouzo snacks) and many of them serve pasta and some interesting salads. I like Dioskoro though you have to be careful because they have 2 locations right next to each other, one a restaurant and the other serving mostly coffee and drinks. But 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.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. Its 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 waitors. Their efficient gas heaters make you able to eat outdoors any time of year.
|One of Athens best kept secret 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 bigscreen 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 wioth 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.|
Where 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 flaming sausages (loo-kah-niko). Wait until the fire is out before eating. Also try their trout (eh-pes-tropho), giant beans in tomato sauce(yee-gen-des) 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 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.....
Just 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.
Behind Byzantino 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.)
This Ouzerie 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 kalamarkia 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.
Between 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. By 8pm they are usually closed.
Restaurants Near the Plaka
Epeiros and Papandreou in the Meat Market
Best 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 patsa, a tripe soup endowed with mysterious life-giving properties that the workers swear by. This summer (2003) 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 aquainted 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 margaritsa 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. Papandreou burned down and was completely and beautifully restored. The food, like Epierus, is simple but great. Both have excellent red wine.
| Patsa: 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. 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. 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, 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|
On the corner where Ermou meets the Square of Monistiraki there is a small church. Next to it is what looks like yet another tourist-style souvlaki shop/restaurant, but don't be too quick to write it off. If you go inside you will realize that it is one of Athens oldest tavernas, just bending with the times. They have an enormous assortment of hot dishes from which to choose, and if someone in your party wants a souvlaki, this place will bring you the best of both worlds. Outside is cooler but a little noisy, and while inside can be hot, the decor is entertaining. Live music every night in the winter which is the best time to be here. The barrel wine is hit and miss so taste before you buy. Sometimes it is good and sometimes undrinkable. The owner's name is Spiro and he owns the souvlaki shop next door too which supposedly makes the best souvlaki in Athens though some taxi drivers will tell you that the best are at Thanasis right across the street. My daughter agrees. I think that the best souvlakia is unlikely to be in the tourist area where it does not have to be good for people to eat it. But for souvlakia everyone has their favorite so see my Souvlakia Reviews page.
The Secret Underground Taverna
For 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 (psa-ree psee-toe)incredible. If you want to play it safe order yellow split pea(fah-va), with bread (psoh-me), soup(soup-ah) 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.
For those tiring of Greek food this reasonably priced bistro right behind the town hall of Athens is the answer. With an internationally trained chef and a menu that includes many different styles of omelets, burgers, pastas, salads, appetisers, steaks, vegetarean dishes, fish and more, Hell's Kitchen is that rare place that serves quality food for economy prices. For those living in the area os Omonia Square, Athinas Street and the Central Market I recommend having at least one meal here, preferably at the beginning of your visit so you can come back for more. For those who live in Athens and have never been here I suggest you check it out. If I have not convinced you this story may. A friend of mine had lunch here and had a glass of white wine which he wanted a litle colder. he asked the waiter for some ice-cubes. Instead they brought frozen grapes. Is that brilliant or what? Hell's Kitchen is at Kleisthenous 13, Kotzia Square Athens. If you want you can call 210 524 1555 for directions but all you have to do is find the town hall on Athinas street cross the street from the square and just walk around it. They open at noon and serve Brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
This unpretentous estiatorion is located between the Dimarchos Square and Omonia and between Aiolis Street and Athinas at 9 Lykoyrgou street on the ground floor of a big old building full of lawyers and notaries and this is where they eat. Walk in and go straight back and choose from roast lamb, chicken, beef, pork, fish, and lots of vegetables. I loved the beets with garlic sauce (badzaria me skordaya) and the fish soup was delicious. The roasted gavros (anchovies) were delicous as were the vegetable dishes. Upstairs is a simple cafeneon for coffee. If you want to eat like a civil-servant or even a kalofages try this place. It is not open at night though.
This working-class taverna in Koloniki 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 decour. 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 waitor 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. But as long as you are in Koloniki you may as well walk up to Platia Examani and eat at the excellent Ouzerie in the park.
My 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.
Where 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.
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), broccili, 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.
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 thats 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. It is too difficult to explain how to get there. You should just write the name and address on a piece of paper and give it to a taxi driver. But if you are adventerous 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. Thats 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.
Feeling a little more adventurous? 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 tavernas including the Taverna Filadelfi which is very pleasant. A real genuine neighborhood taverna. If its full there are others. Take your pick. If the metro shuts down before you leave you can take a taxi home.
Psiri Restaurants and Ouzeries
There are a number of good restaurants and traditional ouzeries inPsiriand 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 Attalos or Cecil Hotels you are right on the edge of Psiri.
If you are walking down Ermou and make your first right after Athinas Street.If you keep walking up Maioulis you will come toRebecca, one of my favorite hangouts, but you probably won't find a table unless you get there early. They serve pretty much all mezedes and Rebecca is known more for the atmosphere then the food, but I like it. I get the pikilia which is a pile of different mezedes, some good some not so great. We usually just come here to drink and talk and the food is to keep us from getting too smashed on the ouzo. But it is the most happening place in Psiri and I suppose even though the food is a little lacking in the presentation department, they desrve their popularity for being one of the first of the Psiri ouzeries. In fact they began as a small shop that brought coffees to the workshops in the area back in the days when Psiri was still primarily industrial. Nights are insane, but if you get there in the day when Yannis is there grilling fish, you should be pretty happy. For better food and a less raunchy-underworld atmosphere try Iliosporo next door. 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 continue to the square you can eat atPlatia Iroon,one of my favorite places in Athens and where I can usually be found when I am in the city whether it is summer or winter. It is a mezedopleon and has about a hundred different dishes. In the winter everyone sits inside and listens to live music and unlike the other restaurants in Psiri these musicians are unplugged and generally superior. The owner, Nikos, from Naxos, plays bouzouki here many nights and can tell you many things about rembetika music. (He is also a big fan of Leonard Cohen). If you are in Greece during the winter this is definately a place to go one night or many nights. In the summer the tables and chairs fill the square and waitors and waitresses scurry back and forth across the street with their computerized notepads that places your order with the cook before they leave your table. I recommend the Avocado Salad, Fried Peppers Stuffed with Cheese, Cretan Salad, Spetsofai, Naxos Saganaki, Naxos Grilled Sausages, and the pasta dishes which my daughter loves. Order the seafood salad. This was the first Ouzerie to open in Psiri.
If you walk from the square up Ag Anargiri street to the next square there are two or three more ouzeries, all pretty good. If you walk town Takis street and take your first left and then your next right you will come to theNaxoswhich 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 Aisopou street across the street from Gelatomania, the world's best gelato ice-cream shop, 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 America.
My favorite place for ouzo and mezedes 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. 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 Evis 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 dozen tables.
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) Kolitkithea keftdes (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.
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 porkchops or in Greek: hirino brizoles. In fact except for salad and fried potatos 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 nextdoor 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 shops.
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 immediate right 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 suumer of 2007. If you are a vegetarean don't fret. They have lots of salads and eggs too! But you can't beat their paidakia (lambchops) 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 whole 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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Fokionos Negri Restaurants
Fokionos Negri is a long pedestrian street in Kypseli with many cafes, lots of young people and a couple restaurants that I really like. 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 octropus, and reasonably priced fried barbounia They even have mayeritsa. Another great place in Fokionos Negri isBiolettaat #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. Probably the best ouzerie on Fokionos Negri is theMezodopouleonTo Tsiporadikowhere you sit down and are greeted with a nice glass of tsipuro, the ouzo of the north, which is stronger than ouzo and does not taste like licorice. It tastes like moonshine. Great and varied menu of mezedes. This place is far superior to anything you will find in the Plaka and if you are adventerous enough I suggest you try it. It is at the top of Fokinos Negri # 72. Call and get directions at 210 821-6598. For those who hunger for Italian food try the Spagettaria: A Modo Mio just down the street. Fokinos is quite a walk from thePlaka area but a taxi there will only cost you about three euro. 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.
Seafood Restaurants on the Sea
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 comission.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 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".
With 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 an island.
The small fish taverna Koufounisia is impossible to find. It is in Kalithea at 215 Likougou and Agias Lavras and really the only way to get there is by taxi and it is nowhere near the sea. But if you can get there you will be glad you went. Famous for fresh fish, octopus on the grill, crabs, mussels, clams and sea creatures you have probably never heard of or seen before. Deceiving in appearance, it was formerly a souvlaki shop. This place was shown to me by Kostas of Dolphin Hellas, so if you are working with him ask him to take you there. Mariana and George are the owners. She speaks English and German and majored in history.
A little further...in fact a lot further in the port of Lavrion is the Korali Restaurant where people eat when they are waiting to catch the ferry to Kea. But if you are doing a day trip to Sounion this is a fine place to eat. Though it is far from Athens I decided to include it because the food was so good. There are also two fish taverns on the beach at Sounion, just under the ancient temple. The taxi drivers say the upper one called Elias is superior. Dimitri, who owns Paradosiako Cafeneon in the Plaka has just opened with his son a new fish taverna in Pireaus called Sergiani at Akti Trif. Moutsopoulou 25 in Microlimano. I don't usually (or ever) recommend a restaurant that I have never been to but because Paradosiako is such an excellent restaurant it would be hard to believe that his new place won't be as well.
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 Georgeand 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. It costs about 50 euros a kilo though. But one person can be happy with about 300 grams which would come to about 15 euros. 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. The beautiful pine shaded beach at Schinia has a number of fish taverns too. 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 Square. 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 Violetta 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 comission 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 jeapordize their relationship with the hotel if you report them.
Maybe the best fish restaurant I have been to within Athens is in Nea Philadelphia or more precisely Nea Halkidona, a former refugee settlement far from the normal tourist areas. Never mind. You can take a taxi there for about 7 euros and I think you will agree that it is worth it. The restaurant is called Psarotaverna Elafonisos, named after the tiny island off the Peloponessos where the owner Kostas, has a taverna that he opens in the summer. Fresh local fish, grilled, fried,baked steamed and even raw. The prices are reasonable, cheaper than many places in the Plaka and much cheaper than Microlimino. Nice selection of wine and lots of fish mezedes to go with ouzo if you want to go that way. Certainly worth going out of your way for, the restaurant is on the corner of Perissou and Ag. Anaragiron Street. The phone number is 210 2530330 in case your taxi gets lost. (Tell him to follow Acharnon street). The Elafonisos is closed in August. People who are booking with Fantasy Travel can have the travel agency arrange a night here. Thats how we discovered it.
The Psistarias of Vari
"In America you have your Silicon Valley", my friend Nikos told me." In Greece we have Cholesterol Valley". He is talking about the area called Variwhich 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 Driverand a couple of his taxi driving friends and relatives to a place called Tassosthat 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.
The 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 withGeorge the Famous Taxi Driver and 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!
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 ghet 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.
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. Try the Italian restaurant in the square across from the Cine Paris in the Plaka (next to Starbucks). I probably won't ever eat there but that's not because it's not any good. I just won't think of it.
More Athens Restaurant and Greek Food Information:
They 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.
# by 獅子王 | 2008/01/20 17:02
| World Tour
good Information and knowledge
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