Once known as the stomping grounds of students and anarchists, Exarchia has opened up to an ever-increasingly broad array of visitors. Still beloved for its neoclassical buildings and sardonic murals, chilled-vibe cafes and late night drinking holes, the neighborhood now has several new additions to its lively dining and drinking scene that are gradually changing its profile without disrespecting its essential character.
The name means “rogue”. This rakish philosophy was clearly greatly appealing to to Lefteris Georgopoulos, Vangelis Thanasis and Dimitris Boukouris, who recently opened this new bar that catches one’s eye with its yellow facade on Asklepion street. It’s also reflected in the mural of Dreyk the Pirate with the two sailors gambling and ready for a fight. One of them is cheating by pulling a jack, which is the other meaning of knave, out of his sock.
Here, with the speakers playing R&B and soul, but also rock or old school house, they move along the bar of perfect serves and twists on the classics. In many of their cocktails, a drink that doesn’t normally belong there (but it fits) “sneaks in”: their Pina Colada, for example, which they call Fidel, has tequila in it, and in the Boulevardier, which they call Boulevaryeah here! In addition to bourbon, they also put mescal.
Guerrilla Chef Burgers
There’s not much to this burger and that’s exactly what makes it stand out. At a time when many burger joints are competing to see who can fit the most – or the most sophisticated – ingredients between two pieces of bread, Guerilla’s Chef (aka Fahd-Alexander Hassan Kassem) decided to open a small shop in Exarchia with a single product.
The list starts and ends with a simple, honest cheeseburger. Beef burger cheese ketchup mayonnaise mustard on a fluffy brioche is the classic recipe that follows. Choose whether you want a single or double burger, grab a craft beer from the fridge and continue your walk around the neighborhood. Simple and easy.
Once upon a time, in this courtyard, which is nice and shady in the afternoon and is filled with a nostalgic sweetness in the evenings, lit by rows of glowing lights, kids used to play in the yard. The building that now houses the popular Amma Lahei was the primary school of Exarchia. It’s been years, of course, since it has been delivering snacks instead of lessons, next to lemon trees and bougainvillea, to people of all ages.
Groups fill the tables early, putting fava beans with caramelized onions and fried capers, feta doughnuts and pumpkin meatballs, chicken short ribs and grilled burgers in the middle of the table. There is also a small section with cheeses from various places, such as Andros volaki, Cretan gruyere, goat’s cheese aged in wine lees or Zakynthos ladotyri.
First come, first served, people! Queues are quite common at this new microbakery in Exarchia, and definitely justified. Using quality raw materials, slow-ripening breads, putting together hearty sandwichessuch as the beloved BLT with smoked Serres pancetta or the one with New York pastrami, pecorino and sauerkraut, or the focaccia-greens pie from another planet and other sweet and savory things, it’s inevitable that they regularly draw a large quantity of people to the corner of Zoodochos Pigi and Methoni.
The shop’s trump cards include a thoughtful breakfast selection of breads and eggs in several variations that come in a package or can be eaten standing up at the stalls outside it.
Especially in summer, this small Afghan tavern is an ideal choice when we go for a walk in Exarchia. We always stop for a quick meal at the tables outside. The young owner Reza Golami prepares and serves delicacies from his homeland.
We really like the ashak: a dough stuffed with vegetables, yoghurt sauce, red lentils, basil and fresh herbs. We never say no to kabuli, traditional Afghan rice with lamb, raisins and carrots. The traditional bulani pie, stuffed with potato and spices and his mani, small bites of dough stuffed with chicken, yoghurt sauce and red lentils are a great way to end our day.
Tanini Agapi Mou
Bengleri, Gaidouria, Mavrathiro, Volitsa, Bekiari, Kakotrigios. You won’t need a dictionary as you’ll have Tanini’s skilled sommellieres to explain the characteristics of each earthy variety that their long wine list includes. Here, at this relaxed wine bar they honor regional Greek varietals and include on their menu labels from biodynamic, natural, organic, terroir driven and mildly vinified wines. They serve one hundred selections by the glass and bottle.
The food is prepared by the talented Maria Kofitsa (we met her at Cookowaya) and is offered for harmonious or extreme pairings with the wine. The baked goods are sourced from the excellent bakery in Ilisia, Terrible Child, and Maria successfully pairs them with selected products, such as in the dish of grilled sourdough bread and smoked eel or the brioche with handmade hummus, peppers, walnuts and fresh oregano, one of the vegan options. What regulars enjoy here is the personalized service and policy guidance to finding the right label, which usually involves an interesting chat with wine at the heart of it.
Handmade butter buns are freshly baked every day at Talking Breads. They use them to make well-curated sandwiches and burgers that steal hearts. From the classic cheeseburger to the more exuberant Bacon Mushroom Melt with beef burger, double cheddar, mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onion, lettuce and sauce, or the sandwich with spit-roasted pork, cabbage, carrot, green onion, cilantro and satay sauce, “mouthwatering” is a subtle way to describe these foods. For dessert they also make a naughty sweet burger with their own brioche with milk chocolate praline, white chocolate and homemade whipped cream.
The Parisian-style cafe-bistrot of Exarchia opened in 2006 and immediately became a favorite among many. We love the jazz music, the bartenders dressed in uniformthe decoration with red and black dominating and of course their old fashioned cocktails.
We order a dry martini or one of the six gin & tonic options and enjoy it with thoughtful and delicious bar food: bruschetta with mushrooms, gruyere and sun-dried tomatoes, sandwich with grilled vegetables and goat cheese and a cool salad with salmon, cherry tomatoes and Domokou cream cheese.
The idea of Warehouse was born one afternoon in a small café in the center of Athens by four friends. After much effort, they transformed a former publishing house into a stylish wine bar. At Warehouse they love coffee and serve blends from Latin America and Africa. Wine takes center stage. We find over 140 labels from the Greek and foreign vineyards by the glass and about 300 by the bottle, and they have around 500 labels in their cellar!
Their food is quality and Their menu, which changes frequently, is perfect for wine pairing. These days we are loving the bruschetta with pastrami, caramelized onion and Andros volaki, the shrimp ceviche with lime, avocado foam, coconut milk, lychee, and radishes and the mouthwatering burger with beef burger, aged gouda cheese, crispy bacon and chutney.
Food, drinks, plastic chairs, a 3D printed David by Michelangelo, a confessional and electro-pop/synth-pop music, what do we have? “Kobra” of course. This cool joint was talked about as soon as it opened for both its singular style and Adam Kontovas’ dishes, which mixed gourmet elements and techniques with street food drawing from various cuisines.
Here we’ve had “carbonara” with lamb instead of spaghetti, mussels and chagala, cinnamon with foie gras and many other appealingly unusual dishes. These days, when the kitchen moves to an all-daymore relaxed, pace, we eat noodles and rice bowls, Korean fried wings, very popular as are summer rolls with shrimp and chili sauce wrapped with avocado on a rice sheet.
This article is based on a feature previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.