If you’re looking for something to do, a day spent enjoying the iconic pieces of modern and contemporary art on display at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Museum in Pangrati is always a great option.
But the outing doesn’t have to end with the museum, because this downtown neighborhood is full of interesting places for a drink, a light snack or a proper meal. We selected some of our favorites.
B&E Goulandris Café-Restaurant
Our first stop is zero distance from the museum. In fact, it’s on the museum’s mezzanine level and, if the weather is nice, we like to sit in the pretty atrium, nestled among the climbing plants. If it’s morning, we order a cup of Taf coffee and a slice of a tart, like the one with fresh anthotyro cheese and sun-dried tomato, or a special-of-the-day from the dessert menu. For something heartier, the toasted sourdough pumpkin bread with fried egg, bacon, tomato relish and mascarpone is one of many tasty options. The museum’s café-restaurant also has a full menu if you’re staying for lunch or dinner. GP
Across the street from the Goulandris Museum is a neighborhood kafeneio that has been here, in one form or another, since 1937. An intrinsic part of the area’s history, it was named not after the famed Paris museum, but for the village of Louvro in the Peloponnese, hometown of the first owner’s wife. It remained a traditional kafeneio until the team from “It’s a Village” swooped in and gave it a respectful revamp. The classic wooden chairs, the iron tables and the lush green tree-shaded courtyard facing the museum have been kept as is, but the menu has been jazzed up.
We are particularly fond of the aged tsipouros and the signature cocktails that come with a Greek twist – like the Bloody Mary with mustard seed-flavored tsipouro, wild horseradish, Bloody Mary mix, smoked paprika and lemon. We also enjoy the meze, such as the beef meatballs with a mint sauce or the lamb souvlaki marinated in buttermilk and yoghurt with hot pepper oil. Breakfast is also one of the kafeneio’s strong points: eggs done in a variety of ways; the Mona Lisa sandwich with salmon, egg, cucumber, dill, spring onion, lemon and olive oil; and, of course, sweet and savory pancakes – all delicious. MP
It’s been four years since Elvi Dimitri Zyba and Nikos Vorias Opened their restaurant in an elegant Pangrati townhouse and set to work applying modern ideas and techniques to ingredients and recipes fished out of the big pool that is Greek cuisine. This winter’s menu, for instance, includes dishes offering high-end comfort and full seasonality, such as tarhana with liver, sweet garlic and Mavrodafni wine; giaourtotavas, a dish made here with lamb sweetbreads, rice and yoghurt; and succulent piglet with quince and wild mushrooms. AS
Located on a quiet pedestrianized street, Cupola is where we go for a proper carbonara with egg, a vitello tonnato, or playful appetizers such as the churros cacio pepe. Our favorite part of the menu must be the section that features their Neapolitan-style pizzas, with soft yet thin crust and fluffy edges. Along with the classics, you’ll find more creative options, including the hearty Bismarck, with mozzarella, smoked pancetta, sweet and creamy gorgonzola, San Marzano tomato sauce and a poached egg; or the one with fried artichoke hearts, prosciutto cotto and parmesan cream. There’s a good selection of wines and spritzes, too. GP
Mavro Provato (“Black Sheep”)
This is one of the best value-for-money restaurants in Pangrati and a popular hangout with politicians, artists, artists and, of course, local residents looking for a delicious and affordable meal in a pleasant environment. The meze are very nice, as are meat dishes such as the excellent grilled beef sausage, which goes a treat with a glass of tsipouro. The establishment serves tasty and well-executed dishes made with top-quality olive oil and artisanal products. Some of our favorites include the smoked eggplant dip with green and red peppers, spring onion, parsley and olive oil; the small cheese pies with kasseri, pastourma and tomato; and the tsouchti, a pasta dish made with linguini, toasted mizithra cheese and egg.
Mavros Gatos (“Black Cat”)
People come from all over Athens to this eatery for their perfectly cooked juicy lamb chops. If you’re in the area and have a hankering for a traditional taverna meal, head straight for Mavros Gatos. It’s a family-owned taverna that’s noteworthy for its excellent charcoal-grilled premiums cuts of meat and its homemade savory pies. GP
Frater and Soror
We prefer eating at the bar at Frater and Soror, a trendy hangout on the wildly popular Proskopon Square (or Manos Hadkidakis Sqaure). Created by the team behind the award-winning bar The Clumsies and the vermouth bar Odori, it came as a welcome surprise to the Pangrati crowd. Alongside sophisticated cocktails, it serves comfort food designed for snacking and heartier options as well. The “tacos,” for example, are a crispy pancake with handmade chicken nuggets, coleslaw and a slightly spicy jalapeno dressing. They go amazingly well with the smoked tequila and mango cocktail. If this snack won’t do the trick, order a melt burger – a Black Angus patty on a brioche bun with cheddar cheese – or the rigatoni with a ragu sauce, or the miso ribs. GP
Elegant, subtle and with small, well-balanced notes of intensity, chef and co-owner Tasos Mantis’ food is something special. The small bouquet of herbs you are given when you sit at your table in this tastefully decorated restaurant – which opened just a short time ago in a pretty neoclassical townhouse behind the Panathenaic Stadium – creates a sensory connection to his small farm in the west Attica town of Alepochori. It is a link that stays vividly alive throughout every stage of his two tasting menus: from the delicate Koilada shrimp wrapped in kombu seaweed to the excellent eel trilogy, and from the goat with aspromitiko beans from Limnos to the pear with pine nut ice cream, You get little hits of lemon verbena, lemon thyme, buck’s horn plantain and myrtle –they are right where you need them, and in just the right amount. AS
Mimis is a recent addition to Athens’ gourmet souvlaki scene, but it’s already a runaway hit with fans of things on skewers. You won’t find your classic Greek souvlaki here, but you will discover something new, original and thoroughly enjoyable. Everything is prepared to order, with restaurant-level execution: the brisket, the homemade lamb kebab, and even the eggplant cream and tzatziki sauces. As he plates up your food, chef Elvi Dimitri Zyba uses kitchen tweezer tongs to place the items onto a flatbread with such attention to detail that it’s as if he’s preparing a dish at a fine-dining restaurant. Another plus at Mimis is the interesting list of select Greek wines. MP
This article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.