On rooftops and on floors, inside stoas, behind mysterious doors, next to the fisherman’s fresh catch… Mini gourmet adventures of great interest take place at unimaginable places. We invite you to discover the hidden eateries of the Greek capital!
Take the elevator to Cantina, nine floors up!
They had been described to me in detail: small and juicy, smaller than biftekia but a little bigger than meatballs, like a filling burger patty. The description also focused on the location, a type of canteen on the rooftop of a building in Syntagmafrequented by politicians, lawyers and other suits who work in the area.
Even though it has been here long enough, I recently discovered it and am willing to admit – without meaning to downgrade it in the slightest – that you may have probably tasted better meatballs, though I doubt you enjoyed a better view than this private patio on the 9th floor in the heart of Athens. The Houses of Parliament on one side, the Acropolis a stone’s throw away on the other, and views extending to the sea.
Biftekia, omelette, cucumber and tomato salad (with peeled tomatoes!), fries, kefalograviera cheese and two beers – this is our regular order, which leaves us 100% satisfied. And this pretty much covers the choices on offer here.
Karageorgi Servias 2, Syntagma, Tel. (+30) 210.322.3625, every day 10:00-18:00. Closed on the weekend. 5-8€/person without drinks.
Meet me in the back Avli (yard) in Psirri
The door is secured and if you aren’t in the know, you won’t be able to find it. This indoor patio of a 19th century building is akin to a journey in the Cyclades. All year around, it offers comfort to those experiencing holiday nostalgia.
In a setting that seems like a blue-white coffee tavern on some island, nestled in the Hora square – this place actually used to be a coffee shop before the war. It serves meze, sauteed liver and pork, spetsofai (Greek sausage and peppers) and meatballs, platters, cucumber and tomato salad, sausages and omelettes. The people who flock here are filled with such laughter and joy, one would think they were on their way to the beach.
Agiou Dimitriou 12, Psirri, Tel. (+30) 210.321.7642, everyday 11:00-02:00, closed on Tuesdays. 10-15€/person, without drinks.
You’ll need your GPS to find Afthereto
A few kilometers from Kifissias Avenue, after passing Syngrou forest, the “Ursuline” Greek-French school and the Vorres Estate, Afthero is hidden among the trees; a small escape located in the north of the city. The weather is different there, think two degrees colder.
A cute taverna with good, quick service and friendly, welcoming people. The cuisine serves classic taverna fare From bekri meze, saganaki, stuffed beef patties and blanched wild greens, to cod with garlic puree and sarikopites (cheese pies with honey). They also serve some more particular dishes, such as freestyle pancakes, snail stew, lamb tongue with mustard and chilli con carne. The peppers with spicy cheese dip are also a great choice.
Pefkon 10, Melissia, Tel. (+30) 210,802.9309, everyday 19:00-00:00, weekend 12:00-00:00. 15-20€/person without drinks.
At the Varvakeios market for fresh fish, meat and … sushi!
If you haven’t tried sushi prepared by a cook holding a fishing line while standing in the sea, then you have not eaten fresher sushi than this! The sushi masters at Hasapika Descale gut fillet, remove fine bones with tweezers, inspecting the fish directly from the source.
This setting is entirely authentic. Located inside the Varvakeios market, which gives them direct access to fresh materials and products, the chefs are spoiled for choice! Exceptional sushi, sashimi, nigiri, everything prepared with fresh fish and seafood, served artfully on little mounds of ice on the lids of styrofoam packaging. All of this in the heart of the central market of Athens. They also serve fish soup.
Filopimenos 4, Varvakeios Market, Omonoia, Tel. (+30) 216.070.7026, everyday 12:00-17:00, closed on Sundays. Sashimi and nigiri from 3€ per piece, και inside out roll from 6€ for four pieces.
Ring the doorbell at the Association of Greeks from Egypt
An old fashioned room with numbered rotondas covered with linen tablecloths and doilies. You do not come here for the atmosphere, but for a sense of lost authenticity.
The Association of Greeks from Egypt offer doses of nostalgia by serving food packed with memories from the motherland: delicious falafel and kobeba, kofte, molasses with rice, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh and delicious hummus, with heaps of tahini. I love the way they cook Egyptian rice, with cashews, pine nuts, raisins and mince – a celebration of flavors.
The rear windows looking out on Patition“frame” views of the Museum.
This article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.
3rd September 56, Tel. (+30) 210.821.3038, Monday – Friday 12:30-21:00, Saturday 12:30-00:30 and Sunday 12:00-16:00 10-15€/person without drinks.