A few years ago finding a decent meal in Athens was a bit of a wild-goose chase. Today, however, the streets are inundated with snappy bars and taste-making bistros, as well as farmers’ markets and delis offering Greek goodies. In Greece, breakfast is light and lunch readily sacrificed in favour of a long and leisurely dinner.
Housed in a former residence on Avdi Square, this bustling restaurant features mismatched furniture, brightly coloured walls and an open kitchen. Ask to sit outside and enjoy recipes and ingredients from all over Greece: black-eyed pea salad with smoked eel; slow-cooked octopus with pickled okra; or pappardelle with kavourmas (sautéed meat) from Komotini. All this plus lots of local cheese – a tasty accompaniment to a bottle of Greek red.49 Keramikou, 104 36
+30 211 1834 789
A pared-back space with pale wooden furniture and chalkboard walls, Mavro Provato (Black Sheep) is a modern take on the taverna. For starters, try the melintzanosalata (aubergine dip), the grilled halloumi and the petite pastries filled with pastourma (spicy cured meat). Next, opt for the meze dishes to share, including the sautéed pork, sausages and homemade mustard, and keftedakia (meatballs). Book ahead to avoid disappointment.31 Arrianou, 116 35
+30 210 7223 466
Ever since this former school in Exarcheia was transformed into a restaurant in the 1980s, it’s been a popular neighbourhood haunt. In summer, combine your Saturday visit to the farmers’ market of Kallidromiou with a laid-back lunch in Ama Lachei’s lush garden. During winter, the simply decorated interior is abuzz with peckish patrons.
The dishes are designed to be shared but the portions are generous, so you’re better off ordering a few plates at a time. Favourites include the salad with roasted manouri cheese, the smoked aubergine, the hilopites (a local pasta) with sausage ragu, the chickpeas with smoked pork, and the crushed yellow split peas with sweet-tomato jam.69 Kallidromiou, 106 83
+30 210 3845 978
At this well-liked café in Kolonaki, French baker Kamel Saci takes charge of breads while New Yorker Sal Lamboglia focuses on the brunch menu. Laid out on the counter in front of the open kitchen are French pastries (including probably the best croissants in town), cakes and sandwiches (try the mortadella focaccia). On the menu, which is handwritten on the glass, international brunch classics such as eggs Benedict and herby omelettes are served along with more substantial lunch choices, including lobster ravioli.45 Patriarchou Ioakeim, 106 76
+30 210 7209 933
This bar, artists’ hub and live-music venue is known for its sprawling garden that’s open from morning to night until late autumn. In 2010 the Six Dogs team transformed what was essentially a dead space behind three buildings into an oasis of trees, recycled wooden furniture, sand, swinging hammocks and soft lighting. Come here on a warm summer evening for expertly muddled cocktails, infused vodkas and Greek beers. Check the website for the programme of regular gigs and exhibitions.6-8 Avramiotou, 105 51
+30 210 3210 510
Images: Marco Arguello