For citizens of Thessaloniki, the first two meals of the day used to be separate affairs, with different food items on the menu for breakfast and lunch. However, over the last few years, the city has gone all in on the worldwide brunch trend. Cafés have added it to their menus, hotels – following the Thessaloniki Hotels Association’s ThessBrunch initiative – have introduced their own upmarket versions, and many restaurants now serve brunch all day long.
Eggs in all shapes and forms, pancakes, burgers and many other international dishes with local twists have joined company in the same repast.
The first restaurant to make brunch trendy was Estrella; it did so it by promoting its unique sweet treat, the “bougatsan.” A croissant filled with bougatsa custard and topped with icing sugar and cinnamon (like the traditional bougatsa), melted chocolate, berries or tropical fruits, the bougatsan went viral.
Another Instagram-friendly creation of theirs, the 30cm high Super Mega Hero pancake stack, served with maple syrup, hazelnuts and cotton candy, also made the menu, as did classic salads, like the respectable Caesar salad, and colorful smoothies with beets or mango. At Estrella, the brunch menu is the main menu, all day long.
In the same neighborhood, you’ll find the Ergon Agora. What started as one grocery shop selling the products of small producers exclusively is today a successful chain (the company now has 12 more locations, in places like Brussels, London and Singapore).
A comprehensive modern delicatessen, Ergon also serves food and coffee. Brunch is available from 10:00 to 14:00 and features, among other things, eggs with staka (goat’s milk butter) from Crete on sourdough bread as well as croissants, marmalades and sandwiches.
If you’d like to try a Thessalonian koulouri in a new way, Ergon serves them stuffed with cream cheese, chili and butter, all topped with two poached eggs. While you’re waiting for your food, you can browse through the products in the store and maybe even find some gifts for your foodie friends.
Less than a stone throw’s away is Koukou, offering an array of dishes centered on eggs, including a choice of sweet or savory French toast. Try the egg in a glass, with potato purée and parmesan, or, if you’ve arrived in numbers and you’re hungry, settle in for a marathon brunch by ordering the French toast skyscraper; five layers of bread separated by four layers of chocolate sauce. Open from 8:30 to 23:00.
Canteen, near the White Tower, is a classic, serving quality coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks, with a mix of Mediterranean and international flavors. Brunch is served between 10:00 and 19:00; it’s best to make a reservation on the weekends. People of all ages come here, and it’s also suitable for families. Try the excellent omelets, scrambled or poached eggs and freshly made sandwiches. The pancakes, light and delicious, are pure perfection and you can choose from plenty of toppings: anything from fruits to chocolate, honey, mascarpone or peanut butter.
On the first floor of five-star Excelsior Hotel, housed in a historic landmark building just a few steps from Aristotelous Square, you’ll find the restaurant Be*. It serves a rich brunch or breakfast, featuring energy bowls with Greek yogurt, savory pancakes, quesadillas with bacon, avocado and eggs as well as a healthy menu for fitness fans, with things like hummus, honey, walnuts and pomegranate. So close to the boutiques and the malls, it’s the perfect place to begin or end your shopping safari.
Newly opened Mahalo, in the Ano Ladadika neighborhood feels homey (despite its modern industrial decor) with its symmetrically arranged greenery, colonial-style light fixtures and a small kitchen, visible to guests through a glass window. The big tables allow for large groups to sit together – or, for those who like the chance to meet new people, you can share a table with others. On the menu you’ll find five brunch classics; eggs benedict, croque madame, and pancakes served in three unique ways. For something different, try the nutrition bowl, with yogurt, coconut milk, linseeds and various other superfoods.
Whichever dish you choose, you’ll be pleased, and you’ll start to see how seriously these restaurateurs take brunch.