New and Cool in Athens

A mini-guide to the city's latest openings, from upmarket hotels to restaurants and cafes.


ELECTRA METROPOLIS ATHENS


NEW HOTEL ANCIENT VIEWS

In the hands of interior designer – architect Maria Katsarou-Vafiadis, of the London-based MKV firm, a 1960s office building, formerly home to the Ministry of Education, has been transformed into a stylish five-star hotel, oozing Athenian retro-chic coolness. Highlights start right from the entrance canopy, where you will see the refurbished post-Byzantine Church of Aghia Dynami, to the impressive lobby atrium, featuring a gigantic artwork by famous Greek artist Alekos Fassianos, all the way up to the roof garden and pool, which offers the most breathtaking 360-degree view to enjoy while sipping a cocktail or dining. Check out the cute ground-level bistro as well, where remnants of the ancient city can be seen through glass floors, proving that, wherever you dig in Athens, there is always something ancient to be found. • 15 Mitropoleos, Tel. (+30) 214.100.6200

BORSALINO


HANG YOUR HAT HERE

Inpired by the style and atmosphere of the Alain Delon film of the same name, Borsalino was created by four men who are all about style (and fedoras). Here, the day starts early with high-quality coffee. When you start feeling hungry, try the razor clams fried with salami from Lefkada and served in a sherry sauce, or the churros with truffle and parmesan; you can accompany the latter with a fortified wine. If you’re into cocktails, make sure you try one of the three seasonal drinks. In winter, they’re made with fragrant oranges from the Peloponnese. • 59 Kolokotroni, Syntagma • Tel. (+30) 210.323.2222

DRUPES & DRIPS

A TASTE OF ITALY

Fans of Takis Bakery near the Acropolis just got a whole new range of options, with a new Italian espresseria and a juice bar. Pick up a freshly made fruit juice, or choose a “pedigree” coffee prepared by expert baristas. At lunchtime, the small space becomes a cicchetteria, so you can try hams and cheeses from abroad or from small-scale Greek producers. There are no tables, so sit at the bar and have a glass of wine, spritz, prosecco or potent Greek tsikoudia with your nibbles. • 20 Zitrou, Koukaki • Tel. (+30) 210.923.0052

ERGON ATHENS


GREAT GREEK GOODIES
The successful “deli and cuisine” concept that started in Thessaloniki five years ago has finally reached Athens, after stopovers in London, Brussels and Miami first. You’ll love the small jars of  tasty delights, some containing hard-to-find traditional recipes, as well as staples such as spicy trahana, feta paste and taramosalata (fish roe dip). There’s a seating area for lunch and dinner serving delicious Greek meze, including stuffed vine leaves; split-pea fava paste with cured syglino pork; little cheese and pastourma pies; and smoked mackerel with roast potatoes – all best paired with a glass of ouzo from Lesvos or Chios.• 26 Mitropoleos, Syntagma • Tel. (+30) 210.331.5547

LOS LOROS


SOUTH AMERICAN STREET EATS
Venezuela and Colombia have joined forces in a colorful cramped kitchen in the ethnic heart of Syntagma Square. The food is served either to go or to be snaffled down at the counters outside. The stars on the menu are the delightfully greasy and gluten-free arepas and empanadas, with our favorite fillings being the crispy-skinned pork and the vegetarian options such as the corn flatbread with tuna salad, egg, corn, cucumber and lime, or the black-bean patty with quinoa, citrusy quasacaca and spicy sauce. The meals come with Colombian soda pops or with Venezuelan rum, and you can top your meal off with a cigar. • 14 Xenofontos & Nikis, Syntagma • Tel. (+30) 210.324.3232

MADRAS


THE WAY OF TEA
This wonderful teashop, which first opened in the port city of Piraeus in 1975, has now set up shop in central Athens as well, in a relaxing venue that sparkles with white marble and hundreds of metal tins containing more than 400 varieties of tea imported directly from Ceylon, China, India and Vietnam. Try the fine jasmine pearls, the Chinese oolong, the discreet Darjeeling from selected plantations, the ancient healing Pu Erh tea or any of the many Greek herbal teas they serve. Relax and enjoy the whole tea ritual, or grab one of the 20 takeaway options priced from just one euro per cup. • 7 Voulis, Syntagma • Tel. (+30) 210.324.2777

MAGIC BUS


HOP ON BOARD FOR A NIGHT OUT
The owners’ philosophy is that a night out should be a journey. Magic Bus, an emerging hot spot in Pangrati, is a good reason to visit this part of Athens. The interior design includes retro objects, a long bar dressed in vintage ceramic tiles and an installation resembling a bus stop. The signature drink here is a sweet blend of rums and tropical fruits, garnished with jellybeans and marshmallows. There are live music nights, while the regular DJs play rock, funk, soul and jazz. • 22 Spyrou Merkouri, Pangrati • Tel. (+30) 215.500.3160

LITTLE TREE BOOKS & COFFEE


A COZY CORNER NEXT TO THE ACROPOLIS
A group of friends, including an architect, an interior designer, a literature major, an artist and a cook created this café, which offers exactly what its name suggests: coffee and good reads on the less touristy side of the area around the Acropolis, in a lovely, sun-kissed space. It has a small collection of English-language poetry, literature, children’s books and coffee-table books on Greece. Inspirational quotes and the dessert menu for the day grace the blackboards on the walls. Try the lemon tart, the warm chocolate pie or the savory tart with cured apaki pork and chard. • 2 Kavalloti, Koukaki • Tel. (+30) 210.924.3762

ESTRELLA


YOUR NEXT #INSTAFOOD SHOT
The New York Times list of “52 places to go in 2016” includes the Estrella brunch house in Thessaloniki, renowned for the bougatsan – a croissant stuffed with bougatsa cream – which has gone viral on social media. A branch of Estrella has opened in Athens, in a 1935 art deco building. The chef is building on the success of the original by doing weird and wonderful things with food to wow both your Instagram followers and your palate. Among the 50 different dishes, you’ll find pizza made with the same dough used in Thessaloniki’s famous koulouri (sesame ring) or omelet with black truffle from Halkidiki. The Christmas menu includes red velvet pancakes with cheesecake cream, red fruits and homemade marmalade. The bar also mixes up cocktails to complement the food. • 24a Romvis, Syntagma • Tel. (+30) 210.321.8000

UPUPA EPOPS


AN UNDER-THE-RADAR BAR
This funky bar, with an open courtyard at the back of three conjoined interwar-era buildings, has brought a buzz to this residential neighborhood, quickly becoming the talk of the town. It opens in the morning for coffee, stays busy with a lunchtime crowd and the beat goes on until late for drinks and cocktails. Grab a seat on the retro couch for a chilled-out “Moroccan” with tobacco syrup. • 7 Alkminis, Kato Petralona  • Tel. (+30) 212.105.5214

PANTERA NEGRA


MEAN PERUVIAN CUISINE
The eccentric modern décor, the tiny bar and the open kitchen that allows you a peek into the action backstage are just a modest introduction to the big flavors of contemporary Peruvian cooking that await you: anticuchos, tiraditos, causas and chilcanos are only some of the delights on the fascinating menu. Check out the list of extracts, or macerados, created by the chef as a base for the wonderful cocktails, which include the amazing Chilcano made with pisco, tomato juice, celery, ginger ale and aji amarillo (a Peruvian version of the Bloody Mary that is a truly great aperitif). The ceviche made with “panther’s milk” is amazing, as is the braised oxtail with soy-sauce gravy and goat’s cheese, covered with rice paper. • 6 Kalogrioni, Monastiraki  • Tel. (+30) 213.036.4214

NOVAGEA

JUICED, THE HEALTHY WAY
A new pit stop for fresh fruit or vegetable juices in downtown Athens, Novagea allows you to create your own blends from the cornucopia of produce in the display case. There’s also a menu of juice blends reputed to alleviate different ailments and complaints: among them are mixtures to soothe the nerves, to boost the immune system, to give energy, to help lower cholesterol and to battle aging. Pick the one that suits you best and accompany it with a vegetarian snack. • 4 Amalias, Syntagma • Tel. (+30) 211.411.4981

WYNDHAM GRAND ATHENS HOTEL


AFFORDABLE LUXURY
For its first, ambitious opening in Athens, under its five-star brand Wyndham Grand, the world’s largest hotel owner in terms of properties number (8,000+) has chosen the up-and-coming neighborhood of Metaxourgeio, in the north-east part of the historic center. Named after a silk factory and close to the ancient necropolis of Kerameikos, this part of the city was once a no-go area for tourists, but in recent years it has been largely cleaned up and is gaining in popularity, thanks to a new wave of art galleries, coffee shops and quality restaurants. The hotel itself offers modern and affordable luxury, 276 rooms and suites, a naturally lit atrium restaurant aptly named Fos (light), an all-day lobby lounge called Silk, and the seemingly obligatory rooftop pool-bar and restaurant, Above, offering impressive Acropolis views. • Megalou Alexandrou 2 • Tel. (+30) 216.800

YOLENI’S


ALL OF GREECE IN ONE GROCERY STORE
If you think that this country is only about olive oil and honey, try visiting this unique five-story temple of Greek gastronomy to find local goods and produce. From local soda pops to nuts and kale flakes, and even local gin, you’ll find it all here. An amazing selection of over 50 brands of extra virgin olive oil, a wide assortment of cheeses, and dozens upon dozens of different kinds of canned goods line the shelves. It’s not all shopping: there’s a premium steak restaurant; a supervised play area; a juice bar; and an olive oil “bar” where you can sample some regional extra virgin Greek gold. Enjoy delicious pies with homemade Thracian pastry in the atrium. • 9 Solonos, Kolonaki  • Tel. (+30) 212.222.3600

PIREOS 138


EAT, SHOP, GAZE
The most pleasant way to start or end your visit to the Pireos Street Annex of the Benaki Museum is with a cocktail in its revamped, modern café-restaurant. The beautiful, sunlit space has been jazzed up with indoor plants, comfortable seating, large tables and a small stage for performances and live music. At the bright bar, you can choose between six custom-made cocktails or from a menu of dishes from the Mediterranean and beyond, including falafel and burritos. On your way out, drop by the gift shop which shares the space. You’ll find a good selection of great stationery, jewelry, gift items and interesting coffee-table books, as well as original crafts and utilitarian objects by Greek designers. There is nothing stand-offish about the store; it’s designed to invite customers to explore and peruse.• 138 Pireos & Andronikou • Tel. (+30) 210.345.3111, Closed Mon and Tue.


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