An area with numerous squares – some say they have counted more than 30 – Ilioupoli offers a little of everything. From the slopes of Mt Hymettus and stretching to the sea, the “town of the sun” has residential parks, outdoor spaces ideal for leisure and sports, safe pavements for cycling and skating, cafes and mezedopolia (meze taverns) dotting the squares, give the area the genuine feel of a small town.
Ilioupoli has a hold over its locals, who rarely leave their big “village”. Meanwhile the food to be sampled and enjoyed here from the dozens of bakeries, dairy stores and grocery shops as well as many cookhouses and restaurants, offer even more reason for them to never want to leave at all.
Thimios Alexandris introduces his customers to the wonderful world of cheese in this old-school grocery store. This second generation owner collaborates with producers from all over Greece, filling the great refrigerator – the pride and joy of the store – with a variety of delicacies. He will not let you leave without tasting something special. Pastirma graviera cheese with fenugreek from Crete; soft mastiha cheese made from cow’s milk from Andros; cheese with natural mastic oil and sumac, goat’s cheese matured in natural caves on the island of Milos, also known as “Greek grana”; garlic cheese from Naxos that pairs perfectly with good retsina; delightful Crème de Napoleon, a kopanisti cheese from Evia with natural French roquefort fungus, by Farma Maltezos. Depending on the season and production, you’ll find 180-200 types of cheeses from all over Greece, as well as fine Greek cured meats, local pasta, pulses, flours, jams, pickles and more.
Iroon Polytechniou 30, Ilioupoli, Τel. (+30) 210.991.8730
Winner of the “Gastronomos” awards, Giannis Vogiatzidakis is an old-school merchant who’s always on the ball when it comes to unknown and exceptional products that are both beloved and hard to find. Paradosiako Bakaliko opened in Pangrati in 2008, though the branch in Ilioupoli has existed for just over a decade, operating as a sort of Ali Baba’s cave of wonders. In the renovated version you’ll see today, the elegant store has illuminated shelves packed with gleaming products. You’ll find mature graviera cheese from Crete, xinogalo (buttermilk) and kaseri cheese from all over Greece, as well as barrel-aged feta. There are plenty of other delicatessen delights on offer too, like noumboulo (sausage) and salado (local salami) from Corfu, amazing cured meats, dozens of jars with pickles, sauces, pulses, oven-baked baked from a bakery in Epidaurus, and select well-reared meat, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, the newest addition to its diverse product range. N.D.
28th October Square 6-8, Ilioupoli, Τel. (+30) 210.995.4500
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Paragon Brewery & Taproom
If the wine industry still retains a somewhat snooty reputation, the world of craft beer is friendly and open. A prime example of this is experienced at Paragon Brewery, a microbrewery-taproom that opened a few months ago and quickly gained a fanatical following from the southern suburbs and beyond. In the impressive industrial space of an old ironmonger, Tasos and Eleftheria Papadaki with brewer Giannis Psimoulis set up a unique hangout for beer lovers. The area with huge beer production vats is separated from the taproom space via a glass structure, so that the brewing process from beginning to end is visible while you enjoy your bevvy. You may want to find out more about the tours that often take place while you’re at it. Beyond their own creations, they also feature numerous beers from smaller breweries in Greece and abroad that are updated frequently. G.P.
Lemesou 3, Τel. (+30) 6906.208.212
Residents queue outside the Pietris family bakery from the early morning hours for a loaf of their freshly leavened (prozimi in Greek) bread, white or wholegrain. With a 30-year history in the neighbourhood, the bread baked here is heavy and dense, made with flour from Papafilis Mills in Corinth – also the birthplace of the Pietris family – and remains fresh for days. Among the pastries and desserts prepared at the bakery, try the white ouzo-biscuits from Corinth, which stand out for their singular, semi-chewy texture and are named as such because their dough is kneaded with plenty of ouzo for several hours before being shaped like a thumb. They’re ideal for Lent and Easter, but also sold all year round. G.P.
106 El. Venizelou Avenue, Τel. (+30) 210.995.5690
Opposite the “Ilioupoli” metro station is a small cookhouse on the corner where you’ll find well-cooked, simple and fresh homemade food. A mother and daughter run the kitchen, preparing a variety of fresh soups, pulses, vegetables in sauce, spaghetti, fish plaki (fish in the oven with tomatoes, potatoes and herbs) and other classic traditional recipes made with seasonal produce. The tender kokkoras krasatos (coq au vin) with spaghetti is a house special, as well as the chicken soup that is prepared almost all year around. Pork with potatoes, leek and celery, arakas (peas with tomato sauce), bean soup, lentil soup, chickpeas, imam baildi, broad beans with traditional sausage and keftedakia (mini meatballs, the only option that is fried) are some of the delectable dishes available to eat in or for take away. G.P.
Pironos 4-6, Τel. (+30) 213.030.0881
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I never thought I would go the extra mile for a pot of yoghurt, yet this famed dairy store in Ilioupoli, which produces a yoghurt like no other, is definitely worth the trek. With a spoonful of good honey, it also makes for the most nutritious and delicious breakfast imaginable. When still just a child, Vasilis Bakogiannis, who came from Parnassos, walked around the city selling his yoghurts. Around 70 years ago he opened his dairy store, initially making his products with milk from cows grazing nearby, on Mt Hymettus, and later with milk from shepherds in mountainous Corinth. This is where his son, Giannis Bakogiannis, sources his ingredients, continuing the family tradition with passion and dedication. In addition to the cow’s milk, custard cream, rice pudding, pure chocolate milk with cocoa and honey, as well as the “kaimaki” ice cream are must-try delights. G.P.
Chrysostomou Smyrnis 15, Tel. (+30) 210.973.6971