Word-of-mouth works like a charm in Athens. Every few months, new bar and restaurant discoveries attract hordes of people. Mere mentions during friendly chats, such as “Have you been to Nolan?” or “I was at Different Beast yesterday”, can be enough to broaden the familiarity of new spots within social groups.
So, the list that follows features places introduced by friends. Not yet mainstream, we recommend these spots before they become too hot.
1. Different Beast
In the city’s northern suburbs lurks a Different Beast – an industrial and rustic-styled coffee and brunch house, equipped with upcycled furniture and guided by environmentally friendly principles. It offers a fresh and nutritious menu, and attracts trendy and artistic crowds, and families with small kids and pets. It’s known for its delicious pancakes with fresh fruit, poached eggs with avocado and feta cheese, rocket salad, and soft haloumi cheese with strawberries. Design lovers reading magazines are often spotted here, mingling with each other and sipping Japanese whiskey as the sun goes down. Look out for Evita and Alex, the place’s likeable co-owners.
19 Kassaveti Street, Kifissia
• Tel. (+30) 216.700.4556
• Brunch from €7, evening bites from €8, wine by the glass from €6, cocktails from €10
2. Modern Rooftop Dining
Situated at a prime Athenian location – on the 7th floor of design hotel Athens was – this place offers an exquisite view of the Acropolis and the Columns of the Olympian Zeus. Modern Rooftop Dining assures diners a spot under the stars, whether seated inside or outside (courtesy of its glass roof). The impressive setting is complemented by a sophisticated mix of Greek cuisine fused with French and Japanese influences. Try the slow-cooked veal with mashed parsnip and wine sauce, the shell-based risotto, and the exquisite mille-feuille for dessert.
5 Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street
• Tel. (+30) 210.920.0240
• Appetizers from €12, main dishes from €18, wine by the glass from €8, cocktails from €10
This place arguably ranks as the most fascinating gastronomic phenomenon in Athens at this point in time. Located at the border between touristy Plaka and the downtown-proper area of Syntagma, Nolan became the talk of the town after opening. Its cuisine is dominated by Greek-Asian fusion elements, but is not restricted to them. Nolan’s extremely talented Greek-Japanese chef Sotiris Kontizas and his team prepare dishes backed by serious know-how, various international trends and experimentation over many months. Don’t refrain from trying; the outcome is delicious. Also, everything is prepared à la minute.
31-33 Voulis Street, Syntagma
• Tel. (+30) 210.324.3545
Pirée, a new artistic multi-space located in the capital’s port district Piraeus, has been set up in an old, stone-built blacksmith’s workshop. Visitors may wine, dine, and marvel at the interesting visual art here. Paintings, installations and design objects created by local artists are imaginatively incorporated into the place’s decor, thereby creating a fascinating environment.
78 Kastoros Street, Piraeus
• Tel. (+30) 210.408.2700-02
5. Aiolou 68
A little Mykonos lies hidden in the historic center of Athens, serving exceptional fish dishes at a radiant and warmly designed space. Backed by extensive experience in the restaurant domain, the team behind this venture has opted to keep most things familiar. The menu includes prawn spaghetti, marinated anchovies, steamed mussels, and spicy octopus buyurdi, all really worth trying. Besides playing it safe, the team has also ventured beyond the customary by adding some surf-and-turf elements to the menu. Choices include rib eye with lobster as well as burgers filled with black angus mince and smoked eel. The dishes go beautifully with the white Santorini wines on offer.
68 Aiolou Street
• Tel. (+30) 210.324.7925
• Appetizers from €3, main dishes from €7, wine by the glass from €2
6. Paleo Wine Bar
Operating at an old, high-ceilinged space which had a semi-dilapidated roof (now utilized as a sunroof) Paleo Wine Bar is a wine bar like no other, as its founder points out. Run by Yiannis Kaimenakis, an exceptionally gifted sommelier who has extensively explored vineyards throughout Europe, stocks with 360 wine labels hailing from Europe’s south, where the plentiful sunlight helps produce rich, dense wines. The décor, totally enocentric, features old wine bottles, books on wine, and crates. Accompany your choice with one of the day’s regional cuisine dishes.
39 Polidefkous Street, Piraeus
• Tel. (+30) 210.412.5204
7. The Zillers
The rooftop at a hotel designed by Ernst Ziller – responsible for some of the most iconic neoclassical architectural gems in the capital – is exotic, chic and offers a full and uninterrupted view of the Acropolis. Its bar, fitted with green marble from India and surrounded by a high-reaching garden comprised of some 2,000 plants, serves signature summertime cocktails made with bitter and sweet fruit. The kitchen, focusing on creative Greek cuisine, prepares dishes with emphasis on quality and traceability of ingredients. Try the sea bass with chickpea soup, finely chopped chorizo and rosemary.
54 Mitropoleos Street, Mitropoleos Square
• Tel. (+30) 210.322.2277
• Snacks from €7.50, dishes from €14, wine by the glass from €6, cocktails from €10