In the old days, there could be one in every neighborhood: small groceries where you could also have a seat and immediately consume your purchases. With a limited number of tables and four or five quickly prepared dishes, these shops turned into places where people could do their shopping, socialize, and have lunch; a mix between a grocery store and a traditional mezedopoleio (restaurant serving meze).
While most of these establishments may have disappeared from the city today, the concept of trying different ingredients at the same place where you buy them lives on in new deli-restaurants that are becoming more and more popular. We begin our quest for these interesting hybrids in Piraeus and continue through to Kifissia, stopping at renowned shop-eateries with authentic atmospheres and at modern deli-restaurants serving new generations of customers. Here are eight of our favorites:
Skilodimos, established in the 1950s, is one of the few traditional shops of this kind still in operation today. At its three tables, regulars enjoy a little graviera cheese, served inelegantly with wine poured into stubby glasses. The fare goes perfectly with the crates of cabbages, oranges and onions piled around the place, creating an authentic atmosphere further augmented by shelves full of cleaning products, coffee tins, canned goods and paper products.
A refrigerator stocked with cheeses and salamis stands alone at the back of the shop and, behind that, lies a simple kitchen. Every so often, local residents pop in to buy necessities; when this happens, Filippos, the owner of the taverna, switches from serving tables to operating the cash register, all before ducking back to the small kitchen to prepare tasty meze for his customers: cheese, sardines, french fries, eggs, meatballs, and spicy “folitsa” omelets, made with kavourmas from Komotini.
16 Deligiorgi and 23 Skilitsi, Piraeus, Τel. (+30) 211.408.0630
Karamanlidika tou Fani gives you a taste of Greece
If you enjoy carefully prepared meze, Karamanlidika tou Fani is the place for you. Although considered a mezedopolio – owner Fanis Theodorakopoulos likes to call it a “house of meze” – it’s also a cheese store and salumeria that takes you on a culinary journey around Greece.
In an old building on Sokratous Street, you can enjoy small pastirma pies, kefte sausages, saganaki cheese with pastirma, sujuk, eggs and tomato and other gastronomic specialties. On your way out, you can also pick up cheeses – the aged 6-month-old graviera from Skyros is a definite must – and meat products, including karamanlidika sausages, salsiccia from Tinos, and nouboulo sausage from Corfu. You’ll also find rusks, naturally aged pastas, and smoked fish slices from Thrace, as well as the establishment’s own irresistible tomato and spicy pepper marmalades.
Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the baklava; the Arcardian version is available at the store on Sokratous Street, while the Politiko option is on sale at the store on Ermou Street. The choice is yours!
1 Sokratous and Evripidou, Tel. (+30) 210.325.4184; 119 Ermou, Tel. (+30) 210.321.9119
Ergon: So Much to Offer
More than just a hotel and a food store, Ergon near Syntagma Square houses a butcher’s counter, a fishmonger, a spirits shop and a greengrocer’s. You’ll find just about everything you need here, all sharing the hotel’s ground floor space with a casual restaurant that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. You can try out dishes made with authentic Greek ingredients, including eggs sunny side up cooked in staka, Cretan clarified butter, with hand-kneaded bread, peinirli made with long-maturation dough, pilaf with wild mushrooms from Grevena and kefalotyri cheese from the island of Ios, or petoura pasta from Aravissos, with ragu, tomato sauce and feta cheese.
On the shelves you’ll find products from more than 150 producers from all over Greece, including beers from Greek microbreweries, organic herbs, marmalades, conserves, pastas and olive oils.
23 Mitropoleos, Syntagma Square, Τel. (+30) 210.010.9090
Kostarelos: From dairy to deli
With its renowned cheeses at the heart of its product line, the Kostarelos deli-café in Kolonaki stocks award-winning feta cheese, cream and yoghurts, sauces and cured meats, and legumes from small-scale producers. For those customers who prefer ready-made dining solutions, the eatery serves light meals and tasty snacks, including a spinach pie with filo whose fresh butter aroma will overwhelm you, a cheese pie with soft feta and graviera cheese, and sandwiches made with their own cheese, all must-tries.
30-32 Patriarchou Ioakeim, Kolonaki, Τel. (+30) 210.725.9000
Da Michele: A little taste of Italy
In the northeastern suburb of Anoixi, nestled comfortably next to a supermarket, Da Michele has been serving its customers for the past 25 years. This general store-restaurant, modeled on an Italian osteria, has a warm atmosphere and a menu that changes every day depending on the mood of its owner, Mikele, who often prepares the appetizers himself. His vitello tonnato and his burrata with prosciutto and a spicy homemade marmalade are both excellent, while the spaghetti and gnocchi dishes are nothing short of delicious.
Patrons who make the drive up to Anoixi to try these dishes also stock up on cheeses, jars of anchovies, canned goods, charcuteries and carefully chosen Italian drinks, all on sale here. A touch of shopping after dessert is often the order of the day, with customers taking a little taste of Italy home with them.
61 Marathonos, Anoixi, Τel. (+30) 210.814.0525
Barolo, for fine food and shopping
Food and shopping go hand-in-hand at Barolo in Psychiko. There are two entrances. One runs through the garden to the restaurant where the tantalizing smells invite you to try the vitello tonnato, the salted cannoli, the delectable cacio e pepe, the freshly-baked pinsa or the black pig cutlets with a crispy crust. The other entrance leads to the delicatessen, which has its own selection of gourmet food items, most of which are Italian delicacies.
Its cheeses and charcuteries can also be served at the tables, both inside and outside. The outdoor area has been outfitted with awnings and heaters, creating a warm, cosy atmosphere. Patrons can choose from a select wine list and enjoy their drink with an aged 36-month-old parmesan, a pecorino, a Comté, a Cretan goat graviera or an Arseniko cheese from Naxos, or with prosciutto, salamis or chorizo. What’s more, they can take home whatever they don’t finish. The delicatessen is open until late at night but, if you want your meat sliced, make sure you place your order before 22:00.
1 Davaki, Psychiko, Τel. (+30) 210.671.7600
Salumaio di Atene: From pasta carbonara to fish roe
An Italian restaurant, Salumaio di Atene has been serving customers in Kifissia for 25 years. Though many of its loyal customers are local, there are others who make their way up to this northern suburb of Athens just to enjoy its classic Italian dishes, including pasta bolognese, pasta carbonara and different risottos; seasonal dishes, such as ossobuco served with risotto alla milanese with saffron, are also popular, as is the truffle tagliatelle with crayfish and Noilly Prat sauce. Salumaio di Atene has augmented its menu, offering more dishes today than it did when it first opened its doors.
There’s also a range of delicacies that customers can buy to go – these include a variety of cheeses and charcuteries, various truffle products, Martelli spaghetti (exclusive to Salumaio di Atene), sauces, their own pesto sauce, fish roe, oysters, scallops, and more.
3 Panagitsas, Kifissia, Τel. (+30) 210.622.3934
La Meat Maison: The house of meat
Also located in Kifissia, La Meat Maison offers visitors a unique shopping and dining experience. Here, prime cuts are king. With outstanding selections from leading producers, the specialty butcher shop prepares visitors for what to expect in the restaurant.
The restaurant, in turn, highlights some of the stars of the butcher counter, from the steaks du jour to the tartar, the burger and the very special meat-lovers pizza made with striploin from olive-fed Wagyu beef. With a wine cellar that boasts a selection of carefully chosen imports and a delicatessen with savory accompaniments, such as sauces (including a wide variety of BBQ sauces), mayonnaises, mustards, salts and olive oils that complement the meat perfectly, this place makes it difficult to leave empty-handed.
92 Charilaou Trikoupi and Alamanas, Kifissia, Τel. (+30) 210.808.737.2210, 210.808.5183