Come for the Exhibits, Stay for the Food: Athens Museum Restaurants We Love

In August, Athenians become tourists in their own city and rediscover its museums, not only for their exhibits but also for their excellent restaurants.


By Georgia Papastamou

 

Dinner by the lake with the waterlilies

Omelet with prosciutto and asparagus, English muffins, handmade focaccia, and acai blows fill tables in the small forest of Natu every morning. The restaurant at the Goulandris Natural History Museum is proud of the zen atmosphere which prevails in the shade of its numerous trees, around a pond with waterlilies. Deipnosophistirion, which caters the food, creates a combination of Mediterranean and Asian flavors for lunch and dinner.

They serve classic treats like pizza, but also great pasta, such as fresh tagliolini with scallops, clams, calamari and Asyrtiko wine sauce, red pepper flakes and lime, as well as black angus burger and fresh turbot with miso, white eggplant puree, glazed baby carrots and spinach with soy and black sesame. There is also a generous cocktail list, including aromatic sours and fresh, low alcohol offerings such as a classic Pimm’s Cup or Port Cobbler, which balances fresh lemon, Cointreau and fresh forest fruit cordial.

Natu

Levidou 2 and Othonos, Kifissia. Tel. (+30) 210.801.1170.

Monday-Sunday: 10.00-2.00.

Ancient Cycladic culture and contemporary cuisine

The light filtering through architect Stelios Kois’s delicate sculptured roof and the tropical plants makes the Cycladic Café of the Museum of Cycladic Art particularly attractive in the eyes of those visiting to view the collection of the ancient Aegean civilization, and those in search of a calm place to meet amid the bustle of downtown Athens.

The sliding translucent roof lets air into the space so that as you enjoy your well-made brunch or lunch you feel as if you are sitting outside. Try eggs baked with parmesan crème, crisp prosciutto, baked cherry tomatoes and toast, perfectly cooked scrambled eggs or poached eggs on potato foam with hazelnut praline and sourdough croutons.

Among the offerings in the refreshed menu are also three dishes created chef Giannis Baxevanis: thinly sliced marinated roast chicken thigh with baby roast potatoes and fresh salad, sea bream baked with wild greens with ouzo and lemon, and orzo with spinach, asparagus, sundried tomato and Cretan galomizithra cheese. A list of Greek wines from small produces as well as well-chosen wines by the glass are available to accompany your meal.

Cycladic Café

Neofytou Douka 4, Athens. Tel. (+30) 210.722.8321.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10.00-17.00, Thursday: 10.00-20.00, Sunday: 11.00-17.00, Tuesday: closed.

The terrace nearest the Parthenon

On summer afternoons, few choices can compete with a cool drink on the terrace of the Acropolis Museum. After asking for a free admission ticket in the lobby, ride the elevator to perhaps the most privileged terrace in the city. With a panoramic view of the Acropolis and the surrounding historic hills of Athens, the restaurant serves creative Greek dishes which change with the seasons.

On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant stays open until midnight, serving a special menu based on classic and traditional recipes, with a special focus on local PDO ingredients. Among them are roast lamb with chickpea puree, gravy and millefeuille of eggplant with goat’s cheese, and seabass with shrimp dolma, fisherman’s soup sauce and fish roe mousse. The cheese plate with Naxos or Cretan graviera, smoked Metsovo cheese, manouri from Thessaly, ladotyri from Lesvos, katiki from Domokos and kasseri from Xanthi is complemented by the wine list which is organized by Greek region.

Acropolis Museum Restaurant

Dionyssiou Areopagitou 15, Tel. (+30) 210.900.0900.

Monday: 08.00-16.00, Friday-Saturday: 08.00-24.00, Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday: 08.00-20.00.

Soumada by the palm trees

On the top floor of the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, the café puts out tables overlooking the archaeological site of Kerameikos and the Acropolis, while the equally beautiful interior is adorned with the Navine G. Khan Dossos’s installation “Imagine a Palm Tree”, a wall-painting exploring the fascinating history of the palm tree in Athens.

The menu is mainly restricted to coffee, fresh orange juice, soumada (almond cordial), vanilla-mastic sweet served submarine-style in a glass of water, preserved fruit “spoon sweets” and simple sandwiches, but the atmosphere will charm you. You can use the occasion to visit the temporary exhibition of 19th century ceramics, before heading for the roof, which has become a shared secret among those in search of a quiet spot for a break during the day.

Benaki Museum of Islamic Art Café

Aghion Asomaton 22 and Dipylou 12, Tel. (+30) 210.325.1311.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10.00-18.00, Sunday: 10.00-16.00, Monday-Tuesday: closed.

Fried eggs and Francis Bacon

Rodin’s lovers, locked in their eternal kiss, several works by Picasso, Van Gogh and Miró await visitors on the first floor of the Basil & Elise Goulandris Museum, which continues over three more floors, full of emblematic works of modern and contemporary art. On the mezzanine is the museum’s café-restaurant, the highlight of which is the cool atrium, surrounded by vegetation.

In the morning you can request your eggs fried, served with Domokos katiki cheese, apaki cured pork and tomato marmalade, order an open pitta with fresh anthotyro cheese, or choose one of the sweets of the day to accompany your coffee. In the summer, we opt for the peach cobbler. Combining Greek elements and international influence, the menu designed by chef Chrysanthos Manolopoulos includes several choices for lunch or an afternoon meal – from pulse salad, pasta with goat cheese and croaker fish with fricasseed greens, to tuna poke bowls and chicken with avocado and sweet potato.

B&E Gouldandris Café-Restaurant

Eratosthenous 13, Pagrati, Tel. (+30) 210.756.2895.

Wednesday-Sunday: 10.00-18.00, Friday: 10.00-20.00, Monday-Tuesday: closed.

Coffee in Schliemann’s garden

The cliché description of an “oasis in the city center” is actually just right for this fairytale courtyard with its Mediterranean plants and copies of Greek statues. At the back of the mansion designed by Ernst Ziller for Heinrich Schliemann, the amateur excavator of Troy and Mycenae, you will find the Numismatic Museum café. It serves simple salads, sandwiches, savory tarts of the day, but also good Greek coffee, herbal teas and milkshakes, and every Thursday it hosts musical evenings, usually featuring jazz.

Garden café in the Numismatic Museum

Panepistimiou 12, Tel. (+30) 210.361.0067.

Monday-Sunday: 9.00-23.00.


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