The Best New Restaurants, Hotels and Shops to Discover in Athens in 2021

As soon as we emerge from self isolation, exciting new establishments await.


Sealed Earth

Get dirty with clay

In February, talented potter Loukia Thomopoulou launched an open ceramics workshop space aimed at professionals and amateurs alike. Established artists can use the venue as their own workshop – it has all the equipment, tools and amenities they need – while learners can attend classes over a period of 3 to 4 months. At these classes, artists from Greece and abroad share their know-how, offering masterclasses in design, sculpture, 3D design and 3D painting. Currently, Thomopoulou collaborates with others who teach their own pottery wheel and handbuilding techniques, including Stavros Perakis, Nikos Sklavenitis, Vangelis Magopoulos and the artist known as Hope. At Christmas, the objects created here are put up for sale at a bazaar/exhibition. Thomopoulou, who supports the valuable work of the Elpida Association of Friends of Children with cancer, is working on setting up an e-shop to sell functional and decorative works by various artists.

• 22 Erechtheiou, Koukaki, Tel. (+30) 210.965.5596, sealedearth.art

Minu

Design and coffee in “tropical” Psyrri

Enter the overgrown jungle-like space of Minu and enjoy a well-brewed coffee and some cake next to a beautiful lush green Alocasia, or walk among the photogenic Instagram-friendly Monstera plants and pick one for your living room. In this tropical setting, you can grab a bite, buy a plant or discover stylish decorative and functional design items, such as small furnishings, lamps and tableware, all hand-picked by the owner for his discerning customers.

• 50 Sarri, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 210.323.2022, 

Pitch

Fashion mixed with music

Panagiotis Vaxevanakis’ small shop contains clothes, accessories and fanzines, as well as vinyl albums by artists from Athens, Thessaloniki, Manchester and Berlin. Influenced by the 1990s and the rave and party scene, the owner has collections with bright colors and patterns such as the very feminine Launderettes bodysuits, or artist Marializa Kampi’s kaftans from her Digital Tribe series, with digitally printed psychedelic motifs. Vaxevanakis supports creative artists, ordering works that he himself likes, meaning many of the items on sale are truly unique products of single moments of inspiration. This is the place to find T-shirts, hoodies and balaclava caps and hats from different brands that you won’t find anywhere else in Athens.

• 10 Melanthiou, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 694.609.2594, pitchathens.com

Korkodilos

Free expression

Alexandros Douras is a young graduate of the Athens School of Fine Arts. Aged 25, he creates ceramic lighting installations using clay, light bulbs and candles. In August, he renovated Korkodilos, a space that originally housed a workshop he shared with two other artists and which now functions as a training workshop. Each lesson is a new challenge for the trainees as Douras explores ceramic art in an entertaining way. Creating a Mycenaean Phi-figurine, for instance, is a great way to learn how to build a tall and large object with different shapes. His fresh approach to teaching and the way he runs his classes, which are more like meetings between friends, makes Korkodilos a lively and popular place. Each month, a new course starts for all levels. On social media, Douras announces pop-up thematic courses open to everyone and well worth attending!

• 56 Plateon, Metaxourgeio, Tel. (+30) 698.796.4159

The Louvron

A new old café

It’s said that the café in the tiny park opposite the Goulandris Foundation on Eratosthenous Street first opened in 1937. The new owners, who took it over last June, 83 years later, found cuttings from the Daily Mail dating from 1938, framed them and hung them on the wall. They spruced up the ceiling, which was was decorated by an icon painter in 1960, repaired the old refrigerator, and kept the overall old-time atmosphere and style. The Louvron, which was once a neighborhood haunt for intellectuals who enjoyed “tea with brandy,” today serves cocktails with Greek spirits (such as a Bloody Mary made with tsipouro), retro Hionati (Snow-white) brand soft drinks from the northern town of Drama, coffee and sweets, as well as a daily menu with meze such as meatballs, sausage with vinegar and other delicacies. Its courtyard is a green oasis among the street’s many gray apartment buildings.

• 6 Eratosthenous, Pangrati, Tel. (+30) 210.701.6594

Athens 1890

Belle epoque Beauty

This three-story mansion at 10 Athinaidas Street, next to the historic Church of Aghia Irini in the square of the same name, stood derelict for decades. A wonderful example of Athenian Belle Epoque architecture, built by a silk merchant and designed to house a shop on the ground floor and residence above, the building is indicative of the economic prosperity of the area at the time of its construction. Recently, a Greek from abroad decided to give it a new life. Fully renovated, but retaining all its original architectural elements, the building is now home to the boutique hotel Athens 1890, featuring 14 modern rooms, a restaurant, a wellness/spa area and modern amenities. Its impressive facade with its ornate balconies is eye-catching, while the preserved original metal sign bearing the name “K. Symeonidis S.A.” of the textile business that once operated on the ground floor, stands as a reminder of the neighborhood’s vibrant commercial past.

• 10 Aghia Irinis Square (Athinaidas), Tel. (+30) 210.324.0603, athens1890.gr

Epic ice cream

Great greek flavors

Nestled between two popular hangouts on Mavili Square, Flower Pizzeria and the bar-restaurant Kyrios, the new takeout gelateria Epik Gelato adds a deliciously sweet note to nights out on the town (and not only). Focused on Greek flavors and using quality, low-fat and low-sugar ingredients from small producers, it aspires to awaken memories of childhood and vacations all around Greece. We liked the rose flavor with Denaxa brand loukoumi (Turkish delight) from Syros, the rose and coconut spoon sweet flavor and the amygdaloto (almond cookie) flavor made with caramelized almonds from Thessaly and orange blossom water. Epik Gelato’s extensive menu also includes classic flavors, including fior di latte and pistachio; sundaes such as the Chicago; seasonal fruit sorbets; pastries such as kormos (a mosaic cake) and coffee.

• 2 Doryleou, Mavili Square, from 11:00 daily

The Modernist Athens

For the contemporary traveler

Located in a privileged spot, the brand new Modernist Athens is a four-star boutique design hotel. The architecture, by the firm FormRelated, comprises minimal lines and solid materials, such as black marble, wood paneling and bronze details. A basic concept at play for the Modernist hotels in both Athens and Thessaloniki is the idea of linking the hotel with the city so the former becomes part of the fabric of the latter. In Athens, the hotel has joined with local artists and creators to come up with unique pieces. Potter Haris Panousopoulos has created a series of dishes and utensils; 2WO + 1NE have designed the wonderful staff uniforms; the famed bartender of The Clumsies, Nikos Bakoulis, has taken care of the cocktails; Spilios Palov has chosen vinyl records for guests to play in the suites; and the team at Ergon has taken care of the food. Elegant aesthetics, custom-made amenities, perfect nights of sleep and a modern sense of luxury make the Modernist Athens a model of hospitality. From its terrace, with guest-only access, Athens appears a green haven and the Acropolis seems just a few steps away.

• 4 Ioannou Gennadiou, Kolonaki, Tel. (+30) 216.000.2130, themodernisthotels.com

Materia Prima

Goodness in a glass

Materia Prima has opened a second location, in Messolongi Square, the most beautiful area in Pangrati that has so far remained under the radar. The wine bar, whose original branch is in Koukaki, serves some excellent wines from important terroirs and creative producers who wish to highlight old wine-producing areas and the characters of entire regions. Many of the selections on offer are natural wines. The basement has a walk-in cellar with a gravel floor, which you can visit and, with the help of a sommelier, choose a special bottle. The bar offers tasty bistro-style snacks, with interesting combinations of seasonal ingredients presented with refreshing simplicity. It opens at 10:00 for specialty coffee and breakfast, except on Mondays and Tuesdays, when it opens at 17:00. It also functions as a wine shop and sells online as well, at materiaprima.gr.

• 3 Messolongi Square, Pangrati, Tel. (+30) 210.725.5171, materiaprima.gr

Kobra

A dining bar

With a quirky interior design that features a confessional booth, a 3D-printed depiction of Michelangelo’s David and some white plastic chairs, Kobra is no ordinary bar, and it also boasts an extremely talented Athenian chef. Adam Kontovas, who’s had a remarkable career with many important restaurants in Greece and abroad, brings to Kobra a fresh culinary approach that mixes haute cuisine with references to street food from Asia and the Americas. His dishes require hours of preparation and specialized techniques that befit fine dining. The service is simple and very friendly. Sit at the bar, order one of the classic cocktails or another drink and enjoy it with some dry-aged duck, or a dish of potato Napoleon with tofu and eel.

• 11 Navarinou, Tel. (+30) 210.363.8134

Fig

What did you have for breakfast?

You’ll find tableware for the day’s most important meal in this tiny shop on the first floor of the apartment building above the arcade at 33 Praxitelous. The first shop in Athens to sell breakfast items exclusively, it stocks a variety of items made from Greek faience (a type of white clay), collectible enamel dishes and dishes from the 1940s, bamboo and ceramic bowls and mugs made by young contemporary artists, all in limited numbers. The collection changes regularly, but you’ll always find something to suit your kitchen.

• 33 Praxitelous, Tel. (+30) 698.918.2515, figshop.gr

This article first appeared in the print issue Greece Is Athens Winter 2020-2021 with the title “Very New and Very Nice”. The magazine, along with other past issues, is available for order at our eshop.


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