While located smack dab in the center of the city, wedged in between Ermou and Mitropoleos Street which both run from Syntagma Square to Monastiraki, the small, pedestrian Petraki Street runs only for two blocks, from Voulis Street to Fokionos Street, and you won’t likely spot it unless you know where you’re headed. As a result, when the busy shopping street Ermou is packed with people rushing to complete errands, the parallel Petraki moves to a different, carefree rhythm. The atmosphere here is more relaxed, more cosmopolitan, and the likelihood of bumping into stressed pedestrians weighed down by shopping bags is thankfully much smaller.
While a few years ago most of us had never paid any attention to this little street, now there are plenty of reasons to do so. Heteroclito, boasting an excellent wine list and people watching; Pnyka, always a dependable source of good bread; the new addition Hanoi serving steaming hot Pho… the many choices create a colorful and interesting environment both during the day and in the evening. Below are our notes from our latest visit to Petraki Street, and some of its most standout hangouts.
The broth for the pho served at this unpretentious Vietnamese restaurant simmers for at least 12 hours before it’s served. Beef bones, scorched onions, ginger, anise and cinnamon are some of the ingredients that make it absolutely delicious. In large, steaming bowls of this broth float the rice noodles, shredded meat, fresh onions, mint and lots of coriander. Owner Nikoleta, a third-generation Vietnamese Athenian, serves the comforting soup with chili and slices of lime.
12 Petraki Street, Syntagma, Tel. (+30) 213.045.1379
Poke Hawaiian Sushi & Sando Athens
At Poke, owners Giannis Biniaris, Giannis Kandilidis and Konstantinos Giannoutas serve bowls inspired by the Hawaiian dish their restaurant is named for, pairing sticky rice with raw fish or shrimp and fruit with various toppings. With Giannis Kandilidis latest project, Sando Athens, they were among the first to introduce the Athenians to juicy Japanese sandwiches. When we’re in the neighborhood we love to stop by for a pork tsukune and kimchi sando, a sando featuring tender minced pork and beef patty with ginger, homemade tonkatsu chutney with smoked bacon, and Korean kimchi.
7 Petraki Street, Tel. (+30) 210.322.6653
Since 1981, Pnyka has been known for their excellent wholegrain bread and wonderful sweets and pastries. One of their secrets is the flour which they grind themselves from organic wheat in a traditional stone mill, and bake it in a modern oven to achieve the best and healthiest results. We often come here early in the morning for a freshly baked, warm cheese pie. The spinach pie, made with handmade dough and juicy filling with spicy feta, is also a popular choice. The man behind the recipes was Pnyka’s founder, the unforgettable, late Dimitris Kotsaris, whose wife and children run the bakery today.
24 Petraki Street, Tel. (+30) 210.324.5162
Bon Bon Fait Maison
At the west end of the street, we find the delectable creations of Kritonas Poulis. The pastries, which decorate the store window like precious artefacts on display, are as impressive as is his resume (among other things, he spent a decade working side by side with famous French pâtissier Pierre Hermé). The elegant Paris-Brest filled with praline crème mousseline, the macaroons with vanilla crème bavaroise and raspberry, and the “Dark chocolate pleasure,” with four different textures of chocolate, are some of our favorite desserts here. Those, and of course, the authentic French canelés – small and delicate pastries with crunchy, caramelized crust and light and soft centers.
30 Petraki Street, Syntagma, Tel. (+30) 210.331.8703
A popular choice for a glass of wine in the center, located at the corner of Petraki Street and Fokionos Street, Heteroclito set the tone for what the atmosphere of the area would come to be, when it opened almost ten years ago. The founders wanted to create a wine bar where good wine would be an affordable pleasure, and they made it happen. On the menu you’ll always find some of their new discoveries from Greek wine makers, along with rare bottles produced in limited quantity.
2 Fokionos Street & 30 Petraki Street, Syntagma, Tel. (+30) 210.3239406
The bar in front of the bar
In keeping with the vibrant atmosphere that makes Petraki Street what it is, The Bar in Front of the Bar is another establishment with unique character; here, the menu changes every day. Behind a curtain in the modern, led light-embellished space, a small workshop has been set up for producing syrups, bitters and purées. Besides the smart signature cocktails of the day, the menu usually also features two classic cocktails, to keep purists happy. There aren’t many places to put your drink down, but make sure you grab a place at the bar or one of the few tall tables if you plan on also getting a snack, because they also serve pizza, from a menu created by pizzaiolo Akis Varthalamis.
1 Petraki, Syntagma