Nestled among the narrow hilly streets of Kastella, Psarokastella is a hidden gem. In this part of the neighborhood, reminiscent of a village, the eatery lays out its tables on the street, and customers bask in the light that bursts through the low-level apartment buildings. The sight of cars in this part of town is rare. While Kostas explains the menu, his wife Maria cooks in the kitchen, while their two sons serve tables and take care of everything else. “I am from Chios, but I learned to cook from my mother, who came from Constantinople,” says Maria. Her cousins, who still live on the island, have their own fishing boats and provide her with fresh ingredients.
There are many reasons to search for this place: the well-grilled fish, the handmade taramasalata and the soft, tender octopus sauteed in semi-sweet wine. But the house special is the shrimps. Served with a loose, slightly sour sauce with a hint of spice, this recipe is a well-guarded secret. Even though there are no views of the sea from here, when this particular dish arrives at the table, it is time to begin dunking your bread in the delicious sauce.
19 Skra, Piraeus
Tel. (+30) 210.422.2237
Giannis is a classic in the area. Located on Hatzikyriakou Avenue, opposite the schools, this small taverna has been a meeting point for those who love fresh fish and seafood for over 30 years. The family who owns the restaurant are from Piraeus, with roots from the island of Symi, which explains the fact that a serving of the famed Symian shrimp isn’t missing from practically any order. They know how to work with their exceptional ingredients – from the small seafood, to the big fish they procure daily.
The fragrant taramasalata, the well-cooked greens, the chewy octopus and the pan-fried mussels with a slightly tangy fresh-tomato sauce, are just some of the menu’s highlights.
Tel. (+30) 210.418.0160
Kapilio tou Zahou
Wine barrels and an atmosphere of another era define Christos Zahou’s restaurant in Kaminia. It was first opened by Vasilis Batagiannis in the 1960s, when the menu began and ended with wine, and the meze dishes were simple accompaniments. Years later Zahos, a customer of Batagiannis, fielded the idea of succession, and soon enough, he took over the historic taverna with his wife, Vaia. Today, it is she and five other women who manage the kitchen.
There are many who come here for the meat (especially the enormous stuffed bifteki), but the seafood options are also strong. Depending on the day, they grill or fry a variety of smaller or larger fish (the baby codfish are a must), and they serve generous portions of fried calamari, shrimp or baby langoustines. Their vegetables are sourced directly from Rendi, the area’s central fruit and vegetable market, while everything else comes from small local suppliers.
37 Komotinis, Kaminia
Tel. (+30) 210.481.3325
Mr Kostas Antonodimitrakis opened this ouzerie about 40 years ago. A sailor by trade, he decided to drop anchor in Venus Bay and, ever since, has been spending his days preparing a limited variety of simple, well-cooked dishes. Once in a while he leaves, only to bring back delicacies from his home island, Crete.
The Greek salad served here is enriched with small olives from his family’s olive grove, and a hefty drizzle of olive oil from his village – Kalyvia Monofatsiou, in south Iraklio. The kitchen serves generous portions of crispy calamari and juicy shrimps. Should Mihalis, the fisherman who comes everyday from the bay further down, catch any fish, Kostis will cook it on the grill for his customers to eat, as they enjoy the views, the gentle sea breeze, and the tsikoudia, a traditional grape-based pomace from Crete.
288 Themistokleous Coast, Piraeus
Tel. (+30) 695.513.7739
Speed is only one of the virtues of the meals served at Margaro, this pan-frying institution of the Hatzikyriakion. It also helps that customers do not have to consult the menu, or even think about their order too much. Red mullet, shrimp, or both? That is the only decision you have to make. Mention the quantities you want and, before you take a few sips of beer, the golden, crispy, pan-fried seafood will have arrived at your table.
Gazing out at the Naval Academy next door, indulge in the crispy fish delicacies that, though pan-fried, are not heavy with oil (as we said, this is an experienced kitchen and the oils are changed frequently). Do not forget the amazing shrimps, served with their juices and topped with natural sea salt. A tomato salad and loaf of bread are the only accompaniments. You do not need anything else.
126 Hatzikyriakou, Piraeus
Tel. (+30) 210.451.4226