This is a tour for people who want to have a sampling of Greek cuisine both sweet and savory. There is much more than the popular gyros, Greek salad and baklava and where better than the city of Athens to indulge in Greek fare! This tour is set up around the city’s metro stops making these delectable spots easily accessible. Reservations are recommended, especially during the summer months and on weekends. Check out a couple of stores that sell Greek products that you may be able to take back home in your suitcase. TIP: Purchase a 24-hour ticket for Euro 3.00 which gives you unlimited travel on all forms of public transport (bus, trolley, tram, metro) for 24 hours from the moment you validate your ticket. Tickets are sold at metro stations or any public transport ticket booths (www.oasa.gr).
Day 1 - Athens
ACROPOLIS METRO: When you make your way into the Plaka historic district you will pass scores of tavernas. A favorite is TOU PSARA which is tucked amongst neoclassical buildings below the Acropolis. Tou Psara, which literally means the fisherman’s taverna, is over 100 years old and occupies two restored homes, a tree-covered courtyard and a terrace. The mezedes, appetizers, can make a meal on there own. Enjoy live folk music and friendly service (16 Erecthios and Erotokritou Streets, Tel: 210 321 8733, daily 11a-2a).
Before heading out of Plaka, get a taste of Greece at MESSOGEIA store. Here you will find olives, olive oil, wine, honey, cheeses, breads,pasta, chocolate, preserves, etc. many of which are organic. Try Greek organic chocolate, pasteli, a sesame seed bar made with honey (not sugar), and take home some pasta (52 Nikis Street, Plaka, Tel: 210 3229146).
MONASTIRAKI METRO: Follow the Monastiraki Square exit sign which brings you into the heart of the flea market. You will end up in front of the Tzisdarakis Mosque. Look right and you will see the Acropolis in the distance. Souvenir shops and street vendors abound, as do tourists. Amongst this hustle and bustle at the intersection of Ermou and Athinas streets is BAIRAKTARIS taverna. Bairaktaris is known for its kebabs and gyros, but also offers a number of Greek appetizers, vegetarian dishes and stewed meats. And to make your dining experience more complete, musicians perform live each day around lunchtime. (2 Monastiraki Square, Tel: 210 321 3036, open daily from 10:30am till 4am).
If you enjoy browsing through antique stalls you will stumble into Café Abyssinias located south of Monastiraki Square. CAFE ABYSSINIAS is very popular with Athenians on weekends. It is here where friends crowd around a table to share Greek and Middle Eastern mezedes, appetizers, and a glass of wine while listening to live music. The upper level has a great view of the Acropolis. Reservations recommended. Live music Friday and Saturday night and on the weekends during lunch service (7 Kinetou Street, Tel: 210 321 7047, open Tue –Sat noon to 1am, Sun noon to 7pm). If you take Athinas street in the direction towards Omonia, you will pass Athens’ version of a Farmer’s market, known here as kendriki agora or central market. This will stimulate all of your senses!
SYNTAGMA METRO: Just off Syntagma Square you can satisfy your chocolate craving at ARISTOKRATIKON (9, Karageorgi Servias street, www.aristokratikon.gr). This establishment has been making hand-made chocolates and other confections since 1928. You can even buy gifts to take bake home. In addition to the chocolates, other goodies include preserves, marzipan and great pistachios - both plain and sugar coated! Just around the corner you can grab a tiropita, cheese pie, at ARISTON bakery, another landmark that has been around since 1910 (10, Voulis street).
What is mastiha? Visit the MASTIHA SHOP to find out where it comes from and how it is used. You can even sample some. This store sells a variety of mastic-flavored products from cookies and sweets to cosmetics and gift items (corner of Panespistimiou & Kriezotou streets, Syntagma, Tel: 210 3632750).
PANEPISTIMIO METRO: A 10 minute walk uphill will get you to PAPADAKIS taverna in Kolonaki. Here delicious and super fresh Greek island flavors will make you feel as if you are at a seaside taverna. This is Greek cuisine taken up one notch. The octapus simmered in a honey-wine sauce is a favorite along with the Papadakis salad. This place even makes its own ice cream. One of the favorites is the halva (sesame and honey) ice cream. Reservations recommended. Oh and order your dessert in advance! (47 Voukourestiou & Fokilidou streets,M-Sa 1:30p-12:30a, closed Sunday and for 2 weeks in August, Tel: 210 3608621).
OMONIA METRO: ATHINAIKON has been serving great appetizers and meals since 1932. The ambience is reminiscent of Greece past and the service is good. (located on the corner of Panepistimiou and 2 Themistokleous streets). It is closed on Sundays.
METAXOURGEIO METRO: ARCHAION GEFSIS is the place to go for a taste of ancient Greek cuisine. Here you will eat in a unique setting using only a spoon and knife to sample fruits, nuts and grains served with a selection of vegetables and meats and a sweet wine.
16 Erecthios and Erotokritou Streets
And 12 Erotokritou. The Plaka
tel: 30 210 321 8733
15 Fokilidou & 47A Voukourestiou Streets
106 73 Athens, Greece
tel: 30 210 360 8621