Thursday, June 21, 2007

Athens Restaurants Eating Out in Athens

In Athens like all over Greece the Greeks in general love to go out for dinner or lunch. The traditional Greek taverna was the main place to go in the old days and this tradition is still a popular choice. From the beginning of the 20th century until the late 1980s one of the most time-honoured locations for Greek tavernas was at Plaka at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens. The typical fare of those tavernas at this time was a simple menu of traditional Greek food, washed down with Greek wines, mainly Retsina served straight from the barrel. The walls were often decorated with paintings of inebriated Athenians and there was live music of one or two guitars. Also there was often a guitar hanging on the wall for any musically inclined customer to pick up and play for the enjoyment of all the company. 
In the small neighbourhoods of Athens Greece, until the end of the 1960s, was the famous Bakalotavernes. This type of tavern was found inside the grocery store. Many grocers shops had a few tables inside their shop where they served ouzo and retsina with a selection of meze, usually comprising olives, cheese, salami, or rega (the Greek name for kippers). Another popular eating out destination for the Athenians during the weekend was at the Hasapotavernes. These were Grill Tavernas that were located in the villages around Athens the main menu in the Grill taverns in the past and now ,is the grilled lamb or pork and other meat dishes like Kokoretsi ,Gardoumba and Splinantero (about this specialties we are explain in our Greek food recipes section). The villages of Vary, Varibombi, Grammatiko, Gaza, Pahi, Aspropyrgos where among the most popular destinations for the Sunday eating out of the Athenian family . This practice still exists today although many of the above villages are no longer the small rural communities they once were but have become incorporated into part of the Greater Athens area. 
Typically though, the most popular eating place for the Athenians, as well as the rest of the Greek population, is the Souvlaki shops, known as the souvlatzidiko, where you could buy souvlaki with pita bread (usually to take away although some provided seating areas). This type of food is the original fast food for the Greeks. The most famous souvlaki shops were in Piraeus, mainly in Nikea or Kokinia. They came to be sited in this particular area due to the immigration into this area of thousands of refugees from Smyrna in 1922 who brought with them the best Greek recipes for Souvlaki.
Another famous type of restaurant in Athens is the Patsatzika where soup made from beef offal is served as well as soup made from cockerel or goat. This is an excellent meal to eat after a long and boozy night out. The most famous Patsatzika in Athens are to be found inside the meat market of Athens in Athinas Street which is very close to Monastiraki. 
Restaurants in Athens today have changed a lot, although the Patsatzika and Souvlaki shops still exist and are still a frequent choice. Many of the typical tavernas, however, have been replaced by Mezedopolia which sell only varieties of Mezes. The old grocer's Bakalotavernas have changed to Ouzeria and the old kafeneion to cafeterias. Furthermore, all over Athens you can now find international food restaurants, growing like mushrooms in every district, providing tastes that were unknown to the Greeks few years ago, like tacos from Mexico, curry from India and Thailand, Japanese sushi, Peking duck and other Chinese food as well as more obscure cuisine from around the world ,not to mention the numerous Pizza takeaways that most of them using home delivery. This is all a natural reflection of the increased standard of living of the Greek people, who now travel more and are fully aware and open to the cultural tastes of other countries. As well as these changes you can now find, on almost every square in Athens, fast food outlets like Pizza hut ,MacDonald's or its Greek equivalent, Goodys. (The hamburger first made its appearance in Greece in the late 1970s!). In the centre of Athens, you can find Starbucks and Subway shoulder-to-shoulder with the Greek cafe/bars. 
So, this is what is on offer to eat out in Athens. However, coming as a visitor from another country it would be a pity if you do not taste the traditional Greek food. Tourists mainly still go for this kind of food to the restaurants that exist around Plaka. However, if you want to sample great fish dishes and other seafood the best places to go are down along the coast of Piraeus starting from Piraiki (which is the best and where you can also enjoy amazing sunsets facing the Saronic Gulf) to Zea, Kastela and Mikrolimano where you can enjoy your seafood in the surroundings of luxury yachts moored in the marinas. 
In the last ten to fifteen years the area of Psyrri in Athens has become another fashionable place to eat. Here old blacksmith and carpenter's shops have been converted into restaurants, cafeterias, mezedopolia and music clubs. A once neglected area of Athens, Psyrri today is one of the most popular places for a night out. The reason behind this was due to the government's decision in the 1980s to include Psyrri, along with many other areas around the Acropolis, into the historical centre of Athens. As in Plaka and Thissio, in Psyrri many of the roads have become pedestrianised areas and, today, once could argue, that Psyrri has stolen the old glory of Plaka. 
If you are intending to stay in Athens for longer than a day or two it is worthwhile to take advantage of the improved transport facilities that the city has to offer and get out of the centre to the coastal areas. Some recommended areas are along the Athens coats like Alimos , Voula ,Kavouri Vouliagneni and Varkiza .
Eating out in Athens can be a real gourmet experience so do not just settle for the ubiquitous moussaka and stuffed tomatoes, get around and discover the hidden gems that the city can offer to satiate your appetite and, at the same time, enjoy the real Greek experience.Have a look in our map of Athens to locate some of the above areas .

For those that want to know what I recoment and is my absolutely personal recomendations and not advertisment like all websites about Athens Restaurants do here are some hidden tips.
Fish Restaurants:

You will find them in Piraeus and especially in Hadjikiriakio and Peiraiki.

Taverna Margaro run by Lazaros and his sons Markos and Kostas right next to the main gate of the Marine Cadets school in Hatzikyriakou street 126. The Tavern is famous all over not only Piraeus but Athens as well mainly because at Lazaros taven you can the best Greek Salad in Greece plus the best Retsina from the barel and superfast service. The menu is simple just fried shrimps and fried red mulets or red Sea Bream. Markos on the fried pans, Kostas at the service and Lazaros the organizer. Great Eatery don't miss it.In the same neighbouthood there are some more Fish restaurants as well.

Another very well known fish restaurant in Peiraiki is Diasimos fish restaurant. Here you have a large variety of sea food to choise, Greek meze dishes and the best place to try grilled Octopus and enjoy the view to the Saronic gulf and Salamina.

Best Souvlaki restaurants:
For sure you wont find them in central Athens, Plaka or Monastiraki, Souvlaki restaurants or better to say Souvlaki take aways are to be found in Nikea and Korydallos like the famous "Aganaktisi" in Taxiarhon and Spetson street and "Kohili" at Agiou Georgiou street Korydallos.
Some well known souvlaki restaurants in Piraeus is "Karababas" at Agios Dionysios not far from the Gate 3 of Piraeus port.


Post a Comment

<< Home