In the urban neighbourhood of Gkyzi near the centre of Athens and very close to one of the very few green parks in Athens, Pedion Areos, the last years a small community has been formed by Kurdish refugees. They have their own stores and live peacefully among the older inhabitants of the area. At the same time they have brought with them, their culture and most of all their distinct cuisine, which is similar to the Turkish but also has strong influences from the Middle East and Persia with a few touches from India. The Kurdish cuisine includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, while the primary meat is lamb and chicken. Its savory dishes are usually served with rice or Naan (flat bread).
Nowadays you could taste this unique cuisine at two authentic and unpretentious restaurants, very close to each other, at the streets beside Pedion Areos, an area which the previous decades was very popular among university students for its cheap taverns. Both places have the ambience of a Greek tavern with very simple but kempt decoration.
Anadolu : The place was known to the Kurdish and Turkish community of Athens for many years. They, along with few Athenians, came here to taste generous and tasty Kurdish and Middle East cuisine. And then, three years ago, its owner and chef Selim Seltzouk, a refugee himself, decided to take part in the Greek edition of the show Master Chef. Although he did not win, his personality and cooking skills made him at once a celebrity and everyone in town began to ask about his restaurant. Nowadays the place is always packed and during weekends, reservation is almost obligatory. The menu is long and it is hard to make a choice but everything is tasty and very well cooked. Selim is everywhere, he takes orders, attends the cuisine and watches everything to be well organized. From the menu, the kassik salatasi (spoon salad with tomato) is fresh and original, the lahmatzoun is extra thin and tasty, the kebab is perfectly grilled and spiced, while the patcanga (fried pie) with pastirma is excellent. However, a dish that will really surprise you is perde pilavi, which is chicken with rice, cheese, raisins and almonds, wrapped with phyllo and baked in the oven [photo at the top]. This is a plate executed to perfection, which elevates the restaurant to a higher level. At the end, taste one of the fine desserts like baklava and koyniefe. (Bousgou 2, Pedion Areos – Gkyzi)
Leylim Ley : Just a few hundred meters up the road from Anadolu, back in 2011 three Kurds and a Greek opened this small tavern and named it after a poem by the Turkish communist and intellectual Sabahattin Ali. The clientele here is mixed. Students, families, foreigners and inhabitants of the neighbourhood, sit side by side to taste real homemade food, prepared and cooked with care and love. Especially, if the weather allows it, the few tables on the pavement outside the restaurant, overlooking Finopoulou hill, are real cozy and the homy atmosphere of the place will immediately transfer you away from the city buzz. The menu offers many choices and everything is always fresh and tasty. Some dishes however stand out, like ali nazik (kebab cut into pieces served with eggplant puree) or beyti kebab (kebab wrapped in thin pita bread served with walnuts). Also you should try hanum kjofte (an alternative to Greek – Turkish ntolma) and probably the best hunkjar beyendi (beef cooked in tomato sauce served with eggplants and yogurt) in the city. At the end always leave place for the perfect syrupy baklava. (Valtinon 2, Gkyzi)
These two places are a common secret among those who love this cuisine and those who seek to find unique tastes and flavours in the city. But the secret has begun to spread all over town and more people every day come at this small Kurdish corner of the city. We hope the two places to retain their authenticity and unique homy ambience.