There are many fine places in Athens and its suburbs that base their cuisine on Greek tradition but at the same time want to offer something completely different from the classic Greek tavern. They offer a chance for casual dining with a fun, comfortable, laid-back atmosphere and affordably priced menu. In this article, we present our top four choices for casual dining in Athens in our effort to share with you our passion for locating and tasting a perfect dish.
Foofootos : In the student neighbourhood of Zografou a new restaurant came relatively recently to turn things around. The owners present it as a mezedo-bar with modern creative Greek cuisine but in fact, it is a restaurant with quite fresh ideas based on Greek tradition and Greek raw materials. In its menu, you find dishes such as peppers stuffed with spetsofai (cooked sausage), chickpeas soup with siglino (salted pork) from Mani and xinomyzithra (traditional cheese) from Naxos, and beef liver accompanied by carrot puree and wine sauce. Also, the restaurant has a lively and happy atmosphere that apart from the excellent food and fast service, will make your dinner unforgettable. Finally, the prices are very good and this makes the place popular with students who live in the area.
Foofootos : Georgiou Papandreou 67-71, 157 73 Zografou – Athens
Koukounari (Κουκουνάρι) : Koukounari (which means pine cone in Greek) with many years of presence in the area of Cholargos no longer needs to prove anything. It is an excellent restaurant in a very well-kept space with a modern character. It offers a bright and pleasant environment with many green plants and large windows overlooking Mesogeion Avenue. The dishes, mainly with meat, are imaginative and with excellent quality ingredients. The savory cheesecake, the turkey burgers with quinoa, as well as the chicken fillet with couscous and figs, are just some of the delicious dishes on its menu. With tasty food and a lively atmosphere combined with good prices, Koukounari is a guarantee for a pleasant evening out.
Koukounari : Mesogeion Avenue 262, 155 62 Cholargos – Athens
O Podilatos (Ο Ποδήλατος) : The neighbourhood of Tavros, although it has some excellent taverns, is not often in the mind of the Athenians for dinner outside the house. Nevertheless, in a quiet square between the working-class apartment buildings in the area, Podilatos makes the difference. This is a small, unpretentious place with excellent food, great prices, and a warm atmosphere. The dishes are generally simple and homemade flavours perfectly executed. The amazing pork with yogurt, the homemade keftedes (meatballs), and the salad with grapes and talagani (traditional cheese served grilled) will satisfy even the most demanding customer. While dining at the tables in the square between the apartment buildings you will feel that you have been invited to a party in the neighbourhood.
O Podilatos : Chrisostomou Smyrnis 26 & Lokridos, 177 78 Tavros – Athens
Pagoni (Παγώνι) : Pagoni (which means peacock in Greek) is a delightful surprise in the bustling Nea Filadelfeia neighbourhood with its dozens of dining areas. It is a neat place with a pleasant decoration where chef Nasos Seferlis creates his version of Greek cuisine with imaginative combinations and excellent quality ingredients. Combinations of flavours such as mastelo (traditional cheese from Chios) with mandarin and basil jam, psaronefri (tenderloin) with sweet potato puree and black currant sauce, or the excellent tart with grilled vegetables and tsalafouti (a soft creamy cheese for spread that is made exclusively from fresh sheep’s milk) are made with familiar ingredients and at the same time challenge your taste. When all these are combined with good prices and excellent service, a perfect culinary experience is guaranteed.
[Photo at the top : tart with tsalafouti from Pagoni]
Pagoni : Tripia 62-64, 143 41 Nea Filadelfia – Athens