In July 2020 we posted our article about the search for “the best places for peinirli in Athens”. But our motto is that “the search never ends”, so we have updated our choices and here is our new verdict :
Peinirli or penirli (πεϊνιρλί ή πενιρλί) is a type of long narrow open pie, containing basically cheese, to which various fillings could be added. Its origin is from Turkey, where it is known as “pide”. The word “peinirli” etymologically comes from the Turkish word “peynirli” which means “with cheese”. It is also known as the “pie of the Black Sea” and is a very popular delicacy of Georgian cuisine, in which it is known as “khachapuri”. In Greece, peinirli came along with the intense refugee flows of the 20th century. Its characteristic is its buttery dough (while fresh butter is usually added on top). Although it is one of the most popular street foods in Greece, there are only a few places in Athens where you will taste it in its original form. Our top choices for peinirli in Athens are :
Stamatis (Σταμάτης) : At the center of Athens, if you want to taste freshly baked peinirli, your first choice should be this small workshop on Acadimias Street. The peinirlis are prepared and baked in front of your eyes. The dough is a little bit crispy and extra tasty, while the variety of fillings is quite sufficient. The ham and cheese is a classic choice but also the peinirli with spinach, fresh mushrooms and feta would offer you a more gourmet alternative. They also serve three sweet versions of peinirli which are unique and original. (Akadimias 77, Athens)
Smak : This place is one of these pleasant surprises you could find in downtown Athens. The place is the result of the effort and the will of four friends to make good pizza and peinirli. The difference here is in the dough, which is prepared and seasoned for six days. The peinilri is always baked the moment you order it and there are many tasty combinations to choose from. They also serve excellent pizza. (Romvis 21, Athens)
Feyrouz : Born in Antioch, Turkey, Feyruz brought with her the flavours and aromas of the East and shares them daily generously through her small shop in the centre of Athens. Among the delicious oriental dishes, the freshly baked peinirlis stand out. Here you will find five unique combinations of flavours and ingredients that are enough to satisfy every desire. (Karori 23, Aiolou-Athens)
Dia Heiros To Peinirli (Δια Χειρός To Πεϊνιρλί) : A new arrival in the hip neighbourhood of Koukaki. It offers freshly baked peinirlis in various simple combinations. However, it is the quality of the ingredients that make this store stand out. Two very good options are the peinirli with double cheese or with cheese and minced meat, but you have also the option to create your combination. Although the store is open until 18:00 if you arrive after 17:00, peinirli may be sold out. The store also makes very tasty piroshki. (Dimitrakopoulou 49, Koukaki)
Peinirli Ionias (Πεϊνιρλί Ιωνίας) : For almost twenty years this place serves to the Athenians excellent authentic peinilri from Asia Minor. The shop is dominated by the always burning big wood-fired oven which bakes daily the fourteen different types of peinirli. The dough is not very soft but it is crispy and with a very distinct buttery taste. The quality of the ingredients is always very good and most of the combinations are very tasty. Our favourite here is peinirli with kaseri cheese from Trikala. They also make excellent sandwiches with bread made with the same dough they use for peinirli. (Panormou 3, Ampelokipoi)
Peinirli Frournaki Ionias (Πεϊνιρλί Φουρνάκι Ιωνίας) : Another delicious peinilri, which also originates from Asia Minor, could be found in this traditional workshop in Iraklio, which opened in 1950. The quality of the fresh-baked peinirlis is always high. Here is one of the few places where you could choose your combination, which is baked the moment you order it. Generally, the variety is big and you would have a hard time choosing. However, the peinirli with Armenian soutzouk and cheese is a must. (Plapouta 86, Iraklio)
Peinirli (Πεϊνιρλί) : This unpretentious place, which is actually a dough workshop hidden in the streets of Nea Ionia, is considered by many to make the best peinirli in Athens. Once a common secret among the inhabitants of the nearby areas, it is now a destination for food lovers across town. A sign outside with the word “Peinirli”, a huge oven, a few tables where they prepare the peinirlis and a small showcase with the baked ones make up the whole place. The variety of tastes is limited but every combination is perfect. The dough is soft and tasty until the last bite. You could also buy frozen dough to make your peinirlis and pizzas at home. Our favourite here is peinirli with cheese and minced meat. One peinirli here will never be enough. (Ramnountos 86, Nea Ionia)
G. Eleftheriadis (Γ. Ελευθεριάδης) : For many years G. Eleftheriadis has been synonymous with peinirli for the inhabitants of the Northern Athenian suburbs. With a history that goes back many decades and a catalogue with twenty one different types of peinirli, this place will never let you down if you want to eat a tasty big peinirli. Nowadays the place is a complete restaurant with many dishes apart from peinirli, but most of the people come here only for the classic peinirli. (Kolokotroni 18, Chalandri)
Havelas (Χαβέλας) : In the western suburbs of Athens, this store is synonymous with delicious and quality peinirlis for more than forty years. With excellent quality fresh dough and a satisfactory variety of combinations, such as the very tasty peinirli with cheese, egg, bacon and mushrooms, a visit here is never enough. Peinirlis are baked daily but the quantity is never enough to satisfy all the hungry customers. (Thivon 358, Egaleo & Pelasgias 21, Peristeri)
Barba Stavros (Μπάρμπα Σταύρος) : This place with a sixty-year history is beloved by the inhabitants of Piraeus. The fluffy dough is made with the secret recipe of Savvoulidis family and it is what makes this peinirli unique. Nowadays the grandsons of the first owner continue the tradition and keep taste and quality always the same. The peinirlis are huge and overfilled with fresh ingredients. The combinations are many, but you can also order a peinirli with fillings of your choice. They also serve very good pizza with the same dough. (Eleftheriou Venizelou 72, Drapetsona)
A last-minute addition to this guide for the best peinirli is the relatively new restaurant Sourtouko (Σουρτούκω) in Vyronas (Chrysostomou Smyrnis 47, Vyronas). Among some great dishes, we also tried two wonderful peinirlis with excellent fresh dough, one with sausage and egg and the other with apaki (traditional cold cuts of Crete) made of chicken.
We are sure there are still many places and workshops around the city which make very good peinirli. Also, we have not forgotten traditional peinirli restaurants, like Eleftheriadis (Ελευθεριάδης) and Techlikidis – Pefkakia (Τεχλικίδης – Πευκάκια), both in Drosia, but these two places are known almost to every Athenian and we chose to give you some alternative suggestions on where to eat very good peinirli.
We are always waiting for your suggestions in the comments area because the quest for the best never stops…
*(Photo at the top by ლევან ქოქიაშვილი – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 )