The pastry shops of a city are an integral part of its daily life and culture. Buying sweets is part of our social behaviour. We buy them as a gift, as an expression of love, as part of a social habit (during the holiday seasons), or just for personal enjoyment. There are so many pastry shops in Athens that it is impossible to record them and evaluate them all. In this article, we have chosen to present some of the best in our opinion classic pastry shops in the city. And by classics we mean those that have a history of decades, retain to a large extent their vintage atmosphere and with their sweets are constant points of reference in the life of the city. Every visit to these pastry shops revives the memories of childhood as the taste of their sweets remains unchanged.
Afoi Asimakopouloi (Αφοί Ασημακόπουλοι): This historic pastry shop in Athens is a reference point for confectionery in the city and could be the subject of a separate article. It has a history that begins in 1915 as a dairy store and from 1930 onwards continues as a patisserie. These roots are evident in its fine dairy products, made with excellent quality milk. The truth is that we can not single out any of its sweets, as everything is excellent. But if we had to choose, we would choose the galaktoboureko (γαλακτομπούρεκο), the tsoureki (τσουρέκι) and the chocolates. For the lovers of old Athens, the sweets of Asimakopouloi are nostalgic notes during the holiday seasons. (Charilaou Trikoupi 82, Athens)
Mitropolitikon (Μητροπολιτικόν): This particular pastry shop is located in the area of Syntagma Square (Πλατεία Συντάγματος) since the 1930s, the quality of its sweets and the urban air of another era remain unchanged. Its most characteristic dessert is the macaroons (amigdalota/αμυγδαλωτά in Greek) that are made with a traditional recipe from the island of Hydra. In addition, here you will find all the classic sweets such as chocolates, excellent cariocas, and cakes. (Voulis 39, Syntagma)
Lido: This small pastry shop is located at the same point in Pagrati (Παγκράτι) since 1967 and was founded by a Greek family that was expelled from Istanbul. At Christmas and Easter, long lines of loyal customers form outside to buy the famous tsoureki with the strong mastic flavour. The second product people buy here is kifel (croissant-shaped butter cookies with chocolate inside) also with origin from Istanbul. Lido is one of the very few places in Athens to buy authentic sweets from Istanbul of such great quality and variety. (Chremonidou 35, Pagrati)
Petek (Πετέκ): The sweets from this small pastry shop in the afflicted area of Victorias Square (Πλατεία Βικτωρίας) are a pleasant childhood memory from my visits to my aunt’s house who lives in the area. This shop still stands as the last guard of the once glorious urban past of this neighbourhood. All its sweets are excellent, without any effort of modernization, and fill your mouth with rich flavours and unique aromas. The caramel cake is exceptional, as well as the unique seker pare (small syrupy oriental bites with fresh butter). (Tritis Septemvriou 89, Victorias Square)
Mpozas (Μπόζας): The truth is that although this pastry shop is famous to the residents of Kypseli (Κυψέλη), we only recently discovered it during the research for this article. The history of the store begins about fifty years ago and in its simple interior, you will try some of the most delicious classic sweets. Of these, the almond cake (amygdalou/αμυγδάλου in Greek) stands out, with excellent cream, velvety sponge cake, and fresh almonds, but also the very good chocolate cake. Its shop windows are not overflowing with sweets because their philosophy is for the products to always be few and fresh, with guaranteed quality of raw materials. (Kerkyras 39, Kypseli)
Chara (Χαρά): Another legendary pastry shop and ice cream parlour of the city, established in 1969. According to the story the owner came from Smyrna to Athens, after the persecution of 1922 and transferred the recipes for ekmek (εκμέκ) and ice cream to her shoe. Don’t be put off by the appearance of the place or its old-fashioned decoration, Chara is a landmark and a top destination for all those who love ice cream. The most famous dishes here are ekmek with kaimaki (καϊμάκι) ice cream and chicago, an eruption of chocolate, served with whipped cream and grated almond. (Patision 339, Patisia)
Mike (Μικέ): This pastry shop has been standing since 1956 in the same corner of Mavili Square (Πλατεία Μαβίλη) and is a timeless value in the field of pastry making in Athens. Its creations have always been pioneering and it was one of the places that taught the Athenians to look for more modern and refined sweets. The wonderful bavaroise cake but also the excellent millefeuille (one of the first places that presented it to the Athenians), were innovative proposals in their time and still bring to mind all the memories of old Athens. Today the store continues the tradition of good sweets with the same and new recipes, but also the excellent quality of the ingredients. (Soutsou 9, Mavili Square)
Rio: Although Rio is newer than the other pastry shops in the article (since it opened its doors in 1981) it can already be considered a classic. Like most pastry shops in Palaio Faliro (Παλαιό Φάληρο), it was founded by a confectioner with previous experience in Istanbul. Rio is famous for its always fresh baba rum cakes with aromatic syrup, while the store always smells of freshly baked tsoureki, made in the traditional way. In general, all its sweets are of excellent quality and with emphasis on good raw materials. The love for quality can also be seen in the fridge with the excellent ice creams. (Proteos 4, Palaio Faliro)
Koutras (Κούτρας): On one of the main streets of Nea Smyrni (Νέα Σμύρνη), this pastry stop seems stuck in the past. It opened in 1958 and since then few things have changed in the decoration of the place, as well as in the production of its sweets and especially galaktoboureko. The cream has a balanced taste, the syrup has a smooth texture with a light scent of cinnamon, while the phyllo is always crunchy and very tasty. They also make very good ice cream in a variety of flavours. People from every corner of the city come to this small pastry shop mainly to taste its unique galaktoboureko. (Eletheriou Venizelou 165, Nea Smyrni)
Amaryllis (Αμαρυλλίς): Amaryllis with a history of almost fifty years is one of the favourite pastry shops of the inhabitants of Piraeus (Πειραιάς) and remains a classic against the modern shops that have flooded all corners of the city. Its delicious sweets combine traditional recipes such as serano (σεράνο) and “mother-in-law’s tongue” (“η γλώσσα της πεθεράς” / puff pastry with cream, cinnamon, and whipped cream) and fine French recipes. But what this store is famous for outside of Piraeus are its unique birthday cakes in both a variety of flavours and a variety of designs. If you visit Amaryllis the only problem you will have will be that you will not know what to choose first. (Afentouli 8, Piraeus) [Also photo at the top]
So these are our favourite classic pastry shops in Athens. Ten unique sweet stops that in every visit you are overwhelmed by aromas, flavours and memories, constituting constant calming reference points in a city that moves at a frantic pace.