Athens and a few islands - really chowish please
Heading off to Greece soon and would love some recs for eating in Athens, Naxos, Santorini and Sifnos. I realize this is asking a lot, but you never know where people have been. What I'm looking for specifically are places that are GOOD as opposed to fancy. I'm not interested in upmarket fusion cooking or hot new Athens chefs. I want the real deal - whatever it is. Any hints?
First off I live in Athens, and have lived here for several years now, as my wife is Greek (I am Italian/American from Philly). I don't believe Athens is losing its cultural food heritage exactly, sure it has changed and many small restuarants in the center have closed because it has become too expensive to maintain, but if you know Athens and where to go, there are still tons of great "traditional" greek places to eat. There are also a lot of "greek fusion" places which are a bit much sometimes, but I do think it is the "changing" culinary evolution as someone else put it.
First, if you are in Athens I would recommend you go to George's in Glyfatha. It is a "typical" Greek meat place that serves some of the best patties (like burgers, but a Greek version), lamb chops, and other grilled meats. There are many of these places in this area, but George's is considered the best, the street it is on eludes me (and driveme.gr), but it is off of Aggelou Metaxa and is bright Orange, so you can't miss it. It is relatively cheap, but very crowded most of the time and you will have to take a taxi to get there.
In the center, there are two places that are very nice that are within walking distance from Syntagma (the center square, depending on where you are staying). The first is called Oikei in Kolonaki, that has great "traditional" greek foods and is moderately priced. It is on Ploutarchou 15 in Kolonaki... The other is in Psyri called Taki 13, which happens to be on Taki street, number 13 (Taki 13, Psyrri, center).
Finally, in Athens if you really want to treat yourself, there is a place called Kupia up on the Mountains in Politia (nothern Suburb). It is relatively expensive but you definitely EAT. They have a set Menu for something like $50 per person and it includes somewhere between 12-18 dishes! You literally roll out of there, but again it would be a taxi ride to the End of Politia square, Kifisia.
In Santorini, there is an amazing restaurant called Vanilia, that is a bit pricy (everything is in Santorini), but located in an old windmill. It has great seafood and Greek dishes, but you will probably need a reservation. It is located in Firostefani and the website is www.vanilia.gr (I don't know the address exactly, but it is on the main walking street).
I have yet to be in Naxos or Sifnos so I can't help you there. However, there are several amazing restaurants in Mykonos I can recommend to Amarie. They are a bit pricy (for Greek standards), but in Santorini and Mykonos in August, everything is unfortunately nowadays. The Sea Satin Market - Caprice, has amazing fish and is in "little Venice", towards the Windmills. There is another great restaurant on Paranga beach called Ahinaioi, which is great for lunch and has amazing fish. Finally, Filippis has great traditional Greek cuisine, and is located in the center and is very famous. You should be able to ask at your hotel, and they will know where it is.
Hopes this helps.
My husband is from Greece and we usually visit every two years. The last trip, last September, was after a longer period - about 4 years - and we were disappointed to see that Greece is losing much of its cultural heritage food wise. Many of our favorite really chowish Greek restaurants are closed. So sad. There are still a few.
IN Athens- Taverna Xinos, 4 Geronta. 8-11 pm. This is one of the oldest Tavernas in Athens located in Plaka. Very traditional and you can sit outside in the courtyard, there is music and very typical Greek food. NO CREDIT CARDS Moderately priced.
Platanos- also in Plaka , 4 Dioyenos. Since 1932- very typical traditional food. Also NO CREDIT CARDS. Moderately priced.
Daphnes- this is a lovely restaurant on the edge of Plaka that we discovered last year. It is very elegant and a little less traditional but has many traditional dishes. It is expensive, but it does take credit cards. I highly recommend this.
Gerofinikas- 10 Pindar, takes credit cards. Moderately priced. A classic restaurant in Athens for many years but somewhat touristy.
My most favorite restaurant in the Athens Area is in Pireus. Dourambeis. It is very expensive but well worth the distance and the cost. It is a fish taverna where most locals go . Wonderful Grilled fish. great salad and for dessert, famous loukoumades (fried dough balls with chopped walnuts and honey). We have been there maybe 20 times over the years and it is always wonderful. You pick your fish and pay by the kilo and they will grill it for you. Very Very expensive and, NO CREDIT CARDS so be sure to bring cash or you will be washing dishes for months. If you take a cab, do not let the driver divert you from this place. The cab drivers get a cut if they can get their passengers to go to another restaurant. They will tell you there is a better place in Pireus. There isn't.
There is a great outdoor cafe at the base of the Acropolis- the name slips my mind but it has been there for years. A real classic. YOu can sit there for hours enjoying te sun, sipping coffee, eating and especially enjoying the Greek pastries.
While not chowish, the two best places to go for a drink at night are the Galaxy Bar at the top of the AThens Hilton and the bar at the top of the Grand Bretagne. The Galaxy is only a bar. The other has a wonderful restaurant but it is continental, not really Greek but very wonderful food and service. Both have a magnificent view of the Acropolis lit up at night. Your can't get better than this.
In Santorini- try to stay away from Fira. Very touristy. The very best place to eat, is in Ia in the port of Ammoudi a steep walk from the road, below the cliffs close to the sea. There are two fish tavernas there that are so wonderful- you sometimes see them take the fish from the fishermen and cook them. Katina and Captain Dimitri's are both excellent. About 50 Euros for two. We usually go there for late lunch and it is a wonderful trip, relaxing and delicious.NO CREDIT CARDS!!!!!
I hope you have a wonderful time and enjoy the beuatiful country of Greece.