Literally translating to “New World”, the neighbourhood of Neos Kosmos was historically known to be a symbol of new beginnings and a new home for refugees from Asia Minor who fled Turkish expulsion.
By Gina Lionatos
Still a haven for the modern-day refugee crises (the public housing estate off Syngrou Avenue now inhabits tenants from the Balkans, Asia and the Middle East), in recent years, the area has seen some changes, namely the addition of a cultural centre, theatre, major hotels and a string of celebrated eateries that now make Neos Kosmos an inner-city suburb of intriguing contradictions.
Whether staying at one of the nearby hotels on Syngrou Avenue or in the centre of Athens, a walk through the neighbourhood of Neos Kosmos wouldn’t be complete without these stops.
Stop 1: Coffee and brunch at Naif
Perched on the busy corner of Leontiou and Evridamantos, Naif is one of those great neighbourhood cafes that is loved by locals (and not only). It has a compact interior with minimal, danish-inspired design, yet its real charm is in the sunny table-lined sidewalk that seems to be filled with patrons day and night. There is a varied menu that includes brunch options like baked eggs, tsoureki French toast and yogurt bowls. The food menu is rounded out with sandwiches, salads, burgers and pizza. The coffee is strong and good, and keeps company with a selection of wines, classic cocktails and local beers.
Stop 2: Onassis Stegi Cultural Centre
Even if you’re not looking for the Onassis Cultural Centre, it’s hard to miss. Tim Etchall’s immense neon light installation “All we have” mounted on the outside of the OSCC has become synonymous with the multidisciplinary art space. The Onassis Cultural Centre has a rotating seasonal program of performances, installations and exhibitions that recognise local and international talent. A 10-minute drive from the historic centre of Athens, the OSCC offers a contemporary take on Greek art and culture that rounds out Athens’ cultural offering.
Stop 3: Aperitivo hour at Teras
After dinner, stop by hip hangout spot Teras for an early evening cocktail in the quaint 1930s building or under the impressive fig tree that fills the courtyard. Teras is a multidisciplinary space, with a rotating schedule of events like yoga lessons and pop-up bazaars. The one constant at Teras is the ability to enjoy the musical offerings of local Athenian DJs as you sip on your evening spritz.
Stop 3: Take your pick from these noteworthy dinner options
The dining options in Neos Kosmos are not to be overlooked. In fact, you’d be well-advised to book a table in advance of your planned visit.
Since opening in 2019, Fita restaurant has cemented its place in the Athens dining scene as the go-to for fish and seafood close to the city centre. Featuring locally caught fish and seafood, the menu rotates based on the fisherman’s catch and usually includes Fita’s velvet-like taramosalata and a version of their famed spaghetti with bottarga or clams. The thoughtfully created menu, selection of Greek wines and casual neighbourhood sidewalk-dining make Fita a perfect place to dine on a balmy summer’s evening (or any time of the year, for that matter).
Annie Fine Cooking is a relatively new (and exciting) entry to the Neos Kosmos dining scene. Originally from Mani, chef Stavriani Zervakakou designs a seasonal menu based on her market haul that morning. Here, you can relax at the tables and cushioned armchairs laying on the sidewalk of Menaichmos while you watch the open kitchen in full swing.
Hytra Restaurant sits on the top floor of the Onassis Cultural Centre and has developed a culinary identity based on its fusion of traditional Greek gastronomy expressed in a contemporary manner. With a Michelin star under its belt, Hytra offers two separate menus that co-exist within the same space. Hytra and Hytra Apla share a common theme of local ingredients, presented in both a modern (see: Hytra) and traditional (see: Hytra Apla) way.
Stop 4: Drinks at Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers is the new kid on the block in Neos Kosmos, having just opened in May 2022. Located opposite Naif and around the corner from the Onassis Stegi Cultural Centre, Grasshoppers is a bar where all the details have been seen to and the cocktails are no exception. With friendly bar staff, an excellent offering of bar food built for sharing (try the Vitello Tonnato) and a drinks list that will spark exciting discussion, Grasshoppers is the perfect spot to end (or start) your night in Neos Kosmos.
Main Image Courtesy of One Man