Popular with locals who love to dine out, Lost Athens is one of the restaurants that have served to up Pangratis’ trendy profile.
The menu is separated into four categories: ‘With Hands’, ‘With Fork and Spoon’, ‘With Fork’ and ‘With Spoon’, which immediately reveals the restaurant’s original take on dining. Created to inspire fun, playfulness and experimentation among urbanites who simply want a good time – and great food to go with it, it showcases Greek as well as international street food favourites. Customers are encouraged to try several dishes in the middle to share so they can try as many tastes as possible. Upon arrival you are welcomed with the soup of the day served in a paper cup.
Type of cuisine? Mediterranean-Asian-American fusion.
Type of eatery? Modern, relaxed and hip. Almost everything here is made from scratch using fresh, mainly local but also exotic ingredients.
The low down… Owner Vasilis Stefanakis put it this way: “This is a place that welcomes every style of person, in whatever mood or clothes they may be when they come. The simplicity in decor is deliberate; we are not building expectations of a gourmet, fine-dining experience but in fact, that is what we are delivering; our menu is meant to surprise and delight you.”
Décor/ Ambience? Laidback and buzzy during the weekends. Simple, post-industrial décor by Circus Agency with neon signs such as one that reads ‘Enjoy Your F**ing Dinner’, targeted at today’s high-stress lifestyle and graphic design artworks combined with comfy leather chairs.
Entrees? Try with the Mussels with cucumber salsa, ponzu cucumber and pickled mustard seeds or the Greek Salad with tomato dressing, mousse volaki, carob biscuit and strawberry ice water.
Mains? The Hanger Steak Black Angus with grilled corn, romesco and chilli oil or the Greater Amberjack Sashimi with ponzu, tomato, celery mayonnaise, mango gel, watermelon and radish, or the Stuffed Squid with shrimp, green pea puree and fragrant oil. End with the Chocolate Custard Hazlenut Cake.
Something to drink? Apart from a decent wine list with Greek and foreign wines as well as some good cocktails, Lost serves a large choice (around 55) of craft beers from Greek micro-breweries (‘The Chill Journey’).
Chef says: Chef Kostas Nasiopoulos tells IN+SIGHTS GREECE that he has “taken street-food concepts and combined them with refined cooking techniques and sophisticated as well as feel-good and indulgent ingredients. This is food with no borders – it’s from our souls. We’ve put our hearts into creating it just right.”
Price range? Around 35 to 45 € per person without drinks.
Playgrounds, trampolines and a huge variety of plants, flowers, trees and animals make this a wonderful area to take your children to.
Throughout the year, but especially during the hot summer months, Athens’ National Gardens are a wonderful leafy getaway. Kids can feed the ducks, watch swans, peackocks, parrots, goats and turtles in action, play at the large playground and play among a unique variety of plant, tree and flower species. They can explore the grounds and enjoy a picnic on the grass, playing in a gazebo, looking at ancient ruins and mosaics, crossing bridges over ponds, throwing twigs into running streams and admiring the sundial at the park’s entrance.
The National Gardens were created in 1880 as a commission by Queen Amalia of Greece, and has an impressive array of plants from all over the world. Located between Kolonaki and Pangrati, behind the former Royal Palace (now the House of Parliament), it’s a great place to visit in between stops to other child-friendly areas. There is also a café here if you’d like to stop for a refreshment.
Next to the Gardens is the Zappeion Megaro, the first building to be built in honour of the modern Athens Summer Olympic Games of 1896, where kids can enjoy scootering, running and playing in the large green grounds. Between the Zappeion and the National Gardens is Fokianos Sports Park, a fun and relaxing stopover for children as it has a seated outdoor café area as well as several features to keep children active: a climbing wall, basketball courts and trampolines. There is also a nice café serving child-friendly meals like homemade pizza and club sandwiches as well as adulty-friendly offerings like Aperol Spritz, salads and wines.
While in the area cross over Vas. Konstantinos Ave to see the Panathenaic marble stadium, originally constructed as a racetrack in 330 BC, rebuilt in marble by Emperor Herodes Atticus in 144 BC and renovated fully in 1896 to host the Olympic Games. Once here, visit the museum where all the Olympic torches from past games are housed.
There’s the Asian food district under Syntagma Square, Indian and Pakistani food in Psyrri and many, many other ethnic food places in pockets of the city that have sprouted up in recent years.
Here’s our guide to the ones you definitely shouldn’t miss! NB. In case of lockdown, or if you simply can’t get to these places, all are also available on home delivery apps like E-food and Wolt.
Would you prefer an Indian samosa or, a Mexican chimichanga or burrito, a middle eastern tabbouleh salad or an Asian-style salad with stir-fried veggies and prawns? If you can’t make your mind up– or want a combination of ethnic foods– go to Etnico (Kolokotroni 22, Monastiraki) where there are plenty of options to choose from. There are also a sufficient amount of vegan options on the menu. Migada serves everything from Thai Tom Kha Gai soup to Asian noodles, falafels, Mexican tacos and Indian curries (Praxitelous 8, Monastiraki). Their menu is separated into sections based on explorer’s journeys to different parts of the world and including the ingredients and dishes found there. They also serve a satisfying amount of vegan and vegetarian dishes (including a delicious vegan chocolate cake).
In recent years some of Athens’ Indian restaurants have created the ‘Indian souvlaki’, which makes for a perfect takeaway wrap if you’re not in the mood for the Greek souvlaki because you fancy something more exotic. Mirch (Ermou 109, Thisseio) serves the most popular one of this type, made with a large thin nan bread stuffed with chicken tikka, raita and mixed vegetables and cut in half. Bollywood Masala (Fokionos 4) makes the same chicken tikka souvlaki, as well as an onion bhaji souvlaki and Indian-style kebab souvlaki. Both also serve easy-to-eat-out samosas and poppadoms.
Pak Tika Tak (Menandrou 13, Psyrri) serves spicy kebabs and chicken tikka wraps as well as several vegetarian options like rice with chickpeas or vegetable curry.
For the rare pleasure of trying Pakistani sweets to much along the street or take home, go to Sitara Sweets and Bakery (Menandrou 14, Psyrri). Here you’ll find authentic, homemade traditional desserts like gulab jamun, jalebi and barfi. You can also get a plate of pani puri (crisp fried crepe-like dough balls stuffed with imli pani flavored water, chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas, that’s very hard to find elsewhere in Athens!
At Baba Ganoush (Embedokleous 25-27, Varnava Sq. Pangrati) you’ll find top quality falafel (served with either hummus, yogurt sauce or baba ganoush) but not only. You can also try their middle eastern-style burgers, either in a vegan or vegetarian rendition, with a patty made of quinoa and sweet potato that’s topped with yogurt-harissa sauce, pickles, onion and ketchup. Over the last decade falafels have become one of the staple streetfoods in Athens and although not yet even close to overshadowing the reign of souvlaki, the increasing number of health minded Greeks are opting for crunchy chickpea balls over meat more every day. Falafel Abu Milad (Liosion 1, Omonia) is considered one of the best in town for both vegetarians and meat eaters. It makes well-seasoned falafels that are fried to crunchy perfection and served in a pitta with various seasonings of your choice. Here you’ll also find sandwiches with chicken or lamb kebab with a homemade sauce and chicken on a stick with hummus.
Meanwhile Feyrouz (Karori 23 & Agathonos, Psyrri) serves up delicious lachmajun (thin pita bread slathered with minced meat and sauce but here also in a vegan rendition with zaatar spices and walnuts), a bready pie (peinirli) stuffed with a lentil, chickpea, hummus and aubergine filling and sprinkled with fresh coriander, and even desserts like baklava.
At Sumsum (Solonos 86, Exarcheia) you’ll find Arab street food like mutabal, a pitta bread wrap filled with lamb or beef mince and bana ganoush, or falafel wraps with hummus as well as lachmajun and taouk pitta which is stuffed with chicken, yogurt and herbs. Salads and soups of the day are also available for takeout.
Several quality Thai restaurants have opened in Athens over the last few years, but Tuk Tuk (Veikou 40, Koukaki) is the first street food version of Thai, which is surprising considering that in Thailand it’s the street food that rules! From spicy Papaya Salad with dried prawns and peanuts and Khanom Jeeb Mu steamed Pork Dumplings to Tom Kha Gai coconut milk curry soup and Pad Thai noodles, you’ll find all the street classics here in relatively authentic versions.
An exciting new arrival on the street food scene is Vietnamese Madame Phu Man Chu (Praxitelous 36, Monastiraki) whereyou can order mustard leaf rolls stuffed with prawns, smoked pork and rice noodles, chicken skewers marinated in lemongrass, tomato soup with mussels and fried tofu with sweet chilli sauce. Dao (Agion Anargiron 43, Psyrri)also serves delicious street food and specializes in Banh Mi French baguette sandwiches with a mouthwatering variety of fillings – from BBQ pork or beef to shredded chicken and fried egg. They also serve Pho and wonton soups, spring rolls (both fried and fresh), stir fried rice and noodles.
There isn’t really a Japanese street food place in Athens right now but there are many Japanese restaurants, especially in the Syntagma area, where you can pop in and order food to take out.
TIBETAN – Currently Closed Due to Covid But We’re Letting You Know About it Anyway!
Chomolungma (Karytsi 10, Syntagma) is the one and only Tibetan eatery in Athens right now, and although its menu is still quite small, the food there already has a small following. Try the crunchy cheese balls with tomato chutney, momos (dumplings) with their accompanying sauces like curry, pepper chutney, mango chutney and chili mayonnaise, lotus root chips with matcha tea sauce and tangste salad with pickled coleslaw.
Pink Flamingo (Skoufou2-4) is a dinky, two-storey place with a giant neon pink flamingo at its exterior that serves dimssum, dumplings and particularly delicious bao buns. In cooler months you might find a soup of the day too. At Mr. Pug’s Canteen (Katsoulieri 6, Halandri) the menu is simple yet gratifyingly yummy, with a wide selection of bao buns with different fillings, such as crispy cod, duck, beef burger, pork and dragon air (spiced minced beef, chili, kimchi and fried garlic). Oddly, the dessert is Mexican churros. At Street Wok (Panormou 115) you choose the base of your choice (different types of noodles or rice) and then add your choice of vegetables, meats and condiments like bean sprouts, pineapple, herbs, peanuts. The third and final step is selecting your sauce of choice (hot Szechuan, coconut curry, sweet chilli etc). Simple, fast and tasty.
Grexico (Fokionos 4, Syntagma) serves up freshly made burritos, quesadillas, tacos with dressings and salads. More of a restaurant than street food joint, but with excellent take-out options, is Taqueria Maya (Petraki 10), a self-service place serving a variety of burritos, quesadillas, tacos and salads as well as takeout margaritas.
The only one of its kind so far, Poke (Petraki 7, Syntagma) serves Hawaiian sushi bowls, with a set menu as well as a great array (that changes according to what’s available during each season) of ingredients for a DIY bowl. With rice as the base, you’re free to add any kind of raw or cooked fish, veggies, fruit, herbs and seasonings like sauces, shredded seaweed and spices to create your own Poke concoction.
For freshly made, fluffy and crisp piroshki pies stuffed with minced meat or potato, visit Gadaychuk Mariya (Acharnon 140). Also popular, and with much more variety of homemade piroshki is Kalina Malinka (Solonos & Mavromihali, Exarcheia and on Stadiou 27, Syntagma). Here you’ll find fried or baked piroshki with fillings such as spring onion and egg, beef mince, feta cheese, chicken and mushroom or sausage and gouda cheese, as well as authentic, handmade Russian salad and crunchy tsebourek. And then there are the desserts, like baked fluffy rolls and sugared cinnamon rolls.
Having spent his childhood in Greece, Christopher Nicholas decided to buy a flat in Athens and describes the challenges and the joys.
By Christopher Nicholas
Buying a place in Athens was an easy decision to make. I went to school in a suburb of the city and have been returning ever since, always happy to reconnect with friends on my way to the islands. Most of all I love the ever-evolving array of the city’s cultural and culinary options, and its energy and chaos are the perfect antidotes to my quiet life in Geneva where I live, working for the Red Cross.
You may be wondering why I chose to create my Athens base in an area that could be described as a little sketchy. It’s artistic and edgy, with happening places, but definitely not one of the capital’s most attractive neighbourhoods.
In fact, it largely came down to budget and convenience. I wanted something central and properties in the historical centre or one of the trendier areas like Mets or Pangrati were not in my price range.
Discovering the Charms
However, I have become increasingly enchanted by my new neighbourhood. I’m discovering a community steeped in a rich and fascinating history. “Metaxi” means silk, and the area got its name from a silk factory built here in the 19th century, which put Metaxourgioon the map. It quickly became a bustling working-class community, home to artisans and small business owners, and suffered a severe decline in the 1970s. It’s had several stop-and-start waves of regeneration since and today the working-class spirit lives on, with old community favourites such as Gefstiki Gonia souvlaki place or Akrovatis kafeneion jostling side by side with alternative cafes, and artists’ studios in disused workshops.
I love the look and sounds emanating from the printing workshop downstairs and hope that the old manual 1960’s presses do not end up as accessories in a new hipster café. But if hipster is what you are after go to Platia Avdi with its sprinkling of achingly cool bars and eateries, like Seychelles and Blue Parrot.
Flat-Hunting for Beginners
I first flirted with the idea of buying a place three years ago. I found the best way to get an idea of prices and neighbourhoods was the Spitogatos app, which meant I could shop around from the comfort of my sofa in Switzerland. While friends were swiping left and right in search of their perfect partner, I flicked through Spitogatos compulsively looking for my match. After visiting about a dozen places during short trips over, this one felt right immediately – it was bright and airy, on the top floor, with two bedrooms, a large terrace, on a quiet street and near the metro.
Sealing the Deal
With the seal of approval of two trusted friends, one of whom is an architect, I put in a cheeky offer. Initially, it was turned down. Then we struck a deal. However, the owner stuck close to his asking price. Six weeks later I was back in Athens for a 24-hour whirlwind tour of banks and tax offices. Eventually, with all paperwork duly stamped, I arrived at the solicitor’s office for the final exchange. Note: None of this would have been possible without my brilliant conveyancing lawyer, Alkis, who accompanied me every step of the way. Without him, I would have been lost, and it would have taken a year to do what we achieved in a day.
Not Buying Out
Athens is bursting with wonderful shops, markets, and artisans and there really is no need to set foot in Ikea. I bought local and Greek wherever possible – a good quality bed from MediaStrom, a stylish made-to-order sofa from Fabrica, and curtains from the traditional fabric shops in Aiolou street. I also bought one or two quirky secondhand pieces from Reto, a social enterprise run by people recovering from substance abuse. And one day I hope to be able to splurge at MOFU, a gorgeous vintage design store, in Psyrri.
Always A Catch
People say that buying property in Greece can be complicated, but overall, the process went pretty smoothly. However, there was one small sting in the tail. Despite assurances from the estate agent to the contrary, it turned out that the “Doma” (room) on the roof above my flat was inhabited. Worse still, the tenant had put beds on the roof and was charging 5 Euro a night as a place to wash and rest!
Love Thy Neighbour?
During subsequent visits, I crossed tired workers/roof renters in the elevator and had to put up with noises like scraping furniture above, and wafts of late-night souvlaki dinners blowing down on to my terrace. I work in the humanitarian sector and initially let it go until I discovered that the rogue landlord was unduly profiteering. The actual landlord (of the property above) sent him packing and the space is now rented to a more responsible tenant.
Essentially, I have no regrets and am thrilled to be a homeowner in the city that I love. In this new era where working from home becomes the new norm, I’m hoping to spend more time here. In the long term, I see this as an investment – one that perhaps I can trade-in for a more idyllic spot by the sea when I come to retirement!