Posts Tagged ‘Athens restaurants’

Mamacas Taverna exterior

The vast majority of restaurants in Athens seem to be tavernas, the Greek version of the bistro. Of course, like bistros, not all tavernas are born equal. Some are fancy and expensive, and others are almost-literally holes in the wall. And you can count on Jon and me to have tried a range of them.I liked the divey places best, mostly because you can count on the same basic dishes at all tavernas (pita, tzatziki, Greek salad, grilled fish, fava bean in some shape or form), and overall, I didn’t see a big difference in the quality of food at cheapo places verus expensive ones.

We had dinner one night at a trendy taverna in the Gazi district (which is where Chelsea meets Adams Morgan) called Mamacas. The place is no secret, having both a New York Times and Times of London writeup to its name. I loved the all-white decor and fairy lights, and the service was friendly and helpful despite its trendiness.food at Mamacas taverna

And guess what we ate at Mamacas? From left to right: fava bean puree, grilled flatbreads, and Greek salad. The first batch of grilled breads was outstanding – hot from the oven – but the second batch took half an hour to arrive at our table and was cold and stale. And at 3.60 euros per basket, it cost at least two times more than what it does at regular tavernas. (more…)

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Crayfish in tomato broth at Varoulko restaurant, Athens

There are three restaurants in Athens with a Michelin star, and based on my reading, only one of them, Varoulko, sounded like it served Greek food – or at least non-French food. So that’s where Jon and I headed one night.

Three things we learned from eating at Varoulko:

1. Greeks eat late. Not Spanish late, but late such that nobody shows up at a restaurant until 10 pm, at earliest, so don’t be the losers (us) who show up at 9:30 pm wondering why the restaurant is totally empty.

2. Tip is included in menu prices (though you should add a little extra if you’re happy with service). Don’t be the clueless, seemingly-deep-pocketed tourists (us) and assume you’re still supposed to add a 15-20% tip.

3. At Varoulko, there’s no physical menu, but it turns out you’re still ordering a la carte. Basically, you’re at a restaurant where everything offered verbally by your waiter is the special of the day, and you won’t know how much anything costs unless you ask. Having never encountered this system before at a restaurant (and we’ve eaten our share of meals out), Jon and I assumed that in the absence of any menu, we were working on a prix fixe tasting menu basis. So when our waiter described a soup and four other courses, Jon and I imagined small, tasting menu-sized portions. (more…)

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Sesame-covered peanuts in Greece

I love sesame candy, and I love nuts. So imagine my excitement when, walking by the Athens covered market, I spotted sesame-covered peanuts for sale! Eureka! I’ve been munching on these guys all day, and I’m sure I’ll have to pick up another bag before leaving Athens tomorrow evening.

Sesame twists in Greece

I also couldn’t resist snacking on these hot sesame twists sold in front of Monastiraki metro station. They’re sweet, nutty and bready. Think Auntie Anne’s sesame pretzel, but without all the salty, slimy butter product.Thanassis souvlaki

And of course I’ve been eating more souvlaki. While Monastiraki is a rather touristy area, Thanassis souvlaki was packed this afternoon with Greek families out to enjoy a sunny Sunday, so I’m not surprised that the sandwich was worth the long wait in line.

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