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Weekend guide to Athens: where to eat and drink

From artisan cocktails to the locals' favourite souvlaki and so much more: here are eight reasons why the Greek capital is the perfect weekend get-away. Written by Christiana Thomaidi, food editor and consultant who writes for culinarybackstreets.com.

Pastry shop Afoi Asimakopouloi (Charilaou Trikoupi 82, asimakopouloi.com) opened in 1915 and was operating as a dairy bar until 1950. Today it still uses its own milk and butter to make wonderful creams, scented tsoureki (brioche), galaktompoureko, truffles and eclairs (from €2.50 each). It also sells some of the best ice cream in town.

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At Alatsi (Vrasida 13, alatsi.gr), Pericles Koskinas brings out the best of his raw ingredients. He’s brilliant with fish and sources ingredients from interesting small producers, such as wild greens from Messinia and eel from Arta. Ask for the Athinaiki salad, €21.50 – made with poached golden grouper, dentex (a fish similar to bream), mayonnaise, potato and carrot.


3 If you are a coffee lover, Taf Coffee (Emmanouil Benaki 7-9, cafetaf.gr), near Omonoia, is the place to head for. Its coffee is purchased directly from certified producers and the baristas are expertly trained. Cappuccino from €2.40.

Close to Syntagma Square, the Wine Booth (Fokionos 12, facebook.com/WineBooth) has a timeless feel, with jazz and swing on the playlist, a cosy atmosphere and over 100 wines to choose from, most of them from Greek producers. Go for a glass of fresh Begleri (from €4). 


The Gin Joint (Christou Lada 1, theginjoint.gr) is one of the hottest cocktail bars in Athens and with good reason. Its cocktail list offers a range of finessed classics as well as some imaginative signatures. Everything is made in-house, including homemade bitters. The aged negroni, €11, is definitely one to try. 


6 On the shelves of Pantopoleion tis Mesogeiakis Diatrofis (Sofokleous 1, 00 30 210 323 4612), you will find over 2,000 items from 200 Greek producers. Look out for extraordinary olive oils, rare condiments and a selection of traditional pastas from across the country.


Kriti (Veranzerou 5, +30 210 382 6998), a taverna specialising in authentic Cretan food, is hidden in an arcade off Kanigos Square. There’s no menu, but typical dishes include traditional apaki (smoked Cretan pork) and pita sfakiani (a fried pastry filled with mizithra cheese). If it’s on the list, a must-try meze is mushrooms with staka, the local butter (€6.20).


Explore the secret food spots of downtown Athens by joining a group Culinary Walk (culinarybackstreets.com). Lasting around six hours and including all food, the tours typically take in an old dairy bar, a hidden loukoumades joint and the locals’ favourite souvlaki. (€100pp)


photographs: johanna huber/sime/4corners, doug pearson/awl-images


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