The financial wrangling may be continuing in Greece but, for travellers, the situation is clear-cut: go now and you can enjoy both a cheap holiday, and the satisfaction of helping local businesses (and the people who rely on them). With that in mind, here are five great places to eat out fabulously on a budget in Athens.
Through an unassuming arcade in a slightly down-at-heel part of the city, Kriti is a family-run restaurant serving dishes from Crete. Cooked in a tiny kitchen by one Mrs Katchoulis, take your pick from fabulous ribs with red peppercorns and spicy sauce, smoked apaki sausage, feta pie topped with sesame and honey, Dakos salad (a crispy barley rusk base with fiery red tomatoes, galomyzithra cheese, and crettama, a Cretan samphire), fried stuffed olives and plates of creamy, soft cheese from Sitia. A selection of plates to share costs around £10pp.
Veranzerou 5, Kanigos Square (00 30 210 382 6998)
Well-known chef and owner Chryssa Protopapa lost her previous restaurant earlier in the crisis but after saving for several years she has now opened this simple, subtle treasure. Think refined traditional Greek cuisine – country-style knotosouvli (spit-roasted chicken) with roasted pies and fresh tzatziki, and slow-cooked roast beef with smoked eggplants. Nothing costs more than €9. Pictured top is Chryssa Chryssa’s Saganaki feta cheese pie.
4 Artemissiou (00 30 210 341 2515)
For breakfast, head to traditional dairy bar Stani, a diamond in the rough of a semi-abandoned business district in the heart of Athens. Feast on creamy Greek yoghurt (pictured), puddled with honey and scattered with walnuts and ‘flower of the milk’ – the froth that is collected from milk slowly boiled at a low heat – rice pudding and butter with honey. This is one of the few places in the city that Greeks come to sit down and eat breakfast – they usually grab something on the hop – and there are plates of eggs as well as the most magnificent flaky pastry pies of cheese or spinach (or custard, for the sweet-toothed). stani1931.gr
To Mavro Provato
This new Greek mezedes bar offers small plates of traditional dishes with a modern touch. Try kritharoto – a traditional pasta with mushrooms and truffle oil – and lamb, cooked slowly in paper with herbs, onions and Cretan gruyere; salads of katiki domokou cheese – a soft, goat cheese produced in Domokos – and a take on moussaka using a bechamel of minced chicken and spinach. Meaning black sheep, To Mavro Provato, keeps it simple with marble-topped tables, wooden chairs and three courses from £12. tomauroprovato.gr
This stunning restaurant is the lovechild of five of the city’s best chefs who’ve joined forces in the kitchen to produce food they describe as ‘bright and clear without adornments’. The menu changes twice a day, the catch is from the Mediterranean only and everything is made in-house. Food is cooked in a wooden oven and on a charcoal grill and includes the likes of charred octopus or sea bass carpaccio (pictured) and ergolavos dessert – almond biscuit, almond cream and strawberry compote. A three-course lunch costs around £15.
HOW TO DO IT: Flights from the UK to Athens start from around £60 return from various UK airports (easyJet.com). Double rooms at the Hilton cost from £163 (hiltonathens.gr). More info: visitgreece.gr
Words and photographs: Audrey Gillan
FIRST PUBLISHED JULY 2015
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