Artisanal Lounge & Gardens: Set in beautiful gardens, this tastefully decorated bar/restaurant has a sophisticated French vibe that makes it a perfect hangout for a long, relaxed evening. Their seasonal menu is influenced by the South of France and features a vegan celeriac ravioli with a truffle caviar, as well as a very popular Greek salad with a cucumber “granita”. Dishes here are inventive and like the setting, stunning. Head here for a certain “je ne sais quois” with a bohemian flair.
Buba: Another oasis, this time Oriental, Buba is nestled in an old-world townhouse, disguised as a Bangkok supper club. It has a beautiful courtyard space for eating with a pan-Asian inspired décor. The kitchen is busy: broths are steaming, stir-fries are sizzling, noodles are being prepared by Bangladeshi chefs for an Asian menu with a Greek twist. Head here for Thai curries and spice-infused cocktails.
Different Beasts: This spot offers modern, healthy food in a stylish all-day setting which feels very millennial. With its mixture of up-cycled furniture and old bricks, the setting is very Clerkenwell (think, Ask for Janice which similarly has a bar focusing on G&Ts) and like so many current on-trend cafes, indoor plants create an urban jungle vibe. Their speciality are their pancakes. Also popular is their signature vegan Buddha Bowl, served with homemade falafel, beetroot hummus, alfalfa sprouts, carrot and cabbage, watercress salad, pumpkin seeds, crunchy dukkah and a drizzle of spicy harissa (€13.50). Packed full of flavours and textures, it’s the kind of bowl that you’d keep returning for (or at least, I did!).
Eleas Gi: The walk to Eleas Gi from central Kifissia, ideally in time for sunset, is totally worth it. The view from its al fresco terrace is magnificent, as is the food – whether you choose the menu of “12 flavours”, “24 flavours” or go a la carte. All dishes are prepared with the highest echelon of Greek extra virgin olive oils, which render all salads here are a joy. A particular highlight is the smoked eggplant salad, prepared at the table.
Ésophy: For artisan chocolates with Greek flavours, handmade by two Belgian-trained chocolatiers, Esophy is a must. At their boutique, based in the heart of Kifissia, you can watch the chocolates being made in front of you in the in-shop kitchen. Not only are the chocolates absolutely top quality, but their flavours are inspired by Mediterranean traditions: think olive oil and sea salt, caramelised pistachios from Aegina, and coffee and cardamom. Complementary tastings offered by the friendly owners will help you decide if you’re torn. Their packaging – whether you opt for a box, broken slabs or individual bars – is also exquisite. A perfect gift to bring home.
Freud at Oriental: Attached to the lollipop-coloured Karim Rashid designed Semiramis Hotel, sushi, salads and cocktails are served by the pool (in the summer) in a very ambient, well-lit setting. With a long and varied menu, my favourites are their Mango Salad, with its wonderfully fresh ingredients julienned to perfection, and their Sweet Pumpkin Sushi. Also delicious are their tacos, which can be adapted to be vegetarian/vegan. The very welcoming and friendly Chinese chef (who is from London) is engaging and will make bespoke dishes to suit tastes. It’s worth nabbing a spot at the restaurant bar here. Also not to miss is their fantastically crisp Sakilicious cocktail.
Giacomo: For formal (and pricey) Italian, head here. The price, to some extent, is worth it: the setting is beautiful with fairy-lights in a covered terrace if you want to sit out front; the portions are generous; and the service is warm and welcoming – proper Italian meets Greek style.
Il Salumaio d’Atense: For Italian food in another traditional and beautifully lit trattoria, head here. The pasta isn’t the best I’ve tried but the courtyard fairy-lit setting and authentic deli store attached are worth an evening. The menu features all the classic anti-pasti, carpaccios, daily specials, pastas and risotto dishes including a tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, truffle oil and vinsanto. Although a little dry and not as silky or creamy as you’d hope, the flavours are light yet defined and the service very friendly.
Kastelorizo: For authentic Greek cooking, head here. This was some of the finest Greek mezzes I’ve tried in a relaxed, honest and local setting, probably because of the expert kitchen and the very good ordering of an Athenian friend!
Museum Restaurant: Though you might expect a restaurant attached to a museum to be underwhelming, the setting (and food) at the beautiful Museum Restaurant in the Garden of the Goulandris Natural History Museum will disprove any preconceptions. Its chef, Dimitris Skarmoutsos, is well-known in Greece and is behind a seasonally changing menu. Open every day from early morning to late evening, the garden is an urban oasis and the mushroom, balsamic and fig risotto spot-on, ideally with a glass of Greek white wine.
Nice’n’easy: True to it’s name, this laid-back spot is perfect for a relaxed dinner and casual catch-up with friends. There are so many healthy, vegetarian options on its menu that it’s the kind of spot that you’d return to without hesitation – if only to make your way through to dishes.
Tzitzikas & Mermigkas: This modern taverna seems to be a Greek chain but offers authentic Greek food and deliciously cooked greens – a place to feel full yet virtuous!
Varsos: A proper, old-school, no-frills, no-fuss family run bakery, open since 1892, this spot is unmissable for any visitor to Athens. And as it’s open until 1am most days, you have no excuse for skipping. The venue, which is still in the hands of the Varsos family who originally opened it, is one of the most famous of Athens’ old-style coffeehouses and is one of the few that has kept its traditional charm over the last several decades. With an array of snacks, nuts and deserts to grab and go, it also bakes fresh (vegan) spinach pies on site daily, with the flakiest of pastries and the most generous filling. With its decorative high ceilings and beautiful mosaic floors framed with pink marble, the interior feels nothing less than grand. The huge main room, which buzzes with activity around the clock, is home to a bunch of classic, industrial-sized fridges trademarked with brand names that haven’t been produced for over 50 years. The employees, old-timers themselves who have been working here for ages, are each assigned to a specific section, whether whipped cream, meringues, pastries, tsoureki or cakes. The purchasing system is equally old-fashioned: you tell the person behind the counter what you want, they note the price on a slip of paper, you pay at the cash register and then you are handed your goodies.
Yellow: Located just outside the centre of Kifissia, it’s worth the upwalk here for the Greek “pie” salad with sheets of pastry, Cretan sheet and spinach leaves. The vibe is slightly randomly Peruvian meets Greek – don’t ask why.