Dreaming of a holiday in Greece? Greek-born writer and chef Ela Mittas (pictured) won some rusted-on fans when she hosted a rotating summer menu of Greek feasts at Gertrude St Enoteca, drawing inspiration from her summers by the Aegean Sea. Called Ela, the pop up included Enoteca’s talented chef Brigitte Hafner, along with the legendary Tansy Good.
But if you’re heading to the Greek Isles, here are Ela’s five favourite places to eat in the nation’s capital, Athens. Opa!
- 38 Benaki Emmanouil, Athens, Greece 10678
- This is one of my favourite spots to sit in summer, under the vine leaves out the front of Ouzeri Lesvos. As hinted at by the name, the food here comes from the island of Lesvos, which is very close to the Aegean coast of Turkey. Great, simple seafood here, with lots of ouzo to wash it down (Lesvos is famous for its ouzo production). Try a cheese called ladotyri. It’s a cheese specially from the island that is preserved in olive oil.
- Xatzigianni Mexi 2A, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0723 5005
- Cookoovaya is a fine dining restaurant, but it retains all the comforts of a taverna. They do contemporary versions of traditional Greek dishes and use the best greek produce. Their menu is broken down into sections by cooking method. The wood fire oven handles all your traditional pies, while the charcoal grill produces perfect fish. It’s a great place to be shown a broad range of Greek food but with great execution.
- 45-47 Voulis St, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0322 9374
- Oinoscent is a great little wine bar with a Greek-focused wine list. I always sit at the bar when I come here because the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. There’s good bar food too. I had a peach and buffalo mozzarella salad last time I was in town. It came with a side of barley rusks that were drenched in olive oil and sprinkled with spicy wild oregano – my favourite.
- 49 Kerameikou St, Metaxourgeio, Athina +30 21 1183 4789
- The big outdoor area at Seychelles is always lively. Make sure if you book if you want to visit on the weekend because it fills up. They serve contemporary Greek food, without losing all of it’s comforting factors. Interesting ingredients include lots of wild greens. Ask what greens they’ve got on special daily. Their horta (greens) are always more interesting than other tavernas.
- 9 Socratous & Theatrou, Theatrou Square, +30 21 0321 1463
- This is an honest workers’ lunch taverna. It’s set up in a basement near Athens’ central food market. Wine barrels line the walls, butcher’s paper lines the tables. The menu is tiny and changes daily and it’s best if you let the wait staff order for you. It’s always cheap and delicious, with dishes like chickpea soup and crusty bread, or lemon doused grilled sardines. But even more important than the food is the atmosphere. Go to Diporto for a real Greek experience.