Ikastola means school in Basque. Covering the wall on the right as you walk in is a huge green chalkboard, inviting all to have a hand in the décor. Offering well-priced food and drinks in a cozy, unpretentious atmosphere, this laid-back bar evokes public school right down to the wooden furniture. Continue »
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Dear Culinary Backstreets,
I keep hearing about the wonders of Cretan cuisine, but is it really any different from regular Greek cooking? And is there anywhere nice to try it in Athens?
The fashion for Cretan cooking took Athens by storm right before the start of the financial crisis. Nobody knows exactly what brought it on. Continue »
The quiet neighborhood where Makalo is located, right between Syntagma and Plaka, is home to some good restaurants (such as old-fashioned Paradosiako) and even to a strip of ethnic joints located on bustling Apollonos Street. Continue »
Editor’s note: This is the second piece in our series featuring the hidden gems in some of Athens’ most touristy neighborhoods. We previously explored Psyri; it is now time to take on the holy grail of Athenian tourism: Plaka.
There’s a reason why this area of old Athens, just below the Acropolis, is the city’s most touristy neighborhood: it has a history of more than 6,000 years. Continue »
Editor’s note: This is the first piece in a series in which we explore the hidden gems in some of Athens’ most touristy neighborhoods. The streets of Psyri, Plaka, Gazi and other popular areas are full of restaurant signs trying to lure diners in, but which of them are truly worth your time and money? Culinary Backstreets is on the case.
The neighborhood of Psyri is by all means a peculiar Athenian phenomenon. Continue »
There is just something special about Ideal, one of Athens’ oldest restaurants, which recently celebrated 90 years in business. Perhaps it’s the marble and glass Art Nouveau entrance with gold lettering, which makes the venue look right at home next to some of the city’s architectural gems, such as the 1930s-era, New York-influenced Rex Theater, which now houses the National Theater of Greece. Continue »
Mercè Vins is exactly between two worlds, located on the quiet, narrow and dark Carrer d’Amargós, close to the shopping area of Portal de l’Àngel, near the Cathedral and Plaça de Sant Jaume, and on the border between the Barrio Gótico and Born neighborhoods, where there are numerous offices and public institutions, filled with employees looking for a breakfast that goes beyond a sad, ersatz “croissant” or for a lunch that approximates the kind of meal they would get if they were able to sneak back home. Continue »
In business since 1887, Diporto – a defiantly traditional spot in downtown Athens – has no sign and no menu. The staff doesn’t speak a word of English, and you might have to share a table with eccentric old men who look like they stepped out of a folk ballad. You will probably have to mime your order or draw it on the paper tablecloth. But if you ever wondered what it would be like to eat in a working-class Greek taverna circa 1950, read on. Continue »
Everyone knows that Germany and France can both make a mean loaf of bread. But what about Spain? When was the last time you heard someone say something like, “What this meal really needs is some delicious Spanish bread!” You’ve never heard anyone say that and the reason is that the bread in Spain is, with few exceptions, decidedly mediocre, with even the smallest bakeries producing the majority of their “fresh-baked” product using partially baked or frozen dough made in factories using industrial yeasts and preservatives. Continue »
Certain global phenomena, like sushi, the mojito and the sitcom Golden Girls, might have arrived a bit late in Turkey, but as the world scrambles to go local, eat seasonally and connect with traditional culinary roots, Turkey is way ahead of the pack. Gram, chef Didem Şenol’s carefully curated locavore deli in Şişhane, feels perfectly in step with the stripped- down style that chefs from New York to New Zealand are favoring today. Continue »