Athens Coffee & Meze Culture

Athens Coffee & Meze Culture

While in Athens it is immediately noticeable that the local cafe culture thriving. Through this directory you will get a chance to visit very different establishments, ranging from "kafenia", to hip, modern coffee shops and get first hand experience of the diversity of contemporary Greek culture.
Food and coffee are favorite local pass-times, and there is no better way in the "real" Athenian life. Cafes in Greece are divided into two basic categories: Cafe-Bars and Cafe-Ouzeris. Cafe Bars, as the name suggests, function as cafes during the day and bars during the night. Cafe-Bars’ popularity climaxed in the 90s, as they offered a more “western” model of entertainment. When first introduced to the Greek culture, the idea of standing and drinking was considered a progressive alternative to the more traditional “sit-down” style which involved eating, drinking and only occasionally getting up to dance. Cafe-Ouzeris are direct descendants of the traditional Kafenia (pl.).Historically a kafenio is a neighborhood or village cafe usually only frequented by the local men. Kafenia offered Greek coffee, traditionally served with a loukoumi (Turkish delight) and local spirits (ouzo, raki, tsipouro, depending on the location) and wines always accompanied by meze platters. The food was vital to the drinking process as it helped to drag out each session and made the whole social experience one of sharing. Modern Cafe-Ouzeris will normally offer a few meze dishes and a small range of spirits and wines, the quality and variety of which will depend on the place.
During the last 10 years, with Greece’s economy taking a well publicized downturn, there has been a shift in entertainment culture. Bars and nightclubs are still popular, but there has been a rediscovery of the kafenio drinking experience. Neo-Kafenia have popped up (and are still popping up as we speak) all around the center, gathering hordes of young people, disillusioned by the overpriced, loud and alienating experience of a club. Neo-Kafenia are created to resemble old-school kafenia, but in reality offer a cleaner, more "refined", customer-conscious service and of course slightly higher prices than a local kafenio (while still remaining a cheap alternative to a taverna or a bar).
Image Courtesy of: Tilemahos Efthimiadis

1. Six Dogs

Six Dogs
Six Dogs is as hot as July in Athens. Right next to Monastiraki station, it has been bustling with constant energy since it opened in 2009. From art and music performances to quiet coffee breaks in the garden and again to busy, bustling nights under the stars by the open-air bar, Six Dogs just keeps going! The space was redesigned by Athens based Point Supreme Architects -the work in the garden is a smart landscape design solution to a relatively small space as they tripled their sitting areas by adding height. Six Dogs is not so much the favorite of the really young crowd anymore, but you will spot a mixed range of Athenians gathering here (ranging from unemployed art students to yuppies). If you are not up for mingling, the seats further up are perfect for people watching.
Where to find it:
Avramiotou 6-8, Athens, 105 51, Greece

Phone: +30 2103210510

Working Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10:30am-03:00am
Fri-Sat: 10:30am-07:00am
Sun: 10:30am-03:00am

2. Cafe "Panellinion"

Cafe "Panellinion"
The neo-kafenio culture is booming and has defined entertainment for young(er) Greeks as they offer cheaper alcohol as well as food and coffee. Old-school cafenia still exist in neighborhoods all over Athens but one has to really go looking to find one that has survived inflation in the city center. Cafe Panellinion is a proud exception. It has remained in the same spot for decades, hosting chess games and offering "Greek" coffee, soft drinks, beer as well as ouzo and tsipouro. As for meze, all you have to do is name the amount of money you want to spend and they will prepare your meze platter accordingly! Decorated with pictures of chess champions, this is a gathering place for local chess enthusiasts. If you are a fan of chess I would urge you to challenge one of the regulars, it's more fun that way. Keep in mind that Cafe Panellinion is a popular place to watch football and is often crowded on game nights. A must-see! metro: Panepistimio
Where to find it:
Mavromichali 16, Exarchia, Athens, Greece

Phone: +30 2103634492

Working Hours:
Mon-Fri: 07:00am-01:00am
Sat: 07:00am-03:00am

3. Kimolia Art Cafe

Kimolia Art Cafe
Kimolia Art Cafe is housed in a beautifully restored 1925 building, in the quiet side of Plaka. It is the brain child of three artist friends who have gone the extra mile with the decoration of this charming cafe. Kimolia Art Cafe hosts exhibitions of painting, jewlery and craft, live music (funk, jazz, blues and more) and book readings. The menu offers coffees and teas (including organic options), a wide range of wines, cocktails, beers, local spirits, salads, sandwiches and deserts -all made by the people working there. If you are unemployed or a student bring your card and the coffee will be €2 (the regular price is around €3). wifi metro: Sintagma
Where to find it:
Iperidou 5, Plaka, Athens, 10558, Greece

Working Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10:00-01:00
Fri-Sat: 10:00-03:00
Sun: 11:00-01:00

http://www.kimolia-art-cafe.gr

4. Booze Cooperativa

Booze Cooperativa
Booze was the first of the “multi-spaces” that opened in Athens, in 1989 and is since regarded as the most innovative of its kind. It takes up all three floors of a neoclassical building nearby Monastiraki station and offers a more than impressive range of places to sit, things to see, people to talk to. There is an art gallery in the loft, two separate bars on the ground floor, a sitting area outside, a communal bench in an arcade, a separate book reading area (the "Etage Litteraire"), a restaurant and more! At Booze they love art, movies, chess, music, people and even yoga sometimes in the mornings. If you are interested in architecture, this neoclassical building is well worth exploring –and you never know who you are going to meet in the process! Metro: Monastiraki wifi
Where to find it:
Kolokotroni 57, Athens, 10560, Greece

Phone: +30 2103240944

Working hours:
Mon-Sun: 11:00am - late

http://www.boozecooperativa.com

5. Bartesera

Bartesera
Bartesera is housed in a small Arcade on Kolokotroni Str. They offer great coffee, alcoholic beverages and quick, delicious bites. One can seek refuge here from both sun and rain, as the arcade offers a perfect combination of indoors and outdoors space. Unlike a lot of arcades that feel claustrophobic, Bartesera combines an amazing sense of space (due to its high ceiling) with a cosy, relaxed atmosphere. There is always art exhibitions on the walls and they often host events. For more information you can visit their website. Metro: Sintagma, Monastiraki wifi
Where to find it:
Kolokotroni 25, Athens, 10562, Greece

Phone: +30 2103229805

Working Hours:
Mon-Wed: 10:00am-02:00am
Thu: 10:00am-03:00am
Fri-Sat: 10:00am-04:30am
Sun: 06:00pm-02:00am

6. Dexameni

Dexameni
Dexameni (meaning “water tank”) takes its name from Dexameni Square, where it is situated at. A large water tank, now defunct, can be seen from the top of the square. This classic cafe is an historical part of the city and a great example of Athenian neighborhood culture. Generations of writers, journalists, politicians and artists have sat at Dexameni’s tables. This is the place were Papadiamantis, Kazatzakis, Souris and other Greek writers gathered in the beginning of the 20th century. Today you will spot locals (famous or not) drinking ouzo, grabbing a quick lunch or slow dinner. Despite being in the up-scale Kolonaki district, Dexameni cafe retains its unpretentious nature (and comparatively very low prices). There is a playground, a historic open-air cinema and an exchange library on the square. It is best to visit Dexameni in the evenings or weekends when the locals are out. Also take a moment to absorb the view of the Parthenon on the top of the first set of stairs. This is a must, must, must see place, a true gem.
Where to find it:
Platia Dexamenis, Athens, 106 73, Greece

Working Hours:
09:00am-12:00am

7. Braziliana

Braziliana
Nestled right in the heart of recently rediscovered Petralona neighborhood, Braziliana is favorite spot of hip, alternative Athenians. Do you fancy coffee in the morning, a beer and a quick bite in the afternoon, dinner and wine in the evening and cocktails afterwards? Well search no more, this is the place for you. Braziliana does it all and does it well. The space is maxed-out in color, soul & funk. You will see locals at all hours here, playing jenga or fuse ball during the quieter hours or chatting and drinking later on at night. Rarely seen empty, Braziliana is a great example of the relaxed-yet-up-beat bar culture of Athens. It also offers a good opportunity to acquaint yourself with the mostly residential neighborhood of Petralona. Train: Petralona wifi
Where to find it:
Arkadon 4, Ano Petralona, Athens, 11852, Greece

Phone: +30 2117108428

Working Hours:
11:00am - late

8. Red Lotus (Κόκκινος Λωτός)

Red Lotus (Κόκκινος Λωτός)
Red Lotus (Kokinos Lotos) is a quirky bar, fashioned in “Eastern-style” pillows, plants, carpets, vases etc. It is very relaxed, atmospheric and, despite what one could expect from the decor, totally unpretentious. The Red Lotus is also the cheapest place for coffee and drink in the city! With coffee costing a maximum of €1,60 and cocktails around €5 this is a favourite spot in this area. The coffees on offer are a laconic and humorous response to the exhaustive coffee drink lists at trendy cafes, here you can order a “hot or cold coffee”, "with or without milk"! Feel free to lie on the pillows or sit on the communal table outside but remember to order your drink at the bar as you might not get served otherwise!
Where to find it:
Zoodochou Pigis 5, Athens, 10678, Greece

Phone: +30 2103801380

Working Hours:
10:00am - late

9. Exostrefis

Exostrefis
Literaly meaning "outgoing", you will find Exostrefis on Strefi hill -one of the Athenian vantage points least frequented by tourists. Located north of alternative Exarchia district and up a couple of long flights of stairs, Strefi hill offers romantic views of the cityscape and a quiet place to walk around. Exostrefis cafe is a good resting point after the ascent as well as a lively meeting point for locals. During the daytime it offers peace and quiet among the trees (rare for Athens) while in the evening it is crowded with 20-30 somethings drinking ouzo with meze accompanied by live bands playing rebetiko music most of the weekends. The food and drinks on offer are standard but the atmosphere will reward you.
Where to find it:
Strefis Hill, Anexartisias, Athens, 10681, Greece

Phone: +30 6948572402

Working Hours:
Mon-Sun: 04:00pm-03:00am
Only open from April to October

10. Cusco

Cusco
Cusco is located in Exarchia district, in a pedestrian street full of places to sit. It is a good example of student cafes in the area. Regular quality, price and service. Great place to watch people, talk to people, draw people, get annoyed at people, share things with people, only make sure you ask people before taking their picture -people might be funny about that in this area! Take a moment to see the plaque in the middle of the pedestrian street, devoted to young Alexandros whose death sparked riots across Greece in 2008.
Where to find it:
Koletti 8, Athens, 106 81, Greece

Phone: +30 2103825551

Working Hours:
Mon-Thu: 09:00-02:00
Fri-Sun: 09:00-late

11. Ypovrichio

Ypovrichio
Ypovrichio (“Submarine” in Greek -hence the submarine on the sign) despite being a few minutes away from the noise and havoc of popular Gazi clubbing district, offers a laid-back, neighborhood experience. With its mosaic floor, simple wooden tables, woven seat chairs and rather relaxed service, Ypovrichio really feels like stepping into a time machine. It is quiet in the mornings but often gets crowded in the evenings. If it’s a nice day, you will love the tables on the square across the street. Apart from coffee, ouzo, raki and tsipouro there are usually no more than 6-7 delicious meze dishes on the menu, all cooked in-front of you. metro: keramikos
Where to find it:
Stratonikis 19, Athens, 118 54, Greece

12. Tailor Made

Tailor Made
Located in Agia Irene square, near Monastiraki, Tailor Made is a temple devoted to the gods of coffee. All coffee served is roasted that day, in the in-house micro Roastery and all staff members are actual coffee experts, counting a few participations in international barista competitions. Anyone in the store will be able to assist you in choosing the right coffee blend for your palette and will be happy to inform you on just about every part of the process the beans went through before getting to your cup (down to the altitude and humidity levels they were grown in). Apart from the excellent coffees on offer, you can go for a tailor made cocktail or a homemade desert (a lot of them with a coffee twist). In Tailor Made they pride themselves in carefully choosing everything they offer, from the tea selection to their state of the art espresso machine, the quality is rare. Tailor Made is usually crowded with the hip, the young and the gorgeous, here you can experience the outwards looking crowds of Athens. Bring a dog and a book for extra kudos.
Where to find it:
Plateia Agias Eirinis 2 @ Monastiraki, Athens, 10560, Greece

Phone: +30 213 0049645

Working Hours:
Mon-Thu: 08:00am–02:00am
Fri-Sat: 08:00am–04:00am
Sun: 09:00am-02:00am

13. The Dark Side of Chocolate

The Dark Side of Chocolate
This petit, adorable shop is located on the cusp between hard-edged Exarchia and up-scale Kolonaki districts, and succeeds in creating a dreamy atmosphere with an edge –the kind of place that feels romantic even if you go by yourself. The owner, a true chocolate artist, prepares the small chocolate treats in his in-house "lab" and fills the space with the delicious smell of roasted cocoa, just like a painter's studio smells of fresh paint. As for the unbeatable (and huge) chocolate drinks, each customer gets a unique combination of ingredients to match their personalities. Imagine Julliette Binoche in Chocolat only Greek and… male! The window seats offer a lazy view of the passers-by and there is a small library if you are there solo. Excellent!
Where to find it:
Solonos 59, Athens, Greece

Phone: +30 6982803418

Working Hours
Mon-Fri: 08:00am-10:00pm
Sat: 10:00am-10:00pm
Sun: Closed

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dark-Side-Of-Chocolate/454338531274067

14. Cantina Social

Cantina Social
Cantina Social only a few years ago replaced an old cafe that catered for the surrounding businesses in the area. Despite making a lot of changes, Cantina Social never made any real effort to advertise itself -not even a sign, it retained the previous owner's "KAΦE BAR" sign- and rose remarkably in popularity relying solely on word of mouth and killer indie tunes. Cantina Social is a fusion of Berlin and New York's arty, urban joints but more laid-back, more... Greek! Here you will find good art, great music and an adorable "garden" in the back which is especially nice on those summer nights. Great place to watch a cult movie and get acquainted with Athens' indie crowd.
Where to find it:
Leokoreiou 6-8, Athens, Greece

Phone: +30 2103251668

Working Hours:
Tue–Sat: 07:30-06:30; 08:00-late

https://www.facebook.com/cantinasocial

15. Kafenio Ivis

Kafenio Ivis
This charming neo-kafenio is very near Monastiraki square but is officially included in the otherwise busy area of Psyri. Fortunately it is remote enough, remaining peaceful and somehow hidden despite its central location. Covered almost entirely by an impressive amount of crawling ivy, Kafenio Ivis offers a very pleasant environment. The place is small but in the summer there are a few additional tables on the pavement outside. The menu is tiny and truly exquisite. Every dish is thoughtfully prepared in the tiny kitchen right in front of your eyes. Clean and delicious as the food might be it should be noted that the portions are rather small for their price, especially in comparison to other kafenia. In all honesty however, the food quality surpasses the regular kafenio standards, and in addition to the beautiful location and atmosphere, Kafenio Ivis might just be worth the extra euros.
Where to find it:
Navarchou Apostoli ke Ivis, Psuri, Athens 105 54, Greece

Phone: +30 2103232554

Working Hours:
12:00-02:00

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