guide to Athens: eat and drink
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Athens: a Plaka restaurant I love Greek food, I could [nearly] live on Greek salads. That said, the restaurants offer a pretty standard fare, with most menus being very similar. It is easy, however, to eat a different meal every night during your stay. It is also the case that no two restaurants serve identical versions of the same dish.

One of the big pluses Athens has over European and American cities is in vegetarian food. My ex was vegetarian and this is one of the reasons she was happy to return to the city time after time. This is not to say that Athens deliberately caters for vegetarians [although there is at least one excellent vegetarian restaurant, see below], simply that a lot of Greek dishes have no meat in them.

Athens: view from Plaka My ex was a big fan of the various cheese pies, stuffed mushrooms, spinach pie, the use of aubergines [eggplants to the Americans], fried feta and - of course - the different salads. Many of these dishes are actually on the menus as starters, don't worry, they will serve them as main courses if you ask.

On the subject of salads, look out for a Cretan salad, it's served in a 'bread' basket, which you eat along with the salad. Oh yes, although they have the same basic ingredients, no two Greek salads are actually the same - even at the same restaurant.

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On my next visit to Athens I should take a notebook and write own the names of the bars and restaurants that I have visited in the past ten years or more. Sadly, I can remember the names of few. I am also having difficulty differentiating 'bars' and 'restaurants'. Most restaurants will serve just drinks, and most bars have food of some kind. Athens is a great place to sit with a beer [or two] and simply watch the world go by.

A definite bar is that at the top of the Titania hotel [see hotels ]. It has an actual bar - at which I have spent a goodly amount of hours chatting with various colleagues who were out there with me. I remember one Sunday evening 'session' with an Aussie called Geoff. I was on the red-eye the following morning, so had to leave the hotel at four in the morning. With this in mind, I said I would go for a quick beer after work then get an early night. We got there about six, and started chatting - and drinking. Sustained only by the [free] crisps and nuts, we went through 'til two in the morning. I didn't bother going to bed, just went to my room, packed my case and got a taxi to the airport. The Titania also has a restaurant, very nice it is too. In the summer months there are tables both inside and outside for both the bar and restaurant. Did I mention there is a great view of the Acropolis from the Titania's roof?

Athens: Tepina restaurant I have been to many [most?] restaurants in Plaka, but there are a few to which I have returned several times. In the summer, all have outside tables. Not all have much room inside - indeed, many close through the winter months. One that I found on a winter visit became my 'local', visiting at least once on every visit. This is Tepina on Kativikapeas. I was originally drawn by a series of holiday resort posters along one wall. I forget them all, but most were places like Cannes - exotic, alluring places. Yet amongst them all was a poster for 'bracing' Skegness. If you are from the UK, you will know the poster. I grew up not too far from Skegness. It's a great place, but hardly on a par with the places featured on the other posters. It took my interest, so I was drawn back. The Tapina is in a renovated building, so the toilets are excellent [something to consider if you pick a restaurant in an 'old' building]. In summer, there are tables spread deep into the small square opposite it. Whilst it serves excellent food, the management have always been happy to let me sit and drink without eating.

Kativikapeas is a slight hill - uphill and next door to the Tepina is another restaurant, the Kapyatiz. It, too, is an establishment that carries my recommendation. It too has an eating areas that extends into the square oposite.On the subject of tables in streets and squares - it can sometimes be confusing as to which bar or restaurant each table belongs to. The staff do not fight over customers who sit 'on the borders' between two establishments - but a tip is to avoid those tables as service can be a bit slow as you are at the extremes of each staff's area.

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Athens: elia shop The Hermion restaurant is another I like [it's the location for my watching a football match]. It is located in it's own 'square' behing the Tepina [someone once told me thay have the same owners]. Vine covered, and a little more secluded. I've aways had good food there.

One restaurant I tried for the first time on my last visit was the Estia. It is slap bang in the middle of the Plaka restaurant zone, opposite the roof-top cinema. I found that there were a few 'different' dishes on the menu - plus some of my old favourites were just a bit different.

I have never had a bad meal in Plaka, but some are better than others. I really must find out the names of all of the ones I would recommend.

Athens: Monastiraki If you are into 'people watching' [or 'street bitching', as we refer to it in Sunderland] then there is a street in Monastiraki which is the place to be - and be seen - particularly on weekend evenings. I say street, but that is a loose description because one side is open [it overlooks ruins and a railway sneaks through it] and it is simply half a mile or so of narrow roadway with tables and chairs on both sides. Find a table with a view [most have], sit back, sip on a couple of drinks and watch the folk promenade past.

Important note: You will notice that drinking beer is an element of most of my aspects of Athens - please don't associate me with the 'lager lout' culture. Three pints is my limit. When I talk of 'having a beer' at a bar or restaurant I normally mean one 500ml bottle or glass.

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Athens: a bar off the main street On the subject of beer: the prices. If you want to pay top dollar, drink in your hotel. Bargains are in the smaller bars and restaurants off [but not too far] the tourist track. When I was in Athens in July 2010 a 250ml bottle of local beer [Mythos, Alfa] in my hotel was 5 euros. Restaurants usually do 500 ml bottles, expect to pay four to five euros. In a 'street' bar I paid 2.50 for a 500 ml bottle [yes, that's half the price and double the size of that in my hotel]. For international brands add a euro or two. Another tip on drink price is this. Most restaurants will charge around four Euros for an ouzo [you must drink ouzo in Greece] - but a 200ml bottle will be only twice that for around four times as much ouzo.

Just so I don't finish this page on the subject of alcohol - here's an eating tip. It is the norm to order your full meal in one go. I find that if I'm just relaxing and passing the evening away I get a drink and menu first. Then I will order a starter. When it is finished - perhaps another drink - order the next course and so on. I think there are several advantages to this: No rush of food arriving to [a] go cold, or [b] give you indigestion, and so the meal is a more relaxing experience - and no problem with 'your eyes being bigger than your belly' - just order what you want, when you want. It is rare that a restaurant or bar is so full that you are pressured into leaving, and anyway, if you are running up a decent bill, you are not going to get thrown out!

Athens: the best way to see Plaka?
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