Kypseli is an interesting local neighbourhood, with lots of great places to eat. For maore on the area itself see our page on Kypseli the area.
49 Fokionos Negri, Kypseli
In March 2011 we had beetroot salad, tomato and cucumber salad, skordalia (a garlic sauce made with mashed potatoes and garlic) and bekri-meze (a meat stew with a mixture of meats), and red wine for 27 euro. On our most recent visit, in May 2016, prices were pretty much the same.
Mezedomaxies is a lively neighbourhood taverna, with good, typical greek food. It is a very matter of fact local place, with a mix of families, couples and groups eating here.
Like a lot of the tavernas on Forkions Negri, it does a good lunch time trade as well as an evening one, especially on a Sunday. Greek lunch is later than ours, though - it doesn't get started until at least 2pm, and keeps going until 5pm or later.
We came back here several times during the two weeks we were in the area in March 2011, and often try to get here when we're in Athens.
It's one of our favourite places to come, and probably the most approachable of the Kypseli tavernas if you don't speak any Greek.
They have a menu in English, and the staff are very friendly and welcoming. There's always enough going on to make it lively and interesting
You can get a mixture of meze dishes, grilled meat and fish, and a few other dishes. The helpings are generous, and the food tasty. Plus free halva desert if you've room left.
In the summer you can sit outside, with tables along the corner of the pedestrianised street, looking out on to the trees and fountains which run down the centre of Fokionos Negri. The staff are very friendly and helpful, and gave us a big welcome when we returned for a second visit.
They usually play nice rembetika or laiki music, at a reasonable volume. There are 3 TV screens - one for every section of the taverna - but the sound is turned down on these and they don't impose (unless you are likely to get distracted by Arsenal via Barcelona, in which case you might consider it a bonus!)
43 Agias Zonis
In May 2016 a meal for one of chicken souvlaki, salad and wine was 16 euros.
Agias Zonis is a small pedestrianised street which branches off of the left of Fokionos Negri quite close to the bottom. If you are exploring the area it is worth wandering down for its neighbourhood feel: local shops and bars, people sitting out on benches and chatting, and children rushing around on bikes.
Although the Platanos is on Agias Zonis the tables are on the small square at the corner of Agios Zonis and Kallifrona. It's a lively place to sit in summer with a couple of cafes and a meze place also having tables on the square. In May there was a big basketball match on and the cafes were packed with people watching this on big screen TVs. Once the match finished many of them flooded into the restaurant.
The restaurant also has a big inside which makes it a good bet in the winter. It's a no frills sort of place which serves big portions of basic Greek dishes cooked well. The food is mainly grills and salads
On the night I was there the staff were friendly but didn't speak any English. The menu has English translations though and you can simply point if you don't speak Greek.
Strofaldon street between Evias and Skyrou
In March 2011 we had carrot and cabbage salad, horta, chicken souvlaki, pork chop and red wine for 30 euros.
This is a really nice old-fashioned, traditional taverna. It's on a back street in an un-prepossessing looking building, with a large, shabby sign hanging haphazardly above the door. You need some faith to believe that it is still a working taverna, especially if you walk past in the daytime when there are no lights or signs of activity.
Inside it's a different story, opening up into one large room entirerly decorated in bamboo, laid in different patterns along the walls. There are fancy curves and shelves in the walls with a few pictures and a bouzouki, but the most noticable thing is the patterns created by the bamboo.
The food was excellent: simple, fresh ingredients, plentiful and well-cooked.
Despite the fact that this is clearly a very local place, and everyone else in there had probably known each other all their lives, we were made to feel very welcome and not like intruders. We were given menus in Greek, although as it turned out all they had available were grills and salads. The two men who run the place do speak some English and it would have been possible to do the whole thing without knowing any Greek.
When we went, at about 9pm on a cold day in March, there were a couple of elderly men eating quietly at one table, and about 10 slightly younger men grouped around a table as if they were holding a meeting - there seemed to be a lot of discussion of figures. This later degenerated into loud political debate, argument and laughter.
A small old-fashioned TV was showing the football, positioned so the group could watch it, but it was largely being ignored in favour of heated debate.
Oi Nostimis tis Mairis
Platia Agios Giorgiou(where Ithakis, Eptanisiou and Ydras streets all converge) It's on the corner, just past the church, next to a butchers and a cafe called 'To Allontino'.
In March 2011 we had briam (a vegetable casserole of potatos and corgettes); gigantes (butterbeans in a tomato sauce) and boiled corgettes and one beer for 17 euros. Prices in May 206 were similar.
This place does really cheap and tasty food. It has the air of a cafe rather than a restaurant, and seems to beopen all day and all evening. It does a roaring trade in take-aways.
We ate here three times altogether during our two week stay in 2011. This is partly because it was so close to our apartment, but also because the food was really excellent.
It has a more modern feel that a lot of the traditional neighbourhood estiatorios. There are posters and flyers in the window advertising local theatre and events. When we were there one lunch time there were a couple of women eating there alone, which is unusual.
In the winter it has a fairly small inside but as soon as it gets warm tables spread right along the square on the other side of the road.
The best way to find out what they've got on the menu is to go up to the counter and look at the trays of food laid out there. These range from roast chicken with potatoes to pasta with squid or stuffed tomatos and peppers. There's a good selections for vegetarians, and a wide choice of vegetables to have as a salad. You can just point at what you want and they will bring it to your table.
We ate here again one evening, when we had peas cooked with onions, dill and tomatos, pastitsio (a baked meat, pasta and cheese dish), and soutsoukakia (meatballs in a tomato sauce), and wine. It came to 19 euros. Food was delicious, and really big helpings. We were given some halva (semolina pudding) at the end.
When you ask for your bill, Mairia, who runs the place, will come out and ask you what you had, checking it off against the stacked dishes on the table.
Our apartment was very close by, and once we got home we fancied a little more wine, so went back and asked for some to take-out. This was decanted into a plastic bottle for us, and all payment refused.
3 Samothraki. About 3 minutes away from Fokionos Negri. Turn left onto Sikinou pretty much opposite the old market, and Samothraki is two blocks down on your left
In March 2011 we had melizanosalata (aubergine dip), lakanosalata (carrot salad), pork souvlaki and chicken fillet, plus rather more wine than usual, for 50 euros. More expensive than usual but there was a live band.
We walked past this taverna early on a Saturday evening, and saw through the open door that they were setting up for an evening with live music. We thought this would be fun, but know that tavernas like this often don't get going until 10am at the earliest, which is a bit late for us even with our adjusted Greek eating times. We went back at about 9.15pm, and were, as expected, the only people in the place at that early hour.
We confidently anticipated it filling up around us, as this has been our experience in the past, but in fact only another dozen or so people trickled in at around 10pm.
The band were quite good - the bouzouki player in particular - and very enjoyable to listen to, but there just weren't enough people to generate the atmosphere that you need for an evening like this to take off, even though those there were doing their best, dancing and joining in the singing. There was a general feeling of the place having seen better days.
The waiter was very friendly and particularly interested in - and slightly puzzled by - how we had ended up in that particular taverna, possibly hoping we were the start of a tourist influx. He told us that there were now only three tavernas in Kypseli that had live music, and although they were trying hard to keep this one going, it was very difficult.
The food was nothing special, but fine. However as it is more expensive than equally good or better food elsewhere, it is the music that is the draw, and obviously has been a major attraction of this taverna in the past.
Fokionos Negri - about two-thirds of the way up, on the right-hand side, almost opposite Mezedomaxies
In March 2011 we had a horiatiki (greek salad); beetroot salad; long green peppers stuffed with cheese; fava; a cheesy baked potato and wine for 35 euro
This is a mezedhes place that does a lot of fish dishes. We're not big fish eaters, so may not have got the best out of it. The food is similar to that at Mezedomaxies, but we didn't think it was as tasty and didn't have as big a range of dishes (once you rule out fish). Although the fava was very tasty, the beetroots were perculiarly tasteless.
There is a pleasant atmosphere, with a seating area right on the square. This is protected with a plastic canopy in the winter, but in March, despite the heaters, we were a bit chilly. There is a very small inside, but it's cramped and not all that inviting. Thinking about it, I don't remember seeing a TV anywhere, which would make it the only place we've been into so far that is without a TV.
This place was fine, but we weren't that enthusiastic overall, and would definitely recommend Mezedomaxies above it.
70 Fokionos Negri
In March 2011 we had mixed boiled vegetable salad, chicken fillet, and a big plate of grilled red mullet, for 35 euro
This is a little taverna on the right of Fokionos Negri, just up from the Violetta. The food was plentiful, tasty and not expensive. They seem to have quite a big range.
We were given a big plate of apples scattered with cinnamon at the end of the meal.
The atmosphere is quite similar to other places along this stretch, and we had an enjoyable evening here.
Fokionos Negri, close to the Phaidra
In March 2011 we had a large mixed salad of lettuce, pepper, carrot and cucumber with a blue cheese dressing, eastern style (politiki) kebab, and eastern style chicken souvlaki, with red wine for 35 euros.
This is a narrow taverna on the same stretch of Fokionos Negri as the Phaidra. It's got the usual outside tables (surrounded in plastic at this time of year), and a simple, traditional decor. We've been choosing which place to go to on the basis of how many other people were already in there - one day the Phaidra was really popular, and then it was the turn of the Karvouna. It's generally quiet at this time of year, and everyone seems to congregate in one or two places.
The style of food is a bit different here, with a large and complicated menu in Greek and the claim that the food 'is from places in all the world'. The salad we had was large and fresh and the dressing tasty and out of the ordinary for Greece. It was accompanied by a spicy cheese dip, and a selection of bread and bread sticks.
The main courses were slightly spicy, but not really hot. The carbohydrates were a bit overdone with the kebab coming with lots of bread and chips, but there was very nice rice with the souvlaki.
They were doing a busy trade in take-aways throughout the evening - we wondered if this has become more popular in Greece. It's not any cheaper than eating in the taverna (we don't think), so perhaps people are waiting for sunshine and crowds before they eat out.
There were a range of people in the taverna, some just having small souvlakis that looked like ones you get in take-aways, others eating very substantial meals, and one person just having a drink.
There was a relaxed feel to the place, and despite the feeling that it as trying to position itself a little differently, and the food being slightly unusual, the overall atmosphere was very similar to the other places along this stretch of Fokionos Negri. We'd recommend any of them (with the Violetta being our least favourite but still a nice place to spend an evening).
Cafes and bars on Fokionos Negri
In March 2011 we paid between 2 euros 50 cents (unusually cheap, in the Acropolis museum) and 4 euros for coffee. Beer varied from euro 3.50 for a small bottle, to 6 euros for a draft pint. Lemonade was usually around 3 euros.Ouzo wasn't available in some of the posher cafes, and was around 3 to 4 euros a glass when it was.
Drinking in cafes is not cheap in Greece, and it seems to have got pricier every time we visit. Don't expect places out of the centre to be cheaper - the most expensive place we went to for coffee was The Select on the corner of Fokionos Negri and Epatanisiou, and the cheapest place was the Acropolis museum, right in the heart of tourist territory.
Coffee drinking is practically a national occupation in Greece, and cafes are always great places to sit to take in the atmosphere and watch what's going on.
Fokionos Negri is particular good place to enjoy this pasttime!
Morning coffee for Greeks is around 12 noon, when places will start to fill up. On hot summer days cafes will be open until the early hours and very lively.
If you're a beer drinker you'll be frustrated by the 3.5 euro or more price tag on a third of a pint of beer. There are increasingly few cafes where you can get pint bottles, and draft beer, when it's available can also be very expensive.
Drinking coffee is not much cheaper, and this just seems to be the price you pay to sit in a nice cafe. On the up side, no one will question your right to sit there for as long as you like, many hours after you've finished your expensive coffee.
On Fokionos Negri there are loads of cafes. We ended up mainly going to the following ones of these.
The Veggara is on the left of Fokionos Negri as you go up, quite near the bottom. It looks a bit like a chain - which it might be - but we liked the atmosphere here. It also does draft Amstel for 4 euros, which was the other draw.
The Foibus, just up from the Veggara, looks a bit french in style (something about the chairs) and the general atmosphere is a bit arty. Lots of posters advertising music and theatre. It's quite small, a pleasant place to go with a slightly different atmosphere to anything else around.
The Happening is on you right as you go up Fokionos Negri, just above the old vegetable market (now a community centre). It's a friendly, unpretentious place with chatty and welcoming staff. It does pint bottles of Amstel for 3.50 euros.
It has an older clientele and is generally fairly quiet. It's also a big spot for watching sport, with a mega-screen they roll down which takes up all of one side of the canopy. So it's full and lound when there are football or basketball matches on, and best avoided at those times unless you want to watch yourself.
The Select, on the corner of Fokionos Negri and Epatanisiou is large, comfortable and seems to be lively at all times of day. It's got a big inside. It's the most expensive of all the cafes we went into, but if you want to spend some time people watching and taking in the atmosphere then this is a good place.