Author: Dimitris Dafopoulos, Line

I am not an Athenian, but who is after all?

Although not native to the city, I found myself drawn to its bustling streets and spirited communities early on when I moved here to pursue a career in basketball and to complete my studies in Marketing and Communication at the Athens University of Economics and Business. For the past two decades, I have immersed myself in the city that pulsates with energy, history, and opportunity, and yet I am still trying to figure it out.

Like many before me, Athens became, for me, more than just a city – it became a melting pot of dreams and aspirations, a haven for students seeking knowledge, opportunity, and adventure. Over the years, I’ve witnessed firsthand how this dynamic metropolis transforms restless spirits into catalysts for change, blending tradition with innovation. Away from its center, in other words museums, sightseeing attractions, and tourist preferences, it’s the neighborhoods where these minds found sanctuary and are now redefining the city’s narrative – and, more specifically, its food and beverage trajectory.

In the labyrinthine streets of Neos Kosmos, Exarcheia, Metaxourgeio, and Pagrati,  Athens reveals its soul through a tapestry of flavors, scents, and stories. From vibrant coffee places to modern-classic culinary havens: These neighborhoods overflow with creativity, drawing well informed travelers and locals alike into their embrace. Here are six spots that epitomize this dynamic “going out” scene of Athens:


Right next to the contemporary arts and culture center of Onassis Stegi lies my favorite go-to, all-day café: Naif. Founded by Petros Zisou, a native of Larissa, Naif is located in the up-and-coming Neos Kosmos neighborhood. Open all day, it serves great coffee, breakfast at any hour, and, in the evening, a selection of wines, cocktails, beers, pasta, and pizza baked in Naif’s Yellow Oven. Join locals and before-work regulars (and their dogs) at the yolk-yellow counter to order the Naif holy trinity: baked eggs, espresso, and carrot cake.


Right next to Kallidromiou Street, home of the most Instagrammable open-air street market of Athens, you can find the meta-bakery Black Salami. It’s impossible to miss as you notice the line of people circling the corner. The counter is full of loaves of bread, focaccias, neo-traditional pies, cakes, and the bakery’s infamous sandwiches. The team behind this Roman-inspired bakery imports a very special flour from Torino, whose story traces back to medieval times. Combined with their slow maturation approach, the flour makes their between-breads concept unrivaled.


Alexandros Gkikopoulos, legendary Greek bartender-turned-florist, along with his better half, Eleni Nikoloulia, journalist and bar critic, are one of the coolest couples in Athens. They recently gave birth to Polyamorous, the new Athenian talk of the town. As residents of Exarcheia, they swear to bring more color to their neighborhood – by bringing flowers, spirits and “toys” in their mix, for all their friends and passers-by.

titanas: Stay for a coffee while traveling back in time

Titanas is a contemporary kafeneion (traditional Greek coffee house) located in Neos Kosmos that lures you into its time-machine, evoking memorabilia of the 1980s. Paying tribute to the space’s original identity, the team kiddingly proposes that the venues’ “titanic” dimensions fulfilled their dream of bringing together Old World charm and plain but not long forgotten offerings such as milk and cereal, loukoumi, and peanut butter and jelly, alongside coffee and basic beverages like beer and tsipouro – one of each.

Seychelles: the tavern, as we know it – but Modern

Returning to the Seychelles tavern in Metaxourgeio feels like coming home. For Fotis Fotinoglou, Kleomenis Zournatzis, and Yiannis Markadakis, Seychelles isn’t just a restaurant – it’s a sanctuary, a cherished part of traditional rural Greek cuisine. Housed in a historic building once home to Otto of Greece’s stables and the legendary Bahamas café, Seychelles has been a landmark since its inception in 2013.

“Our idea is that we draw information from people we have come close to, certainly from our rural origin, and we work on that.”

Fotis Fotinoglou

If they were to put a label on their kitchen, they say it would be a blend of rural and urban cuisine. At a time when the boundaries of what is cooked and where are blurred, rural cuisine has now come to Athens and is transforming itself into the new urban cuisine, modernizing the tavern, as we know it, not through innovating but by remembering … “Our idea is that we draw information from people we have come close to, certainly from our rural origin, and we work on that.” Fotis is from Komotini, Kleomenis is from Karditsa, and Yiannis is half from Mani, half from Crete, and they aim to bring their origins to their dishes, to cook without pretensions but with substance.

ex machina: Sensory Experience unlike anything Athens has to Offer

Rounding off our culinary journey is Ex Machina, a newcomer to Athens’ dining scene and a beacon of creativity. Nestled in Pagrati, this culinary gem pushes the boundaries of fusion cuisine, offering diners a sensory experience unlike anything Athens has to offer. From innovative dishes to curated wine pairings, every moment at Ex Machina is a revelation, a celebration of the artistry and ingenuity that define Adam Kodovas, the chef patron, or the fusion sensei as I like to call him, who is always there to welcome you. Inspired by traditional Greek food, Adam utilizes his Asian influences and Egyptian heritage to construct layers of flavors that feel almost impossible to match – providing by far the most interesting culinary experience anyone can find in the city.

In this city, where history and modernity collide in the narrow streets of its vibrant neighborhoods, I’ve found not just a place to live, but a stage for life’s most captivating dramas to unfold. Athens proves to me every day that it is indeed the people and their dreams that build a city, not just its well-trodden tourist paths or the stones and mortar of its ancient ruins.

Entdecke Mehr

Please verify your age

This site uses cookies. Cookie Policy. I agree to the terms of use, and the privacy policy. This information will not be used for marketing purposes.