A millennia-old humble commodity, bread nowadays comes in so many types and flavours it can satisfy even the most demanding palates. To this day, a visit to any of Athens’ traditional bakeries is a daily practice for every household that wants to break bread over a juicy ladero (slow cooked vegetables in tomato juice and olive oil). But, as new techniques and ingredients became available (and the demand arose), Athens saw a blooming of third-wave bakeries run by a new generation of bakers and pastry chefs, whose knowledge and imagination raised the bar. Join us as we stand in front of their beautifully stocked shelves, trying to decide on what to taste first.
The enfant terrible
That’s what Tromero Paidi translates into; the enfant terrible. French finesse is this establishment’s mission since it was opened in spring of 2020 by two friends who bonded over sourdough. Against the hardships of the pandemic and inspired by the French patisserie scene, Stefanos Livanios, an ex merchant navy captain, and Christos Pappas, a former business executive, decided to try their luck in buttery bread-making. Luck, however, was not the factor that led to Tromero Paidi’s success; Christos has studied in Ferrandi Paris and has worked under French bread master Thierry Max, while Christos holds a culinary degree from the famous Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
Housed inside a renovated 1926 residence in the area of Ilissia, the store’s all-white decor makes the golden brown breads and colourful pastries pop and call for your attention but also makes it very hard to choose. Tromero Paidi bakes eight different kinds of bread on a daily basis—definitely try the multigrain made from nine different cereals, ideally dipped in some good olive oil and seasoned with coarse salt, a proper meal in itself. On Fridays and Saturdays they dish out their weekend edition breads that are perfect for breakfast and brunch: one with dried fruit and nuts, and one with chocolate and cocoa. If you crave something sweet (and you’re lucky enough that they haven’t sold out) go for their butter or chocolate croissant, their dreamy lemon tart made with fresh lemon juice and covered in white chocolate mousse, or the extra caramel-y caramel eclair.
Black Salami Microbakery
Dough that matters
This microbakery opened in Exarchia in October 2021, just a few steps from the famed Kallidromiou Street farmers market and next to some of the area's finest all-day local hangouts. Following a two-year research and testing period, bread-enthusiast Antonis Kazakos and Greek-Italian master baker Bruno Pezzia set their piccolo, local bakery inside an old woodshop. The moment it opened its doors, Black Salami became an instant hit. They daily bake fresh focaccia, Roman flatbreads and three types of sourdough bread as well as a great variety of delicious Greek pites (pies), like their delicate minced meat pie or their famous tiropita (cheese pie) which takes three days to prepare. All of their recipes are signature ones, and the flour they use is imported from the family-run mills of the Bongiovanni family in Turin, Italy. “We constantly improve on our practices, so even regular customers are often surprised by how our products become more appetising,” says Antonis.
What Black Salami is mostly loved for, however, is its sandwiches. Try either of their versions of a BLT, one with smoked pancetta and one with sausage (both meats come from local producers from Northern Greece), or their mean NY-style pastrami sandwich. Their brunch-on-the-go menu involves popular choices like eggs hollandaise, or poached eggs with smashed avocado served on slices of their own bread, of course. Keep in mind, however, most of them are proper meals in size and, just like their breads, vanish off the shelves come midtime.
Honest bread full of taste
Don’t let the five minute uphill walk towards KORA in posh Kolonaki put you off. This very popular specialty bakery at the foot of Lycabettus Hill has the goods to reward your effort. Kora’s (that’s Greek for “bread crust") playful bright white and yellow facade welcomes visitors to what appears to be a small, hip space. However, a 200 sqm laboratory space is housed in the two-storey building, where owners Ianthi Michalaki and Maria Alafouzou make everything from scratch. Ianthi’s studies and experience in Swiss, French, and Danish pastry-making and Maria’s background in media and management have made Kora a success story, as goods fly off the shelves on a daily basis, sometimes selling out way before noon.
“Our goal is to offer consistently good bread, made in the best way possible,” says Ianthi, who ferments their daily sourdough bread overnight, making it easier to digest—it comes in classic, rye, wholegrain, oat, and chocolate (yup, chocolate!) All of their viennoiserie goes through a 72 hour process with extended periods of cold fermentation, and includes epic croissants, mouth-watering pain au chocolat, cardamom buns and more. Amongst their desserts you’ll find a heavenly lemon meringue tart and a vanilla bean cheesecake, slowly cooked in the oven for an hour and a half.
Elisavet Koulouri’s story is one about finding happiness outside the corporate world and making her bread-making dream come true. Betty’s Bakery, based in Keramikos, is not your ordinary bakery. This farm-to-table, environmentally and socially conscious shop deals exclusively in online deliveries or appointment pickups; the former are made with electrical bikes and vans, the latter can come with a tour of the bakery and a peek behind the curtains on how “real bread” is made. "We want to leave the smallest possible footprint on the environment. We work with a number of NPOs, and take special pride in our longtime collaborations with small, local producers from all over Greece,” says Elizabeth.
Their bread, albeit a tad pricey, can be purchased in a minimum of four pieces and has no added yeast or boosting agents. Here, it’s all about the sourdough, the fermenting process, and the seasonal ingredients. “Bread is a living organism, you have to feed it properly and it returns the fulfilling favour,” Elizabeth adds, as she talks about her team’s mindset. This you can learn more about, as they also host seminars in bread-making. They offer a limited, yet well-rounded variety of breads; white with fresh thyme and olive oil, multigrain with turmeric and boukovo (chilli flakes), carob and walnuts, rye grain and cumin, and their popular Superbread that’s exclusively made from nuts and superfoods (no flour), ideal for an invigorating breakfast.
The baking unicorn
Is it an oven mitt or a unicorn? When asked about their brand’s logo, step-siblings Pericles Stamboglis and Eleni Theodosopoulou simply reply that it’s both—and the unicorn is queer. Monokeros (that’s Greek for unicorn) opened its doors in early 2023, some narrow streets away from the B&E Goulandris Foundation in Pangrati. Though hard to track down, those who have sampled its goods know well to revisit. “Besides the obvious reason of trying to make a living, we both felt a deep need to dedicate our time to something meaningful,” they explain.
Pericles handles the bread part, cooking a great variety of familiar breads, as well as some quirky ones like the patsavouropsomo (loosely translates to raggedy bread), a 100% wholemeal sourdough loaf that is not moulded or shaped in any particular way with a sweet and sour taste, ideal for dipping in stews and sauces. A curry and black sesame bread is also on the catalogue, the kind that you can just eat on its own. Bread here is left to leaven and ripen slowly (between 24 to 48 hours) with the exception of baguettes—these may not be as nutritious as the rest of their products, but it’s the duo’s guilty pleasure.
Eleni, who is on the pastry and dessert side, follows the seasonality of raw materials for her creations. As she sees it, sweets are divided into two categories; those that we ideally have with our coffee (muffins, cookies, cakes of various flavours), and those we crave after a meal. For the latter, enter their lemon and lime tart with the perfect level of sourness. If you’re a fan of “sweetless desserts” you will love it here, as most of their sweets have no or very little sugar. Lastly, if you pop in on a Tuesday or Saturday you’ll get the chance to taste their special walnut and lemon zest bread. Eleni recommends it with butter and apricot jam, while Pericles with kefalograviera (hard table Greek gruyere) cheese. We’d say, go for both.