A new wave of creative chefs is rediscovering regional Greek food, with modern spins ranging from pocket-friendly to extravagant.

By Despina Trivolis

Let’s talk about clichés. Greek food clichés in particular, reinforced by compulsive viewing of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where all the protagonists eat spit-roast meat, drink retsina and shout opa every 3 seconds. Or the “typical” tourist taverna meal of moussaka, Greek salad and fried slabs of industrial–looking cheese.
 
This image only tells part of the story. It has a lot to do with Greek restaurants abroad up until the 90s—mainly low-budget diners or tavernas—and how Greek dishes were “interpreted” to accommodate the first wave of mass tourism in Greece in the 1980s. Luckily though, a new generation of chefs has begun to explore the true potential of seasonal and regional ingredients to create a contemporary Greek cuisine that is fresh and playful. The cheeses and rusks of Crete, olive oil from the Peloponnese, and beans and cold cuts from Northern Greece are finally getting the role they deserve in the Greek culinary landscape.
 
Below are some of our favourite spots to sample the new wave of creative Greek cooking.

Affordable

Cherchez La Femme (Σερσέ λα φαμ)

  1. 46 Mitropoleos, Historic Centre, 105 63
  2. +30 210 322 2020
  3. Facebook

This restaurant makes us want to redecorate our apartments ASAP.

Courtesy: Cherchez La Femme

This dish is the definition of Greek comfort food.

Photo: Eleni Veziri

Melilotos

  1. 19 Kalamiotou, Historic Centre, 105 60
  2. +30 210 322 2458
  3. Website

Mid-range

Athiri

  1. 15 Plataion, Keramikos, 104 35
  2. +30 210 346 2983
  3. Website

We're loving this pretty and cosy indoor space.

Courtesy: Athiri

Eat your way through Mani right from your seat in Athens.

Courtesy: Mani Mani

Mani Mani

  1. 10 Falirou, Koukaki, 117 42
  2. +30 210 921 8180
  3. Website

Expensive

Vezené

  1. 11 Vrasida, Ilissia, 161 21
  2. +30 210 723 2002
  3. Website

A gorgeous slab of meat at Vezene.

Courtesy: Vezené