Sotiris Hainis, co-founder of Spacelab architects, has lived in Psirri since 2003. His loft—previously a workshop that manufactured military uniforms—has picture windows with stunning Acropolis views and a bird’s eye view of the tightly packed tables and 24-hour crowds on Iroon Square. “This neighbourhood is like a village right in the city centre. Everyone says hello; there are still lots of artisans, antique dealers, old-fashioned shops and restaurants that have been in the same family for generations,” says Hainis. “By day, modern makers and designers are reviving the area as the city’s central craft district. At night, it’s full of interesting faces, a mix of tourists and trendy locals. Psirri is messy and lively, a microcosm of Athens that has everything you could imagine squeezed into a few blocks.”
“Psirri is a microcosm of Athens that has everything you could imagine squeezed into a few blocks.”
This artisan ice cream parlour is at one end of Protogenous, a trendy backstreet lined with vintage and skate shops and hipster bars. It doesn’t look like much, but the flavour combinations are amazing and ground-breaking. Go for the tonka bean and almond or a seasonal fruit sorbet. They have vegan options, too.
This is my favourite spot for lunch, or Sunday brunch with a live gypsy jazz band. The design is lovely, with a brass bar and an interesting mishmash of antiques, and the vibe is relaxed and friendly. The crowd is a great mix of locals, actors rehearsing or performing at the theatres nearby, and tourists from the City Circus hostel upstairs. The food is Greek with a twist—grilled courgettes with goat’s cheese and almonds, or kayanas (scrambled eggs with feta, tomatoes and spinach). It’s great value for money, though the interesting wine list can bump up the bill.
I love to bake, so it’s brilliant having all the fresh spice shops of Evripidou Street on my doorstep. It’s Athens’ version of Istanbul’s spice bazaar. I also love browsing at Kotsopoulos, a specialist cook shop for restaurants that’s like an Aladdin’s cave for passionate home cooks like me. Pallados Street is another great source of kitchen paraphernalia, from hand-made olive oil cans to wicker baskets and retsina jugs.
If you’re into making things, Athinas Street is a trove of odd shops selling rope, leather, hardware, screws, and buckles. One of the best is the equestrian shop Mompso, a name that's been around for more than a century (initially at a basement in Psirri). As well as saddles and bridles, you’ll find hand-made riding boots and Chelsea boots. It’s like a Greek-style Hermès!