Hot restaurants. Cool bars. Hip hotels. They’re the holy trinity of urban culture in any metropolis. Athens continues to up its game with a wave of new arrivals that are adding texture and depth to the city’s offerings. Here are the three newbies that have got us most excited in July:
The Bar – To Lokali
The name holds a clue. The founders of this“good vibes” hangout in Psirri want you to feel like a local, no matter where you hail from. Lokali (aka The Local) has totally reimagined the former Cine Psirri summer cinema on Sarri Street as a new urban hybrid. It’s part Greek tavern, part English pub (or “grub” if you like!). Except with much later closing times. Drop by any time between 10am and 3am to find neighbourhood nostalgics reclaiming this much-loved landmark. Athenians used to gather in the flagstone courtyard to watch French arthouse movies under the stars on creaky director’s chairs. Now they come here to chase down meatballs with twisted gin and tonics and drink Negronis on tap (literally) underneath a bamboo pergola.
44 Sarri, Psirri 105 53; +30 210 325 0673
The Restaurant - Phita
Their last foodie foray was the talk of the town from the moment it opened. Now it appears that Fotis Fotinoglou and Thodoris Kassavetis—the dynamic duo behind the roaringly popular Seychelles in Keramikos–– have struck gourmet gold again. Seychelles fans are happily making the 15-minute metro ride from downtown Athens to their new outpost next to the tramlines in Neos Kosmos. Phita’s spare and simple design lets the food shine (the decor is a modernised take on the Greek coffee shops of old with marble-topped tables spilling out onto a leafy veranda). Don’t go expecting sous vide dishes or flamboyant flourishes though. Phita is all about unflashy Greek soul food. The chefs cook what they fancy based on the freshest market finds every morning, so the menu shapeshifts daily. But think sardines baked in vine leaves and spicy Cretan sausage with bean puree and you’d be on the right track.
1 Ntourm, Neos Kosmos 117 45, +30 211 414 8264
The Hotel – The Alex
Piraeus often gets a bad rap from visitors who see it as just a hectic jump-off point for the Greek islands. But scratch the surface and you’ll find a charming coastal neighbourhood with first-rate seafood restaurants and soothing sea views. With Piraeus welcoming its first boutique hotel this month, you’ve got the perfect excuse to get to know this under-appreciated neighbourhood. The Alex has a prime perch above the winding staircases and neoclassical townhouses on photogenic Kastella Hill, overlooking the luxury yachts and fancy fish restaurants of Mikrolimano harbour. With 34 minimalist rooms and suites, it’s the first city hotel for the Santikos Collection - a family-run Greek hotel chain with stylish properties on the islands of Alonnisos and Skiathos and Pelion on the mainland. Check in for a laid-back antidote to the city beat (take your laptop or book down to the chilled ground-floor bistro, The Botanist), then drift up to the hotel’s glamorous rooftop restaurant, Nest, to watch the Athenian Riviera light up like Tiffany’s at Christmas.
109 Leoforos Alex Papanastasiou, Piraeus 185 33, +30 210 619 6980