Where to Eat in Athens
Here, more recommendations from my recent Greece trip.
* We stayed at the Baby Grand Hotel. I'm not sure I would recommend this hotel to everyone; it definitely had a funky vibe. Large stuffed monkeys hang from branches in the lobby, Mini Coopers replace the check-in desks and many rooms are painted with faux graffiti. What is perfect about it is the location, just a 10-minute walk to the Acropolis and many of the hip and trendy areas worth seeking out. Also located right around the hotel are many markets selling dried fruits, nuts, olives, cheese and sausages. A fun place for any food-obsessed traveler to stroll around.
* A friend who lives in Athens recommended a no-frills restaurant called To Stecki Tou Ilia that sells grilled lamb chops by the kilo. Too bad it was closed on Mondays, our one night in town. Since we were in the mood for grilled meat, the concierge recommended a restaurant in the Gazi neighborhood called Butcher Shop. Just a few years ago, Gazi was an old natural-gas plant, but-like Manhattan's Meatpacking District-it's now full of fun restaurants and bars. The Butcher Shop was like a Greek steakhouse, serving simple Greek meat dishes and sides with house wine poured from a tap. Try the grilled, smoked pork rack (thin slices of smoky and fatty pork, similar to Canadian bacon but by no means lean), grilled pork neck and the star, paidakia or grilled lamb chops. Round out the meal with local boiled greens, tomato and mint salad and a dilly cucumber tzatziki. Finish with a shot of mastiqua, brought to the table in a tiny bottle in a tiny ice bucket, compliments of the restaurant.
* If you are in the Athens airport and looking for a meal, albeit a totally trashy one, search for the counter that sells salami sandwiches on doughnut bread. Wash it down with a lemon Fanta. Also, don't be afraid to try Lay's potato chips in mushroom-and-sour-cream, oregano and Heinz Ketchup flavors.