Halandri: The “Green Gazi”
Halandri local Fokia Kitsou opens her address book to Insider readers and reveals a vibrant suburban oasis in the grip of exciting transformation.
Back in the 1970s, the historic suburb of Halandri was little more than a modest village, best-known for its fulsome laiki and a calm demeanor.
Now, this North-Eastern hub, home to more than 70,000 residents, has a buzzing social scene to rival Gazi, thanks to a succession of new bars, boutiques, cafes and concept shops (not to mention the plentiful public transport connections to the city-centre).
Halandri – which sports the ancient name Phlya (Φλυα) – has an august history to match its bright future. As well as being the birthplace of Euripides, there have also been signs of human habitations from as early as 2.600-2.000 B.C.
‘In the last five years, Halandri has experienced massive growth says graphic design student Fokia Kitsou, who has lived here since childhood.
‘In the mind of many Athenians, Halandri is now something like the new Gazi. The bars are new, but the environment is better and it’s not so crowded.’
It’s true. Halandri has a powerful weapon up its sleeve that ever-popular Gazi does not. The beautiful Rematia river (that starts from Penteli and ends in Tourkovounia) and its surrounding parklands. It’s the reason Halandri was inhabited in the first place. Where else so close to the city-centre can you gorge on high-street fashion staples at Zara and H&M (or at some very charming “indie boutiques”) … then, within easy walking distance, tap into such a soothing green urban oasis, free of cars and fumes?
‘Rematia is a beautiful and really calm place where you can jog, have a picnic, ride your bike or let your dog run around and socialise with other dogs. Or just enjoy the fresh air and the sound of running water only a few kilometers from Athens center.’
Penny Lane Comfort Food
Style inspiration? The Beatles’ Penny Lane and Liverpudlian charm. Food inspiration? Pure American comfort fare: burgers, ribs and pizza with cocktails. Works for us. The mood at this Halandri newcomer (which opened last summer) is cosy, casual and convivial. Penny Lane’s signature element is the open kitchen where you can see your nosh being prepared – and the irresistible BBQ aromas that waft all over the block, calling you to come hither and dine at Penny Lane. No reservations available; first come-first serve. Open Mon-Sun from 11am-1am.
Thoukididou 10, +30 210.680.0217, find them on Facebook.
Ancho Mexican Grill
The street food trend is alive and well in Halandri with this much-loved local hot-spot that combines truly delicious and fresh Mexican street treats with the fun of a Californian burrito bar. Think burritos, tacos, nachos, tortillas, quesadillas, chili con carne – and the obligatory frozen margarita of course! Ancho’s self-service format makes it super easy to try different tastes each time you go. We also love their “point system” that rewards regulars with free dishes. A great spot to break up your Halandri wanderings or as a pre-cocktail bar fuel-up!
Kolokotroni & Gyftopoulou 9, +30 210.680.1097, www.ancho.gr
* Svoura= spinning top
Exactly like a spinning top, everything at this super-cosy cafe changes. In a good way. Like the cocktails, tapas, fresh juices, sandwiches … right down to the decoration, furniture and events. Clearly, this is a place run by people with ideas to burn. Great ideas like concerts, stand-up comedy, parties, photography and paint exhibitions. Built in an old house with ultra-comfy furniture, you can really make yourself at home at Kokkini Svoura. It’s like hanging in your living room with friends or alone reading a good book. In summer, there’s also a great back yard to heighten the chill-out factor. Don’t miss the homemade DIY cookies, where you choose the ingredients and they bake them on the spot. Heaven on a plate.
Ag.Georgiou 17, +30 211.0125.454, www.kokkinisvoura.gr
Let the tunes and décor at this charming rendezvous spot, located just behind Ag. Nikolaos church, transport you to the seductive Paris of “belle époque”. Petite Fleur’s central locale makes it the perfect place to linger at leisure – after a rousing walk or mid-shopping jaunt – with a bio-coffee or a dreamy homemade tart. Non-smokers particularly appreciate the owners’ smoke-free philosophy. The stand-out though is the hot homemade chocolate that comes in many mouth-melting varieties.
Agios Nikolaos Sq. 2, +30 210.681.4825, www.petite-fleur.gr
Anthologia Humana never wanted to be just another small neighbourhood shop. Their goal was always to create instead a gathering place; somewhere you can shop, eat, drink your coffee, read your book. Or just relax with your thoughts. In this, they have absolutely succeeded. Anthologia Humana makes a very welcome addition to the Halandri landscape and just shows that small local businesses with a personal touch can co-exist with the major multinationals. Here in this small blue shop, you’ll find great clothes and shoes, books, small furniture and home decoration. The only criteria, that they be things that “make us smile”. You’ll want to move in, believe us!
Andrea Papandreou 41, +30 210.685.9171, www.anthologiahumana.com
7th Thought boutique-café
In a secret corner of Halandri lies this peaceful concept shop that’s always full of lovely surprises. Downstairs – where it’s yes to pets and no to cigarettes! – you can enjoy great coffee, smoothies, Greek wines or cocktails and snacks from 9am. Then, head upstairs to the second floor where you’ll find a delightful and eclectic collection of Greek designer’s clothes and shoes, each with their own unique style and in perfect harmony with the atmosphere of the café below. 7th Thought is a fantastic spot to discover up and coming Greek designers – and its Sunday brunch (from 12-5pm) ain’t bad either!
Agias Paraskevis 29-31, +30 213.025.8896, find them on Facebook.
Chefi The Restaurant
With their mantra: “People who like to eat are always the best people”, we and Chefi were always going to get along! You’ll find this suburban treasure housed in a beautifully renovated property (with a fab garden), a little away from the main Halandri drag. Lovely atmosphere aside, Chefi really is all about the food. Chef Alexandros Kossivakis creates utterly delicious menus with a fun twist of elements, inspired by international cuisines (such as grilled pork iberico with yogurt tandoori, lentil salad, raisins, pine nuts, light dressing of grilled garlic & sage – it tastes as good as it sounds). Look out also for Chefi’s regular themed evenings with set menus where you can take a memorable taste trip somewhere like Mexico, Italy, Spain.
Perikleous 31, +30 210.681.5774, www.chefi.gr