Nikis Street: A World of Food at your Feet
Can’t decide between Japanese street food, Indian or Brazilian. Or Gourmet Greek, Vegetarian or Bronx Burgers? Nikis Street is a world of food at your feet, discovers Caroline Olsen.
A decade ago, Thissio’s Nikis Street was a non-descript hub for tourism offices. Now, it’s one of the capital’s most cosmopolitan and international enclaves – and a heaven for foodies of every persuasion.
Nikis Street is a rapidly evolving avenue nestled in the heart of the scenic Thisseon area, a short walk from Syntagma or the Acropolis. Packed with fashionable new eateries and interesting boutiques, you could easily eat at a different place every day for a fortnight! Best of all, Nikis Street is just far away from the well-trodden tourist track to retain a wonderfully cosy, neighbourhood vibe.
Start your taste journey at 2 Mazi (48 Nikis, +30 210.322.2839, 2mazi.gr), a highly-rated gourmet Greek restaurant. The famous young Greek chefs, Giannis Baxevanis and Ilias Gorgos, have collaborated to create a menu inspired by traditional Cretan herbs and novel ingredients. For €45 per person, you can indulge in a tasting menu of the best dishes. The leafy outdoor patio draws tourists and locals alike for drinks and dinner on many a warm night.
Explore Gourmet Athens’ multi-tasking prowess at 333 & Chef’s Workshop restaurant (at 33 Nikis, +30 210.331.1436), a chilled all-day hang for delicious “fusion cuisine” delights built on seasonality under the helm of head chef Nikos Mikropoulos and his team of five accomplished chefs. Wake up to the day with exotic indigenous coffee blends from Ethiopia or Costa Rica and a New Orleans beignet; brunch on pancakes or a ripper of a steak sandwich; while Happy Hour may see you imbibe on a cool cocktail enlivened with Grandma’s Jams from Ikaria.
Continuing along Nikis, a collection of organic, vegan, and free trade shops, restaurants, and a yoga studio have created a sanctuary for like-minded Athenians. Avocado (30 Nikis, +30 210.323.7878, avocadoathens.com), a vegetarian restaurant that opened six years ago, is one of the few completely vegetarian restaurants in this city of meat-worshippers. It’s an offspring of the yoga studio across the street, NYSY Studio, who wanted to provide clients with a completely meat free environment. As one of the few places like it in Athens, they’ve developed a hugely loyal clientele, many of whom return for the delicious veggie burgers (€10.50).
Gr-Eatings (30 Nikis, +30 210.322.9078, gr-eatings.gr) is a 95% organic shop that neighbors Avocado. Gr-Eatings, run by brothers Vassilis and George Souvatzoglou that offers a robust selection of Greek products that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, or fair trade. They sell everything from groceries to home goods and cosmetics (you’ll even find Greek-made miso paste!). Their humane product philosophy creates a welcome synergy with regulars of both Avocado and the yoga studio.
At 23 Nikis, New York Sandwich (+30 210.321.6000) brings a hearty slice of the East Coast to grateful American expats with a mouth-watering range of New York deli-style sandwiches that you’ll struggle to score elsewhere in the capital: think Brooklyn bagels with cream cheese and lox, Bronx sandwiches loaded with pastrami, Philly cheese steak… (is it lunch-time yet?!). They also do a mean flight of decadent burgers with the works (with most items priced between €6-9).
Wine Story (21 Nikis, +30 210.323.9997, winestory.gr) plies specialty, curated products from Greece. They have a wide selection of organic wines and products. Their customers usually come for the olive oil (starting at €7.50), honey (starting at €6.50), and local wines from Nemea and Mantineia (from €8). Wine Story is also great for specialty gift baskets filled with your favourite local organic Greek products, for around €50.
A little further down, Guapa Paella and Cocktail Bar (17 Nikis, +30 210.325.3994, guapa.gr) offers a taste of Latin cuisine from a Brazilian- Greek chef. Opened three years ago, Guapa has forged ahead as one of the few Brazilian fusion restaurants in Greece. Especially popular with tourists in the summer, Guapa is hailed for its moreish paella, which is served at €9 per person.
For a taste of some rare locally brewed beers, Athens Beer (20 Nikis, +30 210.321.0790, athensbeer.gr) is a microbrewery and restaurant that arrived two years ago. They have a selection of 85 different beers from all over the world and 35 different Greek beers at around €5 each. The menu mainly consists of Greek fusion fare and tasty appetizers such as Greek sausage and spring rolls – the perfect accompaniment to your beer explorations.
Koi (15 Nikis, +30 210.321.1099) is a hugely popular, street food-priced sushi restaurant run by traditional Japanese chefs. They offer a sit down restaurant, a bar with a conveyer belt of freshly made sushi to pick from, and a take-out and delivery stand across the street. Most frequently ordered are the maki, California, spicy shrimp, and spicy crab rolls, starting at €2. And just a couple doors down, continuing with the Asian trend, is Babaji Indian Food (11 Nikis, +30 210.325.4841). The restaurant serves up both traditional Indian and Indian fusion with dishes like Indian souvlaki.