Category: Bars & Cafes

Athens nightlife: Where to party with the locals

Millenium GAZI club in Athens

Scenes from Millenium GAZI, one of dozens of clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the Karameikos metro station in the buzzing Gazi entertainment district of Athens

 

After dark: Wondering where to find a great party scene while you’re visiting Athens? Check out the article Athens nightlife: where do locals go? published recently on the Odiporikon travel tips website.

Written by an Athens-born blogger, the article notes that Athens offers “a very rich variety” of places to enjoy a night on the town. “Avoid the tourist traps and try out places a little further from the usual path,” the article advises.

To that end, it describes the top Athens party districts and how to reach them using the local public transit system and taxis.

Areas listed in the blog post include:

♦ Thissio

♦ Ag. Eirini Square

♦ Kolokotroni Street

♦ Gazi

♦ Psirri

♦ Exarcheia

♦ Chalandri

♦ Glyfada, and

♦ Mikrolimano

Be sure to bookmark the guide to keep on hand for your trip to Athens.

OPUS Inner Pleasure Glyfada

OPUS Inner Pleasure is one of many hot hangouts in the Glyfada coastal suburb of Athens. It’s a restaurant-cafe by day and a party club at night.

 

Top smoke-free Athens bars and restaurants for non-smokers

Mama Roux Athens

The open-air terrace at Mama Roux is shown in a  photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page. Mama Roux is among 10 top Athens cocktail bars & restaurants that expressly forbid smoking on their premises, according to an article from the Greece Is culture and gastronomy website.

 

Breathe better: From a visitor’s point of view, there are very few negative things I can say about Greece. I love going there, and wouldn’t publish this website if I didn’t. But like any place on Earth, it’s not a perfect paradise and it does have some drawbacks. The biggest, from my personal perspective, is the wide prevalence of smoking — not just by locals, but by tourists, too.

I’m seriously allergic to tobacco smoke — it makes me intensely nauseous, and it hinders my breathing. It also stings my eyes and sticks to my contact lenses, leaving them scratchy and uncomfortable. And it doesn’t matter if I’m inside a building or outdoors — if someone lights up nearby, the impact of their smoke is just as severe.

It seems I have plenty of company: I’ve received messages from other people with smoke allergies, and I’ve spoken to numerous travellers (mainly from the USA and Canada) who have commented on the pervasiveness of smoking even in places where it’s supposed to be illegal. 

Happily, I have found cigarette smoke less of a nuisance in recent years than it was during each of our Greek holidays prior to 2009. That was the year Greece enacted legislation to ban smoking in many public places, and though the law has often been ignored since it took effect, I have encountered far fewer people puffing in places where I can’t easily escape their smoke, such as in shops, restaurants and hotels, or on public transit. I still have occasional problems, but I breathe much easier in Greece now than I did up to 2009.

Nevertheless, a meal in a restaurant or a coffee break in a cafe can be ruined for me if another customer or someone on staff lights up. No matter how far away I sit from a smoker (and I actually have changed tables to avoid some), their smoke will waft in my direction and give me grief. 

 

Since I’ve often wondered if there’s anywhere I could go where I could be guaranteed someone wouldn’t be smoking at the table beside me, I was glad to find an article entitled Athenian Hangouts Without Smoke, which was published at the end of March on the excellent Greece Is culture and gastronomy.

Written by Maria Coveou, the article profiles 10 Athens restaurants and cocktail bars “which are smoke-free in theory and in practice, and where exceptions are never made.”

I haven’t been to any of the establishments yet (though I have walked past one — the legendary Zonars restaurant and lounge), but I have bookmarked the article to keep on hand for my next trip to Athens.

If you’re planning to visit Athens and you’re a non-smoker yourself, click here to read Maria’s article and save it for future reference. 

And if you happen to know of other bars and restaurants in Athens (or anywhere else in Greece) that steadfastly forbid tobacco smoking on their premises, please let me and my non-smoking readers know by adding a comment to this post (simply click on the word “comments” under the headline at the top of this article, and write your response in the “Leave a Reply” box.) Those of us with cigarette smoke allergies will be immensely grateful for the information!

 

Zonars restaurant Athens Greece

One of the city’s most famous restaurants and lounge bars, Zonars is another establishment where non-smokers can enjoy a drink or meal in an environment free of tobacco smoke. This street-view photo of Zonars was shared on Facebook by Aspasia Taka Architects.

Mykonos set for 2015 season with over 100 new places to eat, drink, shop, sleep and party

Cayenne Mykonos restaurant logo

Located at Tourlos, just a short walk from the New Port, Cayenne is among dozens of brand-new businesses on Mykonos this year. 

 

[Updated October 30 2015]

 “Crisis? What crisis?” That’s a question many regular visitors to Mykonos will probably ask when they see the more than 100 new and completely-renovated businesses that have opened on the island this year.

While Greece shudders through its sixth straight year of devastating economic turbulence,  Mykonos appears to be in a different world altogether, virtually unscathed from the recession that has ravaged the rest of the country.

Last year, the island enjoyed a record year for tourism — receiving more than 2 million visitors — and some longtime local residents told me they could not recall ever seeing the island as crowded and busy as it was during July and August. Hotels were filled to capacity, flotillas of luxury yachts were common sights at many beaches, and champagne flowed by the caseload at bars and restaurants across the island. As I reported in a July 16 2014 post, hotel rates reached higher levels, too, with the international online travel firm Trivago noting that prices had soared as much as 61% over the previous year.

 

 

International brands flocking to Mykonos

In anticipation that even more tourists with thick wallets will arrive in 2015, local and international companies have been pouring millions of Euros into the construction of new hotels, shops, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as the renovation or upgrading of existing properties. Indeed, since late last autumn, Mykonos has been experiencing an unprecedented building boom as small armies of contractors swarmed around the island in a rush to finish dozens of projects. Global business brands flocked to the island in droves, scooping up any available real estate for their new Mykonos outlets.

With many of the new enterprises aimed at affluent travellers, Mykonos mayor Konstantinos Koukas has told local media he’s confident that the island is now well-poised to compete for a bigger share of the the world’s luxury travel market, and will successfully lure big spenders who usually flock to other Mediterranean hotspots like St Tropez, Monaco and Ibiza.

To see what’s new on Mykonos this year, please click on the convenient quick links below:

Click here for page 2 to read about new and newly-renovated restaurants in Mykonos Town,  Tourlos, and the Ano Mera area.

Click here for page 3, which describes  new and renovated beach restaurants, as well as the island’s two big new beach clubs, Monarch and Scorpios.

Click here for page 4, which highlights new and renovated nightlife venues in Mykonos Town, including bars, nightclubs, and shisha lounges; and

Click here for page 5, which introduces you to the island’s new spas, retail shopping establishments, and hotels.

 

Food Mall Mykonos image from the restaurants' Facebook page

More than two dozen new restaurants opened on Mykonos for 2015, and five of them can be found under one roof at the Food Mall Mykonos on the highway between Mykonos Town and Ano Mera.

 

Aerial view of Scorpios Mykonos

Widely recognized as the hippest new beach club on Mykonos for 2015, the Scorpios Beach Restaurant and Bar became one of the most popular places on the island within weeks of its opening in an “idyllic haven” on a peninsula between Paraga and Platis Gialos. 

 

Monarch Restaurant & Beach Club at Kalo Livadi Mykonos photo from its website

Another new beach club and restaurant is Monarch at Kalo Livadi, which boasts cuisine designed by a Michelin-starred chef, comfy beachfront lounge chairs, and occasional special events and big parties. 

 

Buddha-Bar Beach restaurant and bar at Santa Marina Resort Mykonos photo from the resort Facebook page

The world’s first Buddha-Bar Beach restaurant, bar and beach club opened on May 20 at the Santa Marina Resort at Ornos. 

 

Ling Ling Mykonos entrance

One of the most eagerly awaited new arrivals on Mykonos was Ling Ling, a Hakkasan-branded Cantonese fine dining restaurant and  uber-chic nightspot.  It opened in July in the premises that had been occupied for decades by the famous Philippi Garden Restaurant, which closed a few years ago after its owner died. 

 

Bonbonniere Mykonos nightclub

June 27 saw the launch of yet another new nightclub when Bonbonniere Mykonos threw its opening party in the ODE Mykonos club in the Tria Pigadia area of Mykonos Town. It’s a summer “pop up” version of the world-famous Bonbonniere club in London whose owner, Joe Fournier (wearing the white polo shirt) is pictured after signing a contract to bring Bonbonniere to the ODE space for the season.

 

Caprice Bar Mykonos photo from inmykonos dot com website

Mykonos residents and visitors weren’t just buzzing about new business openings this spring — people were also chatting about the abrupt closure of the enormously popular Caprice Bar (pictured above) and its surprise reopening a few weeks later as Caprice, a restaurant-bar located just a few doors down from its old place at Little Venice. 

 

Mykonos No 5 Villas luxury apartments photo from the hotel website

Mykonos No.5 Villas is one of the island’s newest hotels, offering a selection of seaview apartment residences, lofts and maisonettes in the Kanalia district 3.5 kilometers from Mykonos Town.

 

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Tuesday food & drink promotion kicks off at bars, restaurants & cafes in Central Athens

Have Fun in Athens poster

The Have Fun in Athens (Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα) food and drink promotion launched today at 39 participating establishments in the city center

 

 

Cheap ‘n’ cheerful: More than three dozen restaurants, bars and cafés have teamed up to offer special food and beverage discounts every Tuesday as part of a City of Athens initiative to boost local business and enliven the city center.

The Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα promotion, which translates as “Going out in Athens,” is a weekly event that will take place every Tuesday starting today.

Participating establishments will be offering special tasting menus at a price of €10, coffee beverages for €2, drinks for €5 and bottles of wine for €12. The specials are available all day on Tuesdays, and each restaurant will offer its own menu.

 

City staging a comeback from the economic crisis

With Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα, the City aims to maintain momentum in the ongoing revival of its historic and commercial center, which has been staging a remarkable comeback from the financial crisis that devastated the country’s employment and economy for five years.

The goal is to draw more people into the city’s central core to further animate and enliven the area and enhance social and economic activity.

Though just under 40 businesses have signed up so far, the City is actively encouraging more establishments to participate. Click here to see a list of places already in the program.

Click here to read an announcement about the Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα program, in Greek, at this page on the City of Athens website. (I have written to the City’s press office to ask if information about the program is available online in English, but haven’t heard back yet. However, you can use a program like Google Translate to read a reasonable translation of the program description.)

 

Athens bounces back: NY Times travel report sees rise in Greek capital’s confidence & creativity

 Click the arrow to view 36 Hours in Athens by The New York Times

 

 

On the rebound: As tourists continue pouring into Athens in record numbers, visitor statistics aren’t the only things on the rise — so is the city’s self-confidence and creativity, The New York Times reports.

That surge in local pride is in turn reflected in the city’s burgeoning arts and culture scene, where new shops, restaurants, bars and, museums and cultural venues have been popping up all over Athens, Joanna Kakissis notes in a travel piece published by the venerable American newspaper.

 

New cafés & restaurants revive city squares

“After years of dreadful press that defined Athens as a broken-down capital prone to fiery riots, the city’s self-confidence and creativity are stirring again. Enterprising young fashion and graphic designers are opening shops celebrating the classic lines of ancient Greece and the anarchic wit of modern times. In reviving city squares, there are new restaurants and cafes serving native delicacies like Cretan sausage and sheep’s milk yogurt with preserved quince. The five-year-old Acropolis Museum is consistently rated one of the top museums in the world, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art is set to move into a new building later this year. Even rough times have silver linings,” she writes in 36 Hours in Athens, published this week.

The article chronicles a weekend visit Joanna paid to the city, describing the various landmarks and tourist attractions she visited, the restaurants and bars where she ate and drank, and the shops and cultural centers she discovered.

 

36-hour weekend visit

The informative travel feature includes a map showing the locations of places referred to in the article, plus a “details” list of addresses and websites (where available) for the various venues.

The article is accompanied by the video I posted above, which includes insightful brief interviews interspersed with colourful scenes of city streets and attractions. The video was created by the team of Fritzie Andrade, Max Cantor, Chris Carmichael and Aaron Wolfe.

Click here to read the complete article by Joanna Kakissis in The New York Times‘ online travel section.

 

 Heteroclito wine bar Athens

One of the places The New York Times visited was Heteroclito cav & bar à vin, seen here in a screen capture from the newspaper’s 36 Hours in Athens video

 

Summer’s top drink on Mykonos: champagne

Bubblesgallery Champagne-Cocktail bar

Just as this photo from the Bubblesgallery Champagne-Cocktail Bar Facebook page suggests, champagne is the top beverage choice for Mykonos visitors celebrating important occasions or special holiday moments …

 

 Super Paradise beach Mykonos

… but at some of the island’s notorious party beaches, champagne is meant to be shaken and sprayed, not drunk, as this photo from the Super Paradise Beach Facebook page illustrates

 

 Sip it or spray it: Seems like only yesterday that mojitos were all the rage on Mykonos.  Everywhere I went a couple of summers ago, whether in Mykonos Town or at one of the island’s world-famous beaches, I saw people sipping mojitos.  Dozens of different drinks are more in favour now, but social media postings show that the most popular alcoholic beverage on the island this summer isn’t a cocktail — it’s champagne.

I regularly follow Mykonos events on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and elsewhere, and have been astounded by the vast number of photos and videos of champagne that have been published so far this summer.

The images confirm that Mykonos tourists will drink thousands of cases of bubbly this travel season, but also suggest it’s possible that much of the sparkling French wine sold on the island won’t even touch people’s lips.

Many visitors will order bottles of bubbly to toast an important occasion or mark a special holiday moment, of course, but countless more will purchase champagne with absolutely no intention of ever taking a taste. For them, it’s only meant to be shaken and sprayed — at other people, especially sexy bikini-clad young ladies.

Bars at two of the island’s top party beaches — Paradise and Super Paradise — have been stocking champagne by the truckload this summer to supply revellers who want to shake things up and get wet, wild and sticky after spending their afternoon frolicking in the sun and sea.

While dowsing people with drinks sounds like something one might expect to see only at beaches where 18- to 35-year-old partygoers gather to get totally trashed, champagne showers have been recorded even at classy high-end Mykonos dining and drinking establishments, like Nammos Restaurant by the Sea at upscale Psarou beach.

If you’re travelling to Mykonos this season, turn to page 2 of this post to discover some of the best places to enjoy champagne — whether you prefer to sip it or spray it.

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An Athens hidden gem: the TAF art space & café

The Art Foundation in Athens

An art installation in one of the cool gallery spaces at metamatic: taf

 

 

Cool spaces: If you’d like to have a coffee or drink in a cool and truly unique setting, and have the opportunity to view contemporary art exhibitions at the same time, make plans to visit metamatic: taf (formerly called TAF: The Art Foundation) next time you’re in Athens.

One of the most fascinating cultural venues we’ve ever seen, metamatic: taf is an incredibly innovative multi-purpose facility that features cool gallery and performance art spaces along with a fabulous courtyard-café bar that received praise in the New York Times Magazine last year.

metamatic: taf is secluded inside a rustic old building at 5 Normanou Street in the Monastiraki flea market neighbourhood of Athens, and is so inconspicuous from the dingy, dark street that it’s almost hard to believe more than 200,000 people visit each year. Until you see what’s inside.

 

Our friend promised to show us something amazing

A friend showed us the place last October while we were on our way to a birthday party in the nearby Psirri neighbourhood. Leading us along a series of dark and narrow cobblestone streets, she promised there was something “amazing” that we just had to see while we were in the area. (Of course, we couldn’t help but wonder where the heck she was taking us, since the streets were practically vacant and everything appeared to be locked up tight.)

We had absolutely no idea what to expect when we stepped through a pair of wrought iron doors into a stone-walled, ground-level room that was almost empty.  The room had a few pieces of furniture, including two televisions that were both turned on, one displaying the words “super cool” above an image of a ceramic owl. We walked up a flight of stairs, turned a corner and found ourselves on a walkway overlooking the impressive courtyard café. I distinctly remember saying “Wow!” and thinking what a great place it would be to have a drink.

Our friend led us down the walkway, where windows and doors offered views into rooms housing a variety of interesting and provocative contemporary art installations. The works reminded me of art projects we had seen during some of the annual Nuit Blanche events back home in Toronto. After we spent a short period of time checking out the art displays, our friend led us through the courtyard — which was buzzing with dozens of people enjoying conversation over wine, beer and cocktails — and eventually back out to the street.

 

Look for a small, illuminated logo next to a doorway

When I asked “how the heck would anyone even know how to find this place,” our friend pointed to a small illuminated metamatic: taf logo on the wall next to the entrance gate. If we had been trying to find the place on our own, I think we probably would have walked past without even seeing the sign. Of course, it was obvious once it was pointed out to us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere because we had to join other friends for a birthday dinner celebration at a taverna. But next time we’re in Athens, we’ll see if we can find our way back.

If you need to be convinced that metamatic: taf is worth a visit, consider that it got good press in the New York Times Magazine. The magazine’s April 7 2013 food and drink edition included the feature A World of Secret Watering Holes, in which overseas-based New York Times reporters described “their most memorable drinking spots.” Correspondent Rachel Donadio’s pick for Athens reads: “It’s on a gritty street in downtown Athens, under the shadow of the Acropolis. At night, you have to wander through a shuttered flea market to find it. But inside, the Art Foundation, or TAF, is a hidden garden — a courtyard where trees are strung with lights; an oasis, young and alive.”

metamatic: taf also was profiled in an October 11 2013 article that Nelly Paraskevopoulou wrote for USA Today’s 10Best Travel Advice for Travelers website in October 2013.

You can obtain more information about the venue and its events by visiting the metamatic: taf Facebook page.

 

metamatic: taf in Athens

A small illuminated logo marks the location of the entrance to the metamatic: taf galleries and café-bar at 5 Normanou Street

 

 

metamatic taf in Athens

Televisions we saw inside the gallery & café entrance

 

 

metamatic: taf in Athens

The cozy courtyard café and bar

 

 

metamatic: taf Athens

A daytime view of the café courtyard. I found this photo on the metamatic: taf blog. The gallery and performance spaces are contained in the two level structure that encloses the courtyard. The rickety building looks like it’s ready to crumble, but its dishevelled appearance enhances the courtyard’s ambience and atmosphere, thanks to the café’s subtle nighttime lighting.

 

Mykonos 2014 restaurant & club update (Part 2)

Funky Kitchen Mykonos

The bar at Funky Kitchen Mykonos, a new restaurant that opened recently in the Lakka district of Mykonos Town. The photo is one of several posted recently on Funky Kitchen’s Facebook page.

 

More openings: Several weeks back I posted photos and information about brand-new tourist-related businesses opening on Mykonos for the summer of 2014 (see my April 13 2014 report headlined: Remezzo club gets restyled into restaurant & bar as new places to eat, stay & play open on Mykonos).

Friends on Mykonos tell me the arrival of the new accommodation, bar and dining venues has heightened the positive energy and enthusiastic buzz that has been steadily building this spring as travel bookings indicate the island could see a whopping 40% increase in visitor numbers this year.

That excitement will continue to increase this week, and throughout May, as more of the island’s already-established restaurants and bars launch their season with opening parties and special events.

Here’s some information to update my previous report from last month:

 

 

Newcomers to Lakka Square

Located near the busy Fabrika bus depot, the area around Lakka Square in Mykonos Town has long been one of the island’s top destinations for drinking and dining. It’s home to a variety of hugely popular restaurants and tavernas, including Bakalo, Marco Polo Taverna, Mediterraneo, and Sale e Pepe, and is where the cavernous Space Mykonos nightclub was located.

This year has brought three noteworthy changes to Lakka’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene.

Space is gone, and a new venue — Dream City (DC) — has taken its place. DC kicked off the season on April 19 with a grand opening party featuring Melisses and Knockout, and threw another bash the next day with Claydee and Bang La Decks. During May, Dream City will be open only on Fridays and Saturdays, but after that will be party central every day for the rest of the summer.

 

Dream City Mykonos

This image was posted on Facebook to promote last month’s opening party for Dream City Mykonos, a new club in the old Space Mykonos space

 

 

Just around the corner from DC, Funky Kitchen has opened its doors and begun welcoming customers. The restaurant subscribes to the “slow food” philosophy in preparing its Mediterranean dishes from high-quality, locally-sourced products. Everything the restaurant serves is made in-house, from its bread and dips to its marmelade and sauces as well as its sweets, chocolate chili and cardamom ice cream. Funky Kitchen also boasts an extensive wine list and cocktail menu.

Funky Kitchen is situated at 40 Ignatiou Basoula street, next door to Marco Polo Taverna.

 

Funky Kitchen Mykonos

Street view of the new Funky Kitchen restaurant, which features Mediterranean cuisine prepared in line with the “slow food” approach to cooking

 

 

The third newcomer to Lakka Square is Noodle Mykonos, an Asian “fusion” restaurant with a noodle and sushi bar.

Noodle offers “quick, fresh and healthy” cuisine for on-site dining, take-out and delivery.

 

Noodle Mykonos

This map, from the Noodle Mykonos Facebook page, shows the restaurant’s prime location two blocks from the Fabrika bus depot

 

 

Noodle Mykonos

This photo of guests gathered outside Noodle Mykonos during the restaurant’s recent opening party was posted on Facebook.

 

 

Noodle Mykonos

Also from the Noodle Mykonos Facebook page, a snapshot of the menu

 

 

 Skandi Bar ready to rock

The Skandinavian Bar and Disco has been a veritable institution on Mykonos since 1978, ranking as one of the top places to party in the Greek islands every year since then. Its opening night event for 2014 takes place tonight (May 5), and the place will continue rocking all summer long.

 

Skandinavian Bar Mykonos

Opening party promotional image from the Skandinavian Bar Facebook page

 

 

Skandinavian Bar Mykonos

Skandinavian Bar posted this enthusiastic group photo on its Facebook page to promote the club’s opening party on Monday May 5

 

 

Kastro Bar launches new season

Also opening today is another popular bar that has developed a legion of fans and regular visitors from around the world since it opened in 1976 — Kastro Bar. It’s located steps from the famous Paraportiani Church and boasts great sea and sunset views.

 

Kastro Bar Mykonos

This photo of the Kastro Bar interior was posted on the Mykonos Facebook page today to announce today’s official opening.

 

 

 A Nice n Easy start at Kalo Livadi

 The Nice n Easy Bio restaurant cafe expanded from Athens to Mykonos last summer, and the island outpost became an instant hit. Nice n Easy Mykonos vaulted to the #37 ranking for Mykonos restaurants on TripAdvisor.com, supplanting Solymar as the trendiest eatery at Kalo Livadi beach. (Solymar had to settle for the #176 ranking on TripAdvisor’s Mykonos restaurant chart).

Will Nice n Easy duplicate its success in 2014? We may soon find out — it will be opening its doors on May 16.

 

Nice n Easy Mykonos

This photo was posted on the Nice n Easy Mykonos Facebook page to announce the restaurant’s official opening on May 16

 

 

Top beach eateries now open

Kalosta Restaurant quickly became one of the most popular new places to dine on Mykonos last year, vaulting into a high position on the TripAdvisor.com traveller reviews (where it is currently is rated as the #12 restaurant on the island.) It opened for a fresh season on May 7.

It joins several perennially-popular dining spots that have already opened for business at other beach areas, including Kiki’s Taverna at Agios Sostis, Aneplora at Kalafatis, Solymar at Kalo Livadi, Tasos at Paraga, Nammos at Psarou, Kostantis at Ornos and Hippie Fish at Agios Ioannis. Launching its season soon will be Fokos Taverna at Fokos beach, which has set its opening for May 15.

 

Kalosta restaurant Mykonos

This photo, from the Kalosta Restaurant Facebook page, shows part of the view of Panormos beach that restaurant guests will enjoy from the open-air dining terrace

 

 

Kostantis restaurant Mykonos

Kostantis restaurant is situated near the middle of Ornos beach. This photo of the beachside dining terrace appears on the Kostantis Restaurant Facebook page.

 

 

Mykonos Town hot spots

Fans of superb Italian food and fine wine will be happy to hear that Sale e Pepe is open for another season. The restaurant is located at Lakka Square and has won numerous accolades for its food and wine. It has been well-known for its wine list which is arguably the best on the island, and which has won acclaim from Wine Spectator magazine as one of the best restaurant wine lists in the world.

Lovers of authentic Neapolitan pizza will be delighted that Marechiaro is now open again, too.  Besides pizza, Marechiaro offers salads and appetizers as well as fish specials and rib eye steaks.  Pizza can be ordered for pick-up and take-away each day from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Last but not least, the world-famous Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos started its second decade of business on May 9. Situated in the chic Belvedere Hotel, the restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

 

Sale & Pepe Mykonos

From the Sale & Pepe Facebook page, a photo of the restaurant’s open-air dining terrace near Lakka Square in Mykonos Town

 

 

New disco & lounge at Taxi Square

Boogie nights return to Taxi Square on May 16 when the new lounge & discotheque @54 Club opens in the premises formerly occupied by the Ramrod Club gay bar.

The island’s newest nightclub is promising “Exclusive weekly parties full of the sexiest & most glamorous jet setting crowd and pumpin’ jamz to boot!”

The grand opening celebration starts at 7 pm.

 

@54 Club Mykonos

Bartender Tassos stands outside @54 Club, a new disco & lounge opening on the premises once occupied by the Ramrod Club gay bar. The club, located next to Taxi Square in Mykonos Town, starts its boogie nights with a grand opening party on May 16. The photo is from @54 Club’s Facebook page.

 

 

Greek dancing & music at Roca Cookery

Roca Cookery isn’t a new restaurant (it has been in business for nearly three years now), but I noticed they have added something new that will probably be as huge a hit with tourists as their excellent seafood dishes and Greek cuisine.

One evening each week, Roca Cookery will host a Greek dancing show with live music. The spectacles will take place on Tuesdays at 21:30 (9:30 p.m.).

For reservation inquiries, contact the restaurant by telephone at 30 2289 022955 or drop by in person. Roca Cookery is situated next to the Mykonos Archaeological Museum on the road above the Mykonos Old Port.

 

Roca Cookery Mykonos

A promotional image for the new Greek dancing and live music shows being held every Tuesday night at Roca Cookery.

 

Our best food & drink experiences of 2013

 Greek salad and Mythos beer

A Mythos beer and Greek salad … part of our afternoon “snack” at Paradiso Taverna during one of our Naxos beach walks in October 2013

 

 

Good eats: In my recent post Our best hotel experiences of 2013, I described the various places we stayed at in Mykonos, Ios, Naxos and Glyfada during our two trips to Greece last year. Today it’s time to talk about the food we ate while we were there.

We love to eat, and one of the reasons we keep going back to Greece is that we immensely enjoy the food there, whether it’s traditional Greek cooking, salads or vegetarian fare, grilled meats or fish, seafood or international cuisine.

We eat well on our holidays, and we always come home wishing we could recreate some of the most memorable meals in our own kitchen. We try, but the recipes either never turn out right or we simply can’t replicate the wonderful tastes and flavours we enjoyed so much in Greece. And, of course, that’s largely because we can’t possibly reproduce the unique charm and character or the extraordinary locations of the places where we had dinners or drinks — or even just a cup of coffee.

Last year, we had remarkable meals or drinks at dozens of different restaurants, bars and cafés. Individual dishes at certain places were outstanding, while in other instances it was the physical premises or scenic location of a particular restaurant that gave us a dining experience we won’t soon forget.

Below are descriptions of the restaurants, bars meals and drinks that impressed us the most — our best food and drink experiences of 2013.

 

 

Best beach taverna

Nikolas Taverna on Mykonos and Paradiso Taverna on Naxos (Tie)

 

Paradiso Taverna Naxos

Paradiso Taverna has over a dozen tables grouped around a tree on Maragas beach on Naxos. This is one of the most-photographed sights on the island, and this scene has even been featured on Naxos postcards.

 

 

Nikolas Taverna Mykonos

Nikolas Taverna also has tables on the sand, in this case at little Agia Anna beach between Platis Gialos and Paraga on Mykonos. The trees shade the tables part of the day, but there are more seats on the sheltered outdoor terrace (left) for people who don’t want to sit in the sun.

 

 

One of the things we like most about Greece, and especially its islands, is the opportunity to have a “Shirley Valentine” moment — that is, enjoy a drink or meal right next to the sea, at a table either on a sandy beach or on a terrace mere inches from the water. It’s something we can never do at home, where strict government liquor laws and rigid municipal licensing regulations require restaurants serving alcohol to keep their dining areas enclosed by fences or waist-high barriers — and well away from the water’s edge.

So we’re thrilled when we find tavernas that have open seating close to the water — especially if those tables offer views of marvellous scenery or striking sunsets. And if the restaurant kitchens happen to serve delicious food, too, we will feel like we’re in paradise.

 

Superb food and good service

Two remarkable places that we have particularly enjoyed on past vacations are Nikolas Taverna at Agia Anna/Paraga on Mykonos, and Paradiso Taverna at Maragas beach on Naxos. Both have provided consistently good service and superb food, as well as exquisite settings, and both lived up to our high expectations for more of the same when we paid them repeat visits during our holidays in 2013.

The family-run Nikolas Taverna is situated on a small, quiet strand between Platis Gialos and Paraga, two of the most popular beaches on Mykonos. Our favourite place to sit is at one of the tables on the sand, under the row of trees in front of the restaurant. There are nice views toward Platis Gialos, and the setting is profoundly serene and relaxed … it’s a pleasant spot to mellow out while enjoying the fabulous home-cooked Greek cuisine or fresh seafood.

Paradiso Taverna is situated at Maragas, in between two of the most popular beaches on Naxos — Plaka and Agia Anna. Paradiso has a large, tree-sheltered dining terrace in front of the restaurant building, and more tables directly across the road, under a distinctive, eye-catching tree right on the beach. Both spots offer excellent views of the beach, sea and nearby Paros island, and both are good places to watch a sunset, too. The food is as delicious as the scenery.

If you get the chance to visit either Nikolas or Paradiso for a meal, don’t just order off the printed menu — take a few minutes to go inside the kitchen to see the various vegetable, meat and seafood dishes that have been specially prepared for that day. Everything will look appealing, so don’t be surprised if you have trouble deciding what to order!

 

 

Two new beach tavernas we discovered

 

Mikri Vigla Taverna

 Mikri Vigla Taverna at Parthenos beach on Naxos

 

 

Honourable mention goes to two beach tavernas we discovered for the first time in 2013 and hope to revisit in the near future.

We stopped into Mikri Vigla Taverna just for a cold drink and a snack while mountain biking down the southwest coast of Naxos on October 6. We ordered only a Greek salad since we weren’t very hungry, but when we saw the food in the kitchen — as well as what people at the tables next to ours were being served — we regretted that we didn’t have bigger appetites. Everything looked tasty, portions appeared to be quite generous, and all the customers kept commenting on how good their meals were. It was the last day the taverna was open for the season, and the staff kept apologizing for having only a “small” selection of items to choose from. However, we were impressed with the large number of dishes that actually were available — we would have been spoiled for choice had we wanted a more substantial meal.

On October 14, we went to Aperanto Galazio with two friends from the Athens area. The restaurant is located on the beach at Varkiza, a town on the Athens Riviera. We sat on the shaded outdoor dining terrace just steps from the sand, enjoying the beach and sea views while we dined on eight delicious items, including taramosalata (a fish roe dip), Greek salad, stuffed tomatoes, zucchini fritters, calamari, fried potatoes and red and white wine. The food was excellent, the service was great, and the total price was a very pleasant surprise: just €35. We had been expecting the lunch to cost considerably more given the substantial amount of food we had ordered.

 

Aperanto Galazio taverna Varkiza

Aperanto Galazio restaurant at Varkiza beach on the Athens Riviera

 

Please click on the link below to see dozens more photos and restaurant reviews on page 2 of this post.

 

 

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