Neighbourhoods: the rough, homey and beautiful world of Metaxourgio
As I drive away from the crowded city centre of Athens and to the west, I find myself in the more quiet, downtempo and almost communal neighbourhood of Metaxourgio. Gone are the days of trashy Psyri and Gkazi. Metaxourgio is now acquiring a reputation as an artistic and fashionable neighbourhood due to the opening of many art galleries, trendy restaurants and cafes. Moreover, local efforts to beautify and invigorate the neighbourhood have reinforced a budding sense of community that makes everything even more homey.
Originally a thriving working-class neighbourhood, mostly due to the silk factory that has now transformed to a municipal gallery of Athens, Metaxourgio almost got abandoned for a period starting in the 1970s. Thanks to the 2004 Olympics, renovation projects in the form of modern lofts and other infrastructure buildings led to the attraction new higher-income residents. Along came the first signs of nightlife attractions such as the first mainstream bar Bios that remains a landmark multi-function space even today. As you walk up the stairs of this repurposed neoclassic house, you come on to the rooftop and the breath-taking view to the Acropolis (and mostly Erecthion). Most recently, our resident recipes contributor Sharon Brenner had housed a pop-up dinner by Records In The Den.
On a warm September morning, I met a friend at the modern backyard of fill the bracket which recently opened by the team of the famous Petralona hit Mr Who (read our review here). Designed by the Italian duo of Giuseppe and Maurizio Alito, fill the bracket immediately got to me as the repurposing of this classic 40s Athenian house is filled with marble, wood and bronze elements. The food was more towards the heavy side so after having coffee, we started walking towards Avdi square where most of the locals hang.
Walking past Astari, a dive for traditional raki, and the beautifully colorful, modern lofts of Milierou street, we made our way to Avdi square and caught some of the early autumn sun. Patrons here are more polite, away from the frenzy of the Athenian joints below Syntagma square, and the ambience is more calm. Going round the hood, we stumbled upon latraac, a unique place in Athens to eat, drink and... skate! Located next to a homeless shelter we even saw people airing the laundry out in the street. A bit further down on Leonidou street we stopped at the vestigial park that locals have created simply by using some wood and rocks. The smell from the grilled souvlaki across the street at Elvis quickly got to us and as we had worked an appetite we made a quick stop for the famous Greek street food.
But Metaxourgio is also a treat during the night hours. The gourmet crowd first visited the area because of Funky Gourmet (and their two Michelin stars) and Aleria's garden, whereas the more trendy ones got here in 2016 due to the opening of the pop-up diner The Big Kahuna. Regardless of which one you identify the most with, there are plenty of other options that are worthy for a few nights out here.
Seychelles remains at the to of the list if you're looking for a budget meal at a cosy restaurant with a killer menu! Rakor also offers tasty bites and a nice indoors/outdoors experience. And Tha Se Kano Vasilissa is probably great for a more intimate wine and dine in this restored warehouse space. When the food is in and the night is on, head over to Beauty Killed the Beast for some nice cocktails and some loud music. Unless you want to enjoy the Athenian balmy weather and have drinks at the stylish backyard of fill the bracket.
- Municipal Gallery of Athens - open in this location since October 2010, this 1500 m2 gallery is housed in a renovated 19th-century building by Hans Christian Hansen
- Avdi Square - cute and cosy square with numerous coffee shops to hang at
- Open-air market - held every Monday on Kerameikos St., this large market offers a vital source of fresh produce for the neighbourhood.
- Chinatown - a shopping mall, as well as numerous Asian grocery stores and clothing outlets can be found in Metaxourgeio between Kolonou and Kolokynthous streets
- Funky Gourmet - one of the best restaurants in Athens awarded with 2 Michelin stars, offering innovative dishes delivered as 3 multi-course tasting menus
- Aleria - proper old-school restaurant with a nice patio at the back and a great Greek creative menu by Gikas Xenakis. You must try their pasticcio signature dish!
- Tha Se Kano Vasilissa - an old warehouse converted into a wine bar restaurant with just a handful of tables. Great ambience for an intimate weeknight dinner
- Seychelles - top value for price paid, this casual dining spot offers gourmet Greek fusion cuisine with a nice crowd. Read our full review here
- Rakor - nice casual spot for a tasty meal and a homey feel to it. Also, some tables out in the pedestrian street
- The Big Kahuna - pop-up diner offering mostly fried dishes with a Hawaiian feel. Very good cocktails although service can be poor
- Elvis - great spot for late night cravings of the proper Greek street food: souvlaki. Also has a sister outlet in Pangrati
- Beauty Killed the Beast - new stylish entry in the bar scene of Metaxourgio with very good cocktails and service. Also offers some bites like pizza and tacos
- Fill the bracket - nice patio in this renovated old house, featuring also an immaculate bar space indoors with great cocktails and good service. Food is not as good, although it offers both a daily menu and weekend brunch
- Sam has the wrong boy - budget and cosy restaurant for small bites. Nice variety of salads and very friendly service
- Blue Parrot - buzzing bar in the most central location of Metaxourgio
- Kerameion - more downtempo and mellow bar
- Bios - the first establishment in the area, a multi-functional space featuring a bar downstairs and at the rooftop (great view to the Acropolis!) as well as pop-up exhibitions and events