Neighbourhoods: urban life in Pangrati
Known for its urban ambience yet a homey neighbourhood feel, Pangrati was always a favourite amongst the art and politics circles, also attracting visiting students due to its central location next to all of Athens' vibrant life. Its recent influx of tourists and the abundance of short-term lets has given it an international vibe, giving birth to new spots and ideas available for the curious ones to explore.
I first visited Pangrati as a student, keen to explore Athens on foot. Tungsten lights hanging over low-levelled wiring is probably the first thing you notice in the area. Its tourism footfall centers around the Panathenaic stadium in all-white marble, the National Gallery and soon enough the upcoming Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art due to open in early 2018.
Nevertheless, the curious one fell for it due to its unpretentious feel and its homey charm abundant in all the cafés and places around. The sunlight during the morning hours hits the walls of Pangrati and creates that buzzing feel, adding so much to it. Greek delis, art shops and indie galleries share streets with pizzerias, casual tavernas and gourmet restaurants.
Pangrati is where George Korres housed his first Korres pharmacy before launching a now global cosmetics business, a few steps away from the Stadium (as locals call it). A bit further uphill and at the back of the stadium lies a hidden lush paradise around Varnava square, once mostly known to connoisseurs for Greece's best restaurant Spondi by Apostolos Trastellis. The famous tailor, Yiannis, has been mending clothes and shoes for more than 17 years now, before gentrification of this area attracted burger lovers to Colibri, curious foodies to Baba Ghanoush Falafel Shop and the cool kids to Chelsea Hotel's curbside drinks.
As you slowly descend to the more traditional cafés like Aerostato and Trigono, swing by the Chalk of the town shop for some handcrafts or pop-in at Skrow Theater to check their latest performance schedule. Apart from the nice atmosphere and vibrant nights, the Small 8 team launched this sibling venue across the street in an effort to attract more artists to the area. What's also new down there is Ohh Boy, a stylish all-white café with some healthy bites and a hip crowd that opened last spring.
But Pangrati is also home to tasty food with Cookoovaya topping the charts ever since the team of 5 well-known chefs joined forces back in 2012 (full review here). Vezene is known for its upscale juicy meat, Mavro Provato is by now a low-budget comfort food classic (read full review here) and recently Cupola, an Italian trattoria, opened in Eforionos where Cucina Povera was once housed.
When you've fed up from all the food, try popping in at All In Yoga studio where Bessy regularly hosts reinvigorating yoga classes! If you're not the type and want to work out your spirit without sweating too much, Pallas vintage cinema is also a good choice, known for its classic reruns in this almost 100 years establishment now.
Whatever you do, Pangrati offers so much to explore and indeed remains at the top of our list!
- Panathenaic Stadium - the main landmark in the area, home to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and the world's only white marble stadium, now hosting a series of live music and culture events. Nice photo opp if you go all the way to the top
- Athens War Museum - nice tour down memory lane on Greece's military history with weapons, uniforms and aircrafts on show
- Aristotle's Lyceum - ruins of a site where ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is thought to have taught his students. Not much to see but nice gardens to walk around
- Chalk of The Town - cute little arts and crafts shop that's also good for some impromptu shopping; also offering some art classes
- Spondi - fine dining by Apostolos Trastellis, with a Med-infused menu and a nice terrace during the summer months
- Cookoovaya - combined gastronomic power of five chefs that opened this space in late 2014 with a view to bring back to life some of that old Athenian charm. Great bougatsa-like dessert! Read our full review here
- Vezene - all about meat, an upscale (and somewhat pricey) restaurant with a killer dessert
- To Mavro Provato - simple, comfort food, reasonably priced. Need we say more? Also, has an outlet up north in Melissia. Read our full review here
- Cupola - traditional trattoria in the pedestrian part of Eforionos street just next to the Stadium. Also features a good wine list
- Mystic - traditional taverna with tasty Greek dishes (as well as pizza) and a good service. The indoors could do a lot better although they compensate with a nice rooftop terrace
- Colibri - arguably one of the best burgers in town in this local joint that offers a great night out in this quiet pedestrian street
- Baba Ghanoush Falafel Shop - hearty portions at a good price in this cute little join just off Varnava square. Just don't sit inside if you want to avoid the kitchen ;)
- Elvis Souvlakia - standard grill, good for souvlaki skewers and some french fries. That's about it
- Small 8 - a classic by now; nice coffeeshop away from the busy centre of Pagrati that is also a good choice for drinks off the beaten path with some good upbeat music. Can combine with a show at their sibling Skrow theatre
- Ohh boy - new addition to Pangrati's hip scene; clean white space indoors and nice ambience for the few tables outside. Also offers some tasty bites and breakfast - you should try one of their fresh sandwiches! Just make sure you get early enough to catch a spot!
- Chelsea Hotel - that's where to kool kids hang out at night. Usually crowded, it's basically like drinking right on the street (although the indoors area is nice) by their signature striped umbrellas
- Trigono - traditional kafeneio offering a few select meze-style bites and a funky alternative crowd. Great shade under the trees outside
- Aerostato - one of the oldest joints in Pagrati in this lovely small square behind Vasileos Konstantinou avenue. A mixed crowd, a few snacks on the menu and a long list of beers