Cafe Avisina – Not only on Sunday …

Cafe Avisina ( (Closed Monday – Lunch and Dinner the rest of the week)Plateia Avisina, Monasteraki, Antique Market, 210/32 17 047) We don’t generally recommend places in the Plaka/Monasteraki area, but the food here is excellent, and more than once we have spent a lazy weekend afternoon nippling mezedes and sipping wine while being entertained by a really great Greek singer.When I first visited this hidden gem, in the heart of Monasteraki, but off the main drag on the “plateia” where all of the antique furniture sellers are, own Ketty Koufonikola, greeted me, motioned me to choose a seat, and scurried off to tend to the three or four other tables already seated.  Even then, in my early Athens days, with little knowledge of the city or restaurants or Greek food, I knew there was something special here. The menu is creative but not over the top, and the slight adaptations, like the excellent spinach moussaka, were an indication of things to come.  Twenty years later the restaurant has achieved some fame, Ketty has been written about outside of Greece and has even published a cookbook, but, along with her son, she is still an active participant in the daily operations of the restaurant, my favorite moussaka is still on the menu, and the crispy on the outside, juicy keftedes still the perfect accompaniment to an ouzo, although now the wine list has grown a bit and includes a number of good Greek reds.   Get yourself to Monasteraki and ask anyone for Plateia Avissina and you’ll find the cafe. They still make an excellent moussaka with spinach and it is one of the few places with really good homemade taramousalata on the menu.  It’s a fun place to go on Sundays after wandering around the flea market for a few hours, but equally good any day of the week, even without music. If you go on the weekend during the day, be sure to get there early, which for lunch means before 2:00, in order to get a table inside if you want to be close to the entertainment. You may also want to phone ahead to reserve a table. Outside of summer you should be in the company of a lot of Greeks, too, as it is an old local favorite now.  If you are hoping for music, you may want to stop in when you are wandering around Monasteraki, or give them a call to find out what type of music they will have. During the day it is generally Greek music, with a singer and an accordionist, but when we last visited Café Avisinia on a Saturday night they had a sole jazz pianist (he was very good, and it was a nice taste of Chicago for me, but if you are hoping for Greek music, it is best not to be surprised).

6 thoughts on “Cafe Avisina – Not only on Sunday …”

  1. Well that depends on if you go there with Basil and I, because we always order way too much food! Depending on how you eat – you can get away with anywhere from 25 – 60 euro for two. For example, if you eat a couple of appetizers and share a main plate, with a 1/2 kilo of house wine, you’d be on the low end. An appetizer, two main plates, house wine … you’ll be in the middle. The higher end depends on your choice of wine.
    In general when we eat out anywhere in Athens (not splurges) we tend to find a meal anywhere in the center costs around 20 – 25 euro per person. On the other hand, our favorite hidden spot, Kostas, in our neighborhood behind the old Olympic Stadium, never runs us more than 9 euro a person and we leave stuffed, satisfied and full of wonderful regional Greek wine and we eat wonderful fresh fish at a really generic looking Pagrati restaurant (Alegro) for 15 euro/kilo, when everywhere else you’ll find it between 40 – 55 euro/kilo!

  2. Admin says that when you last visited Café Avisinia on a Saturday night they had a solo jazz pianist. How long ago was that? Was he and his music any good?

    We are thinking of going on a Saturday night if the music is good.

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