Review: Epirus Tavern, Athens Greece

A visit to the Athens Central Market is a must for any food-lover while visiting Athens. The market is quite large with distinctive halls for the meats, the seafood, and across the street, you’ll find the fruit and vegetable stalls. Just make sure that you rent self-catering accommodation, as you’ll want to buy all the amazing produce to cook dinner at home!

Case in point – when we visited the markets, we walked away with five fat huge pork loin chops for $8.50 AUD, a whole kilo of strawberries for only $1.50 AUD, a bunch of bananas for another $1 AUD, and a massive block of homemade feta cheese for only $2 AUD. Bargain! We could have bought a lot more, but our time in Athens was limited and I couldn’t envision us taking bags of produce with us onto our next destination in Rome!


Visiting all the stalls and inspecting all the produce to make your selection can be hard work and will easily take the whole morning. Once you’ve done all your shopping, lug your bags to the back of the meat market to find the Epirus Tavern and join with all the older Greek locals as they too have lunch after a hard morning of grocery shopping.

The ordering at Epirus Tavern is very personalised – there’s no sitting down at a table and quietly perusing the menu. Instead, the waitress will lead you directly up to the cafeteria-like counter and point out the various different dishes they’ve prepared for that day. You make your selection from what’s available (they will make particular suggestions for traditional Greek foods they think you should try), and they’ll bring plates of your choices to your table for you.


After seeing all the beautiful plump octopuses (octopi?) at various seafood stalls throughout the market, I needed to order Epirus’s Grilled Octopus! In this dish, thin slices of octopus are simply boiled until cooked then grilled for flavour before being dressed with olive oil and Greek oregano. Very simple but effective – the octopus was nice and tender with a good smoky grilled flavour. The pool of olive oil and oregano also made for a good dipping oil for the complimentary basket of bread as well!


We also chose a serving of the Fish Soup, made up of a medley of potatoes, carrots, herbs, a nondescript bony white fish, and layers of oil on top. The soup wasn’t particularly remarkable (a little too oily for me), but I was impressed by the fact that they use whole fish in their soup, rather than cheaper fish pieces.


K was insistent that we order the Fried Sardines after seeing buckets of local freshly-caught sardines at the seafood stalls in the market. This was a very generous serve for two people – twelve large and plump sardines in all, whereas half of that would have been more than ample of this salty and oily fish. It’s worth asking the waitress for a half serve only – but definitely make sure you order them, because the meatiness of these sardines will blow your mind if you’ve only ever tried anaemic tinned sardines before!


We finished off our meal with a serve of Giant Beans – no that’s not a misnomer, it’s actually the name for these very Mediterranean beans! Cooked in a rich tomato sauce and generously fragranced with fresh oregano and garlic, these well-cooked beans were almost falling apart as I ate them – a beautifully simple home-style dish.


To finish our meal, the waitress brought out some home-made pastries despite our protests of being much too full – Greek Semolina Halva. It’s vegan for all those interested, but unfortunately not gluten-free. While K found the grainy agar jelly-like consistency challenging, I quite enjoyed the pastry as it wasn’t too sweet, and had a great cinnamon spice to it. A nice way to finish our meal.

The Athens Central Market is a must-visit, and Epirus Tavern is by far the best choice for a meal in the market, and even in the surrounding streets as well. Their fuss-free home-style cooking and friendly and personal service makes having a meal there like dining at Nonna’s house – complete with the old-fashioned patterned plates.

Prices are reasonable, if a little higher than other restaurants in Athens – a large meal for two (with a small tip) ended up costing about $45 AUD. The authentic local experience you get combined with the home-style cooking makes it all worthwhile though – it’s a must visit when you go to the Athens Market.

Epirus Tavern is located inside towards the back of the Meat Market of Athens Central Market, on 4 Philopoimenous.

Review: FloCafe, Piraeus, Athens Greece

A mere twenty minute drive away from central Athens lies the port of Piraeus – a town that thinks it’s independent but in reality acts as a satellite suburb of Greater Athens. With a long history stretching back to classical times as the chief port for the Golden Age of Athens, Piraeus as a town has gone through many ups and downs.

At the moment, it’s in a Renaissance period of relative prosperity. Chinese cargo ships anchor at Piraeus as their gateway to the European market, cruise ships with thousands of foreign tourists dock in its harbour every day, old warehouses have been turned into hip clubs and bars for the young and cool Athens crowd, and local families stroll along kilometres of harbourside paths to enjoy the fresh breeze of the Aegean sea.

We joined the local crowds one sunny Sunday afternoon (20 degrees in winter!) and strolled for a while along the harbour before turning into the nearest cafe for a quick and casual lunch. This was actually one of the few establishments on the Marina Zeas that actually offered a minimal food menu – most places are coffee and cocktail bars where locals linger on the outside patio for hours sipping a single drink. FloCafe at least offered a dozen sandwich and salad options for their customers alongside an extensive drinks menu.

Floshake Mandarin with mandarin sorbet and brownie pieces (4.50 Euro) and Freddoccino (4.80 Euro)

Needing some cool refreshment after the absurdly warm winter’s stroll, we ordered a cold drink each – a Freddocino for K, and a house-named Floshake Mandarin for me. A Freddocino is not dissimilar to a iced frappe but in this case, with the addition of a little bit of chocolate powder to soften the bitterness of the coffee – very drinkable on a warm afternoon.

My Floshake Mandarin was very sweet and refreshing – I only wish they hadn’t advertised it ‘with brownie pieces’. Chocolate sprinkles do not equal brownie pieces! I’d been hoping for a chocolate orange jaffa style of smoothie drink – this was anything but. If they had simply described it as a mandarin sorbet smoothie, I’d have been much more satisfied – as it was, I felt like I’d been lied to!

Chicken Club Sandwich with chicken fillet, turkey, edam cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard sauce (7 Euro)
Chicken Club Sandwich with chicken fillet, turkey, edam cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard sauce (7 Euro)

First rule of thumb when ordering off a sandwich-only menu – always order the Club Sandwich if it’s on offer. For me, it’s all about the variety in the sandwich, with (usually) chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato, sauces, maybe some slices of cucumber, definitely some cheese…it basically ticks off all the food groups.

The chicken club at FloCafe was a little bit uneven in bits, with a chicken fillet that didn’t quite cover all four corners of the sandwich. The tomato and lettuce was extremely fresh though, and the turkey slices helped to make it slightly healthier than the usual bacon variety. With some plain potato chips/crisps on the side (curiously served with ketchup and sour cream, as though you were supposed to dip the chips in the sauces), it was quite a filling meal, and good value.

Baguette with vegetable kebab, lollo verde and olive-sweet chilli sauce, 3.50 Euro
Baguette with vegetable kebab, lollo verde and olive-sweet chilli sauce, 3.50 Euro

We also ordered a sandwich off the vegan menu – a Baguette with Vegetable Kebab. Vegan food is hard to find in Greece…and well, this explains why. The kebab was like a Quorn faux-chicken tender, but very limp and not as crunchy and crispy as it could have been. With nothing but lettuce in a soft white baguette, it made for an awfully plain sandwich without much to recommend it.

There’s not much to FloCafe, other than the fact that it’s one of the few places in a 1km stretch of the Piraeus waterfront that offers more than coffees and cocktails. If you can hold onto your hunger and walk a kilometre and a half down the waterfront back towards Athens, there’s a half dozen or more restaurants serving proper food that you can choose from. However if you’re just after a sandwich to go with your Greek coffee as you wile away hours of a sunny afternoon, FloCafe will do the job.

FloCafe is located on Marina Zeas in Piraeus (Athens), but has multiple other locations elsewhere in Greece. Check their website for more details.

Review: FOOD Str, Athens Greece

It’s really easy to think of Greece as being all souvlakis and gyros, spanakopita and horiatiki, baklava and loukoumades. A lot of restaurants and fast food joints offer those options, but let’s be honest – eating outside the boundaries of your national cuisine can be exciting, the act of which is readily practised by the younger generation who are keen to embrace global eating trends.

Our free walking tour guide around Athens, Vasilis, was a young, dynamic and engaging guide who said to us, “You obviously have to try souvlakis and gyros while you’re here, it’s our national food. But my friends and I also like to eat burgers, and the best place in Athens for great burgers at a good price is FOOD Str“.


Keen to eat where all the cool, young and hip crowd eat, we headed off to FOOD Str after our walking tour to see if it was just as good as Vasilis claimed it to be. It was quiet when we were there around 1pm, as the official lunch hour for local Greeks seems to be much later – between 2pm and 3pm.


We ordered two burgers, two soft drinks, and one serve of fries (or ‘potatoes’ as described on the menu’) to share. This came to about 14 Euro – a bit more expensive than burger meals at McDonalds, but very reasonably priced for the hand-made quality of the food here.

Fish Burger (breaded cod, beetroot, mayonnaise, in black bread coloured with cuttlefish ink), 4.80 Euro
Fish Burger (breaded cod, beetroot, mayonnaise, in black bread coloured with cuttlefish ink), 4.80 Euro

K chose the interesting Fish Burger, a strange concoction of black, purple and golden brown that looks less than appetising but this is where appearances can deceive. The fried cod fillet was crispy, crunchy and perfectly fishy, the beetroot and mayonnaise added some much needed sweetness of flavour, and the soft black-tinged bread was surprisingly soft like a brioche bun, making the perfect sandwich for the tasty fishy filling. This burger is a tad more expensive than others on the menu, but well worth the extra expense if only to try some of Greece’s excellent seafood in a burger form.

FOOD Str Burger (beef, mushrooms, crispy lettuce, red and yellow peppers, carrots, handmade tomato sauce, mayonnaise), 3.80 Euro
FOOD Str Burger (beef, mushrooms, crispy lettuce, red and yellow peppers, carrots, handmade tomato sauce, mayonnaise), 3.80 Euro

I went for a more conventional burger choice – the house burger, or FOOD Str Burger. While the mix of the beef patty itself wasn’t anything spectacular, the effect of the charcoal grill added a remarkable smoky dimension to the meat. With the sweet caramelised mushrooms and peppers, and just the right amount of fresh crisp lettuce to bring a bit of crunch to the burger, this was a real winner.

Fresh Potatoes with Blue Cheese, 2.60 Euro
Fresh Potatoes with Blue Cheese, 2.60 Euro

We shared a serve of the Fresh Potatoes with Blue Cheese – which in this instance, I imagine is a description of the fact that the potatoes are freshly cut before being fried into deliciously crispy and crunchy chips perfect for dipping into a strong blue cheese sauce. My only disappointment here is that the dish wasn’t served as I had imagined it – with a runny blue cheese dressing drizzled over the whole cone of chips. Still, I imagine this dip-on-the-side is more of a crowd-pleasing dish, as you can choose how much blue cheese to have on your chips. Personally I prefer ALL THE CHEESE…but hey, I’ve never been good at controlling what I eat!

FOOD Str is a burger joint that stands up against any other gourmet burger joint in Athens, or even in Sydney or Melbourne with their gourmet burger obsession. Burgers and fries alike are freshly made rather than having ingredients pre-prepared, giving a quality that’s hard to find elsewhere. Don’t be intimidated by the menu being in Greek – the waitress is very friendly and can provide you with an English menu on request!

FOOD Str is located at 14 Kalamiotou Street in Athens, Greece.