In Athens, we take full advantage of our proximity to water. An incredible variety of fresh fish and seafood go straight from the fishing nets into our pots and onto our grills. So naturally, we know a thing or two when it comes to seafood restaurants. One is the master of fried dishes, another grilled, while yet another on our short list is known for creative experimentation. What they have in common is supremely fresh seafood at a reasonable price (as well as a penchant for fishing nets as decoration, it seems). And they’re all located close to the sea – where else could they be? In no particular order:
Located near Anastasi Cemetery in Keratsini, this marine-themed restaurant offers a huge variety of ouzo and a daily changing menu that would impress any deep-diving seafood lover. The owners’ fishermen friends bring in whatever they’ve caught that day, which might mean mussels, shrimp, lobster or squid, as well as mackerel that the restaurant smokes in-house, tuna and other fish big and small that you can have fried or grilled to order.
Southeast of Piraeus’s port, in the neighborhood of Chatzikiriakio, lies one of Athens’ best fish taverns. As at Taxidevontas, there’s a seagoing theme to the décor here. We love the expertly grilled fish accompanied by boiled greens or seasonal salads. The chef works wonders with octopus, which is deliciously chewy and crispy at the same time. Service is fast even when the water gets rough – er, so to speak.
Charge your cellphone because you’ll need the GPS to find Kapetanios in the industrial area of Retsina in Piraeus – it’s quite confusing for non-locals. First things first: when you enter this classic fish tavern, you select your fish from the refrigerated case. Mullets come perfectly fried, crisp on the outside, juicy inside. We highly recommend the crayfish too. If you’re in the mood for soup, call to order it ahead of time.
(Editor’s note: We regret to report that Strofi is closed.) If we had to divide taverns into New Wave and Old School, Strofi, in business since 1977, would fit squarely among the latter. It’s a long drive from Athens to Perama, another industrial/working-class area, but this restaurant is a worthy destination. We love the razor clam-like petrosolines cooked in a simple lemon and oil sauce, as well as the sea urchin, so thrillingly fresh and vibrant in color and taste, like Strofi itself.
On the outside, Argoura looks like just another neighborhood tavern, but the nets in the covered courtyard hint at what the kitchen’s up to. Still, the menu is full of surprises: mussels with seaweed and lemon sauce, prawns with fava beans and arugula and green salad with a sea urchin dressing. The eel is a masterpiece. If you love your seafood untouched by heat, you’ll find plenty of carpaccios and marinated seafood dishes to choose from. The bulk wine is one of the best we’ve ever had.