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We know that there’s a trend away from gluten and carbs these days, and all we have to say to that is: more for us! In Athens, bread and pies still form the foundation, if the not the substance, of many a meal – breakfast especially. Make like a local and start your day off right with cheese pie or koulouri from one of our top picks. (These places are also perfect for a pick-me-up later in the day.)

Pnyka bakery, photo by Manteau Stam

1. Pnyka
Beloved bread proselytizer Dimitris Kotsaris opened the original location of his bakery in 1981. Pnyka sets itself apart from the chains that have taken over Athens in the last two years through its methods and its commitment to using quality ingredients. It’s known for its hearty whole-grain loaves, made from flour the bakery mills itself at the headquarters in Pagrati, but our favorite is the spanakopita, which is peerless in a city full of spinach pies.

Lagana bread, photo by Lucia Pescaru/Shutterstock.com

2. Takis
Located in residential Koukaki, this bakery is famous for its breads, cheese pies and tsoureki. Customers start lining up the night before Lent to get their hands on Takis’s lagana, the focaccia-like bread sprinkled with sesame seeds that’s eaten to mark the beginning of the holiday. The bakery’s flavorful vasilopita, a cake eaten during New Year’s, is a reason to visit at the end of the year, but Takis is great any day of the week, any time of year.

Ariston, photo by Nikos Katsaros

 

3. Ariston
This bakery lives up to its name, “excellence” in Greek. It’s been run by the same family since it opened 1910 in this very location, and in the century-plus of its existence, Ariston has perfected the art of making pies. There are at least 15 varieties on offer every day, the top seller of which is the kouro, half-moon shaped, crumbly, butter-rich dough encasing a rich filling of feta.

Koulouri, photo by Manteau Stam

 

4. To Koulouri tou Psyri
Koulouri, the plain, sesame-studded circular bread, is the preferred breakfast of many Athenians. This bakery, which opened in the late 1990s, supplies most of the koulouri stands in town. Back then, it was the go-to place for late-night revelers to refuel. Open virtually 24/7, it still makes a great stop after a night out drinking or to take the edge off the morning after.

Peinirli at Peinirli Ionias, photo by Nikos Katsaros

 

5. Peinirli Ionias
Peinirli, the yeasty boat-shaped bread with the buttery, cheesy filling, came to Greece from the Turkish shores of the Black Sea in the 1920s and has been beloved by Greeks ever since. The owner of the takeaway joint Peinirli Ionias got his recipe from his grandfather and bakes the bread in a wood-fired oven.

(photos by Manteau Stam, Lucia Pescaru/Shutterstock.com and Nikos Katsaros)

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