Bios in Athens’ Keramikos neighborhood officially opened in 2003, but it all began two years earlier, when the Bios Cultural Organization was first founded as an audiovisual, electronic music festival held in various warehouses near central Athens.
Following his instincts, Vassilis Charalambidis, the founder of Bios, decided to refurbish a beautiful Bauhaus-style building – a former hardware store – right on the corner of Pireos and Salaminos streets to give the festival and organization a permanent home.
This innovative project had an immense impact on Athens, and very soon Bios became a kind of landmark and meeting point for creative young Athenians with an inquiring mind and a special love for their city. Its main goal over the past 25-odd years has been to promote contemporary arts, new technologies and creative, free thinking.
In its 2,000-square-meter space, Bios has hosted momentous theater productions, live gigs and DJ sets, parties, exhibitions, markets, workshops and festivals – for many years, the focus was on cultural, rather than food-related, events. Yet the spacious bar on the terrace with a breathtaking view of the Acropolis Hill has long received accolades; for over a decade it’s been the preferred spot for locals looking to enjoy a summer drink and cool breeze.
In 2014, Bios acquired a larger space just up the road, which from then on hosted most of its big events and concerts. That freed up the luscious ground floor at Bios, which was redecorated to house Tesla Bar, a cozy and cool all-day bar-café with a loft aesthetic and vintage vibes. The high-ceilinged walls are decorated with luminous retro signs and logos, and the vast space is populated with large tables and classic classroom chairs from another era. They serve coffee, drinks and cocktails as well as finger food and snacks all day long, until late at night.
A couple of years ago, Bios embraced a new project – food-related this time – called Bios Home Kitchen. The first floor was transformed into a cozy 70s-style living room with an open kitchen space in order to host pop-up restaurants. Last winter it hosted Beef, a meat-focused project run by young chefs Gogo Deloyianni and Dimitris Papaionannou, who met each other at last year’s Greek Master Chef program.
For Gogo, her passion for food and cooking was so strong she quit her career as a lawyer and went back to school, this time to become a chef. She left Athens, moved back to Argos, her hometown in the Peloponnese, enrolled in the culinary school there and turned her parents’ kitchen into a workshop for the two years that she stayed.
When designing the menu she thought of her grandmother’s cooking.
After a successful run at the Home Kitchen, Gogo decided to extend her stay with a new personal project that she named Taverna. The concept is simple and based on Gogo’s experiences back in Argos. Her philosophy of cooking is to spotlight the ingredients, and thus is very seasonal, as well as regional. When designing the menu she thought of her grandmother’s cooking and what she ate at her house as a child – nothing fancy, just simple, fresh ingredients full of flavor, that evoke childhood memories. In other words, good, old comfort food.
They use handpicked vegetables, and the cheeses and all the regional ingredients are supplied directly from small producers, mostly from around Argos. The affordable menu is short but everything is good: six basic appetizers with some staple ingredients from the Peloponnese, like sfela cheese and fava (yellow split pea puree) from Feneos, a region famous for its legumes.
As for the main course, you have the freedom to create your own plate by combining options from the three categories offered: meat, starch, and toppings. We tried delicious meatballs, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, with plenty of chopped fresh mint and just a hint of garlic. The fried potatoes were heavenly good; whole potatoes, skin on, boiled then cut into uneven chunks and finally fried and sprinkled with sea salt and dried oregano. The pork sausage is handmade and the marrow bones are so incredibly tasty, especially with the traditional sourdough bread that is grilled and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. The goges, handmade pasta served with melted fresh butter and grated, dried myzithra cheese is at the top of the comfort food list for many Greeks, and lives up to expectations.
If you are a group of four, go ahead and order the slow cooked pork, roasted for 14 hours to create the perfect crackling on the outside and tender, juicy meat on the inside. Simply seasoned with sea salt and oregano, this kind of roast is known as gournopoula, a staple dish in the Peloponnese. As for dessert, there are two traditional options: custardy galaktoboureko with yogurt ice cream, and kserotigana, crispy fried pancake rolls drizzled with honey and served with parfait ice cream – both are very delicious.
On the weekends, they serve brunch between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The menu is based on the same philosophy: a few classic plates prepared with top-notch ingredients. You’ll find classic dishes like fried eggs on spinach leaves sautéed with tomato paste and their handmade creamy white cheese; scrambled eggs with cured pork; graviera cheese and grilled sweet red peppers; handmade pies; tiganites, Greek-style pancakes drizzled with grape molasses; and yogurt with fresh fruit, nuts and chunks of pasteli (the traditional honey and sesame seed bar).
Seating is available on the refurbished first floor, which is divided into three separate areas/rooms, and on the terrace, half of which is covered while the other half is open. (A new winter bar with a panoramic view of Acropolis recently opened on the terrace, just in time for the winter months.) On a beautiful day, reserve a table upstairs on the terrace and enjoy a long brunch or late lunch and fresh cocktails under the Greek blue sky with a view of Athens and the Acropolis Hill.