Café Boheme • Kolonaki • Bar/Café/Restaurant
Romantic lighting and lace curtains beckon passers-by into this cozy retreat, warmed up by natural materials and a low-key, semi-rustic decor. Comfort food - like fried Norwegian cod with pureed potatoes and boiled greens - is served at either the small tables or in the two ample nooks with large wood tables and couch seating reserved for larger parties. The Greek-English ownership is reflected in the mix of Mediterranean standards like chickpeas in tomato sauce and more international flavors such as the baked apple dessert topped with vanilla ice-cream and rose sauce. A bar stretches along one brick wall, serving up London bar cocktails, including champagne-based drinks like the Honeyberry Fizz and refreshing strawberry daiquiris. The crowd mostly includes well-heeled Athenians still in officewear or spruced up for dates. Live-music nights, including a funk band, may boost its rep as a bar. By day, it's a good spot to read the paper solo with a coffee and croissant, or for a discreet tête-à-tête.
Mon-Sat 8.30am-midnight. €1 Omirou 36, tel: 210 360 8018
Booze • Downtown • Bar
Vodka with fresh lemon juice is the specialty in this bar that's housed in a 19thcentury building surrounded by linen shops. It feels like a successful party most weekend nights, as crowds squeeze down from the upstairs bar to the newer high-ceilinged gallery below. The gallery room features its own bar and a massive chandelier made of preserved "diples" (dough cookies). The year-round establishment is the site for ongoing exhibits and shows. By day, patrons dip in to have a coffee and set up their laptops on its massive wood table.
Daily 10am-midnight. Kolokotroni 57, tel: 210 324 0944, boozecooperativa.com
Dasein Coffee Art & Spirits • Exarchia • Café
It's not just the usual smoke, but also ideas and art that float around this highceilinged hangout with a rigorous weekly schedule of philosophy, literature, free films, widescreen sports, music, and art. Beyond the huge wooden swingingdoor entrance, two enormous black-and-white, celebrity-filled photo collages by local graffiti artists Carpe Diem set a creative tone. Arty and mainstream clientele chat at the bar, at street-side window tables, and on big black couches while nursing mochachinos, straight scotch, or imported beer. Food is limited to the likes of simple toasted sandwiches and stark nachos, but coffee is served 'til late. Things get hopping on weekends after 10pm.
Daily 11am-1am. € - 2. Solomou 12, Exarchia Square, tel: 210 384 1857, dasein.gr
Fasoli • Exarchia • Restaurant/Taverna
Though the food and prices are taverna-like, it's the place's quirky sense of style - with lamps made of clothespins and disco tunes pumping - that makes this eatery so hip. The new branch's glass-walled corner location, showcasing an open kitchen and split-level interior, lights up the block. The 30ish-to-40ish crowd often fill tables for lunch or dinner (after 8:30pm) to enjoy the red house wine, a wide array of salads, and light, inspired Greek classics, including eggplant or fava bean dip. The chef applies special touches to some dishes, like a drizzling of balsamic vinegar sauce here or a shaving of parmesan cheese there. Top off the meal with a light panacotta, drenched in your choice of sauce.
Mon-Sat 1:30pm-12:30am. € 3. Ippokratous and Navarinou Sts. (also a branch at 54 Emmanuel Benaki St.), tel: 210 360 3626
Hell's Kitchen • Kotzia Square • Cafe
The flames periodically flare as the chef prepares dishes in the open kitchen, but Athenians find this small corner hangout heavenly. Located behind Athens' Town Hall, this minimalist joint has big windows and a colorful mural. It is one of the few places in town serving breakfast, with six omelets available till 6pm. By night, a DJ spins, and you can have a drink (including inspired mojitos), a meal of salads, sandwiches, or heartier fare from the New York inspired menu, or munch on a salad buffet around schoolroom-like tables.
Times vary; call ahead to make sure it will be open.
€ 2. Agisilaou 6B, tel: 210 346 2077