Literary cafés and chocolateries in Athens April 23 2015


Literary Cafés of Athens
Where better to sample of a slice of Athens’ bygone past than one of the beautifully preserved historic cafés and chocolateries? The most historic Athenian cafés congregate around Panepistimiou Boulevard. This is the neighborhood where Henry Miller discussed the ideas that made up the Colossus of Maroussi, where Melina Mercouri would spend much of her leisure time with good friends, and that the MacFarlands frequent in Patricia Highsmith’s novel the Two Faces of January.

Café Zonar’s and Brazilian, side by side but perennial rivals, have been the favorite meeting point for artists, journalists and authors, for many years. Zonar’s has been recently refurbished and is back to its former glory but most of the original furnishing and decoration has been lost. Enjoying a café au lait and croissant on a shady pavement table chez Zonar’s is one of the ultimate Athenian experiences, and even though the prices are totally over the top, it is worth splurging once in a while.

Café Brazilian is transplanted to 6 Valaoritou Street, but still retains the atmosphere of a literary café, its discreet charm is still just that little bit classier than the more ostentatious Zonar’s. The pastry case reveals an eye-catching procession, including their signature Pouding au caramel.

Big Olive guides a Walking Tour around Athens’ literary café’s. Take in the haunts of writers from Henry Miller to Laurence Durrell, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis; enjoy a cup of coffee or raise a glass to their words and works.

Chocolateries in Athens
Another historical establishment is Aristokratikon chocolaterie, this is where Maria Callas used to buy pistachio clusters, while Jackie Kennedy had a weakness for rose scented Turkish delights and Grace Kelly had a preference for caramel coated peanuts.

Chocolat Constantino is hidden back on an arcade on Sophocleous Str., but don’t let that stop you seeking out this small, local business that creates some of the most delicious handmade chocolates in town. The bonbons here are lovely (classic ganaches, pralines, marzipan) and can be very inexpensive (€4 for 8).

Meanwhile, the dark side of chocolate (Perhaps the smallest café – chocolaterie in Athens) has been a fabulous new addition to our city’s exploding coffee/chocolate scene. Using bold flavors (lime, rosemary, basil, allspice, cardamom) and diverse textures for his chocolates, chocolatier Aristotle Panagiotaros is equally known for his wicked hot chocolate. Beware: The chocolate aroma when you enter the store might knock you over!

Café Brazilian
10, Valaoritou Street; 00302103622845;

Café Zonar’s
9, Voukourastiou Street; 210 3211158 – 3211182

7, Voulis Street; 00302103234373;

Chocolat Constantino
4, Sofokleous Street; 00302103243931

The dark side of chocolate
49, Solonos Street, 00302103392348

Written by: Nicolas Nicolaides
Photo: Katerina Nikakis

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