Little compares to the comfort of welcoming sweetness into life in the form of homemade-style, old fashioned and mouthwatering Greek desserts. Whether it’s Asia Minor-inspired kadaifi with kaimaki, a chocolate fondant pastry or a bowl of vintage classic Chicago ice cream, desserts infuse our spirits with indisputable joy, especially when they’re artfully made by bakers who have been practising dessert magic for decades or in some cases for over a century. Here are five of the Greek capital city’s most unmissable paradises for the sweet-toothed.
Ellinikon (26 Patriarchou Ioakim, Kolonaki)
Opened in 1946, this patisserie is known and loved for its ‘sokolatina’ chocolate fondant cakes as well as many other sweets such as ice cream, chocolates, meringues, koulourakia and voutimata cookies. It’s also a popular choice for ordering wedding and birthday cakes, seasonal sweets like powdered-sugar-covered kourabiedes and Christmas pudding.
Hara (339 Ano Patissia)
Hara is particularly famous for its ice cream, and especially the all-time classic Chicago (chocolate and vanilla scoops generously topped with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, a crisp cookie, and flaked almonds) – the recipe followed here has remained the same for 49 years! It’s also known for its ‘ice cream bicycle’ service, which serves its ice cream at special events, and for its delightfully old fashioned ekmek with kaimaki ice cream.
Assimakopouli Bros (82 Harilaou Trikoupi, Exarcheia)
With a loyal clientele that spans three generations (the patisserie is amongst the oldest in Athens, having opened in 1915), this is where you’ll find Greek classics like pastries, traditional tsoureki, homemade ice cream and chocolates, cakes, rizogalo sprinkled with cinnamon and much more. The pies and bombes (sandwich mounds) are also top quality.
Mike (9 Dim. Soutsou & Dorilaiou, Mavili Square)
Pronounced Mike with an accent on the ‘e’, this is one of the characteristic spots in Athens both for its perfect cheese pies, made with buttery, flaky filo and creamy hot feta cream, but also for its excellent pastries and tarts. From syrupy baba au rum to rich sokolatina, lemon meringue or strawberry tarts and delicious ice cream sold during the summer months, this is the most flavoursome gem of Mavili Square.
Varsos (5 Kassaveti, Kifissia)
Initially opened in 1892 in central Athens, vintage Varsos became the go-to patisserie/bakery/cafe for anyone visiting or living in the northern suburbs since 1922. Unlike any of the above-mentioned patisseries, Varsos has never tried to dramatically modernise its appearance, thus retaining a retro charm that is rarely found today.
Another factor that differentiates it significantly is both its large size and huge variety of (only homemade) goods like creams and rice milk, meringues of different shapes and sizes, yogurt, every variety of cookies, tartlets, pastries, pies, delicious ice creams and unique sorbets (like fig), bombes that can be filled for you in-house or sold to be prepared at home, various boxes of sugared nuts for baking, jam ‘leather’ rolls, chocolate and nut-stuffed tsoureki croissants.