To Kafeneiou Tou Rizou: An old-fashioned but new-era urban cafe in Athens

To Kafeneiou Tou Rizou

To Kafeneiou Tou Rizou is not only located in one of the most beautiful parts of Thissio, next to the small square of Jacqueline de Romigi, but is also the oldest cafe in this area of Athens.

To Kafeneiou Tou Rizou was opened as a family shop in the early 1930s when urban coffee shops were not only places of relaxation and entertainment but also places where the popular culture of the turbulent interwar years was formed.

It changed hands and names and closed for some periods, but a coincidence led to its revival almost 100 years after its first opening.

More specifically, Michalis Rizos (known for the beloved cafe Black Duck in Klathmonos Square), who operates the cafe today, knew nothing about its past when he wanted to rent it. He quickly discovered its past when brainstorming a name with the co-owners, so he decided to keep the name and character while giving it a fresh breath.

Today's identity has the nostalgia of old Athens, solid artistic elements, and modern influences.

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From the outside, the appearance of the historic building has been restored without altering its special aesthetic characteristics inside.

The marble tables are combined with wooden chairs, and the walls are full of original paintings by Greek painters, from Yannis Tsarouchis to Andreas Ioannidis, and photos of great musicians, such as Mikis Theodorakis, Giannis Poulopoulos and Lefteris Papadopoulos.

The art is complemented by antique furniture and collectibles, all chosen by the artist Dora Rizou (Michalis' mother).

As for the music, depending on the time, the cafe can play rebetiko, jazz, and more, pleasantly adding to the atmosphere.

Of course, the most magical place, regardless of the season, is outside: pots that smell of musk, plants in full bloom, shade from the trees, sun and cool air, and a view of the Acropolis—pure paradise!

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At To Kafeneiou Tou Rizou, everything starts with refined Greek coffee, or blends and fine teas with infusions.

Next to them, homemade sweet quince, handmade karidopita, and other delicious sweets are on offer. If you do not want something sweet, mezes are available as soon as midday.

In the kitchen, every material used is more than researched and tested. They even searched for potatoes for a whole year!

As a rule, the flavours are Greek, and the dishes are traditional, with modern touches.

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The mutton biftekia are fluffy and delicious, and the mild black garlic mayonnaise that accompanies them goes well with it.

The salad with winter vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli) and avocado cream is an original combination of particular interest.

At the same time, the sea pastourma made from cod and the corresponding spices is a really pleasant surprise.

The same goes for the extra crispy soutzoukakia served with rice and the melt-in-the-mouth kleftiko pork with peppers and cheese, which is especially delicious.

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Marinated anchovy with kritamo, velvety fava beans with capers, handmade dolmades, and, of course, golden fried potatoes with sour myzithra on top are some more options that ideally accompany the carefully selected list of wines and spirits from all over Greece.

The epilogue rightfully belongs to the prices, which are very reasonable for the quality offered and the location of the cafe.

Info: Akamandos 2, Thissio, tel.: 210 3457 825
Price: 15-20 euros per person


Zoi Papafotiou is a columnist for Olive Magazine. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.


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