If you’ve been out on the prowl in Athens until the crack of dawn, you may have experienced the soothing waft of oven-baked aroma coming from a bakery that’s preparing its goods for the day; like the pied piper, it lures you in to buy still-warm freshly baked bread, pies with interesting fillings, buttery, crisp-chewy koulouria (bread rings) and more. A good Fourno (bakery) is definitely worth queuing up in, and the best in Athens have a rich history and use top quality ingredients, plus great recipes that guarantee loyal lines of a hungry clientele.
At Christmas time those in the know head straight to this bakery for a box of bite-sized, melt-in-your-mouth melomakarona honey cookies – the box needs to be big as they are very addictive. On Clean Monday the bakery makes a crisp, fluffy lagana bread that often runs out by midday, and any other time of the year it sells up to 20 varieties of bread, including black, heavy German style breads as well as gluten-free options. They also serve pies. The staff are very helpful and friendly.
INFO: Deinokratous 59, Kolonaki
Creative: Mama Psomi
Former thespians and dedicated parents, the owners of Mama Psomi (married couple Giorgos and Rallous) have developed quite a fan-base with their excellent breads. Wholewheat with prozimi, Zeas flour bread, bulgur wheat bread and walnut bread are just some of the fresh, tasty products they’re known for – another specialty is a variety of delicious kourou-style or sfoliata pies with unique fillings, and healthy koulouri cookies with honey, spices, tahini, cocoa, nuts and seeds. Piano-playing clients are welcomed to sit down and play, and sometimes the owners’ talented son plays too.
INFO: 42-44 Zaharitsa St, Koukaki
With its own stone mill located within the Pangrati bakery, Pnyka is so accomplished in bread-making that its founder, Dimitris Kotsaris, gave a talk at Harvard about the health benefits of well-made loaves. Kotsaris spent many years travelling the world to research the best grain varieties for flour. It’s most known for its whole-wheat loaf with hard and soft wheat, oats and barley, while its whole-wheat and semolina loaf and its cheese pie (with hand-made filo, feta and béchamel in the Exarcheia store) are also popular.
INFO: 13 Pratinou, Pangrati, 24 Petraki in Syntagma and 26 Tositsa in Exarcheia. They also have a store in Vienna!
Located in the tranquil Makryianni area just 10 minutes walk from the Acropolis, Takis bakery has become famous among foodies for its exciting varieties of breads (they sell around 30 types, from classic prozymi, whole-wheat and French baguettes to breads with turmeric, corn, walnuts or fig. There is always a queue in the tiny store but waiting is a pleasure as one lets the eyes feast on all the hand-made, fresh produce- beyond bread there are delectable shortbread cookies with lavender, sugar and salt, American-style cakes with creamy fillings and frosting, koulouri-bread rings, sandwiches and the bakery’s famous tsoureki bread with mastic. On Clean Monday the queue coils out of the shop and up the road. TIP: Right across Takis is Drupes and Drips, (run by the Takis family) which serves healthy juices and snacks during the day and transforms into a cicchetti paradise in the afternoons, offering a delectable choice of cold cuts, cheeses, breads (of course) and pickled fish among other toppings, accompanied by Greek and other wines, prosecco or distilled spirits. INFO: Misaraliotou 14.
Eastern Twist: Stavropoulos Bakery
This is the only bakery in town where most of the produce is inspired from Constantinople – fluffy Armenian as well as Politiko tsoureki bread (including one stuffed with chocolate), 15 types of koulouri bread rings (including ones with orange, olive oil, mastic, walnuts, black sugar and cinnamon), tahini pies, kifel (Turkish croissants filled with chocolate), brioche breads and more classic breads like corn bread, seed bread and horiatiko village bread. INFO: 4 Gamveta, Athens.