Yiantes (Athens, Greece)

 

Time for a review of another restaurant in Athens! Really, I went out a lot for food when I visited…the city is just full of great places to eat! This time, let’s talk about Yiantes. Yiantes is a Greek restaurant, located in the central Exarchia region,near the very touristic Plaka region, but in a slightly more off the standard-path region.

Outside Yiantes
Beautiful garden terrace, but it was too dark to make a good picture 😦

This restaurant came as a recommendation from a Greek friend of mine. Initially we just passed by to check it out, since she had mentioned that, while the place is very nice, they might not have any vegan dishes.

They did.

On the daily menu which was posted outside, one dish was specifically labelled vegan. So of course I had to get back and try that dish in the evening!

Starters at Yiantes
Starters: stuffed leaves and fava bean paste!

Yiantes has room to sit inside, but most people will probably prefer to sit outside, on the beautiful garden terrace. Even on a late October evening, the weather was pleasant enough. The terrace, or garden, is split in a ‘true’ outside part, and a part with glass walls and ceiling.  Downside is that we ate at proper Greek dining hours, so it was already getting pretty dark making it difficult to make pictures!

Rice and cabbage at Yiantes
Rice and cabbage dish

Of course we were interested in trying the vegan dish from the daily menu but the standard menu card also has several vegan options for starters. We tried the stuffed vine leaves and fava beans with spring onion and capers. We also got some freshly baked bread to go with it. Cannot go wrong with that!

There are no vegan mains on the standard menu when we visited, but the daily menu had two vegan options (only one was labelled vegan), so that turned out well for us. The first dish was a dish with Greek pasta with tomatoes. I am not sure what made this pasta specifically Greek, it was like shorter but thicker spaghetti. We also tried the rice with cabbage dish. The combination of rice and cabbage is quite common in Eastern European food I believe. It was tasty, and quite filling.

Greek pasta at Yiantes
Greek pasta with tomato sauce

I don’t believe there were any vegan desserts, but anyway, we had no more space for desserts! The service was very nice and friendly. I also enjoyed that the restaurant was not overly tourist-y, even though there were probably some tourists since the menu is also available in English and French. The atmosphere in the garden was very nice, and the food seemed pretty authentic to me, which is also a plus. However, as mentioned there are no vegan mains on the standard menu, so if you would want to eat here, check the daily specials.

 

Type of place : Greek restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pg/yiantes2000 *

I really dislike linking to Facebook since if you have no account you get annoying pop-ups all the time. However, it seems many businesses didn’t yet catch up on this.

Mama Tierra (Athens, Greece)

Mama Tierra Interior

 

Mama Tierra, or “Mother Earth” in Spanish, is a fully vegan restaurant in Athens.  It was the first meal we had in Athens, so it set the standard!

The atmosphere inside is relaxed, with jazzy music. It is not a very big place, and it was rather empty when we were there.

Menu at Mama Tierra

Mama Tierra is open for lunch and dinner, providing “healthy and delicious food for all” (their words). Where possible they use local and organic products. In fact on the menu it is mentioned they buy all veggies fresh each day and they mention which ingredients may be frozen. Apart from dining-in, there is the option for take-out, delivery, and Mama Tierra also does catering.

Sweet potato hummus at Mama Tierra
Sweet potato hummus & pita

There is enough choice on the menu without being overwhelming. Several dishes are also gluten-free. Mama Tierra serves soups, starters, salads, burgers and “ethnic” options (Greek/ Middle-Eastern, Indian and Mexican options). Of course there are desserts and drinks as well!

We started with the sweet potato hummus which is served with caramelised onions and pita bread. The hummus is very tasty, with a nice acidity.

Mousakas at Mama Tierra
Mousakas – top view – look at that bechamel layer !

After we had the mushroom burger: made with different types of mushrooms and served with vegan cheese, caramelised onions and home-made mayonnaise. The burger is served with patatas bravas and BBQ sauce. The patty itself very tasty, with nice wholegrain bread, and the vegan cheese has a proper melt going on. The BBQ sauce was good too, very smokey and a bit spicey. The patatas themselves were a bit disappointing, maybe they had been reheated, but they weren’t very crunchy.

Mushroom burger at Mama Tierra
Mushroom burger with patatas bravas and BBQ sauce

We also tried the mousakas, a traditional Greek oven dish which is normally made with layers of meat, aubergine and tomato, topped with bechamel sauce. This vegan version was made with beans and veggies in the ‘meat’ layer, and potato at the bottom. The bechamel sauce, based on coconut milk, was perfection; nice, thick, soft and creamy. Almost a bit sweet. It was also piping hot, so don’t dig in too fast 🙂

Mousakas at Mama Tierra

Mama Tierra of course also serves desserts, but too be honest we were full-up after the food and pretty tired after the travel. I guess I’ll have to get back one day to check out the desserts!

 

Type of place: Vegan Restaurant
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (Greek, English): https://www.mamatierra.gr/

Veganaki (Athens, Greece)

Bar at Veganaki

During my holidays in Athens we were staying conveniently close to an all-vegan place! I swear I didn’t plan it, but nevertheless it was a nice coincidence. Might as well use the opportunity to check it out, right?

Veganaki serves classic Greek street food – in vegan form. They are open the whole day, so you can pop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between. Veganaki serves coffee, tea, juices, beer and wine, pita wraps, sandwiches, salads, traditional savoury pies in several flavours and sweets. There are several gluten-free options available as well.

Freddo cappuccino at Veganaki
Freddo cappuccino

The café itself is quite small, there are some spaces inside and a nice terrace. However, the terrace is close to a busy street, so for seasoned big-city dwellers, or in the early morning when there’s less traffic. Inside the atmosphere is calm and cosy. The menu is available both in Greek and in English. They use fair trade coffee, and disposable and biodegradable packaging.

Cake at Veganaki
Cake with raisins!

I visited Veganaki twice, first to just check out the place and get some coffee and a piece of cake.  We tried a “freddo cappuccino”, a variation of Greek cold coffee. Freddo cappuccino is cold, foamed (plant) milk over espresso and ice. The freddo espresso is just the espresso over ice. Both of these are different from frappé, which is normally made of instant coffee. With the coffee we had a piece of home made cake with raisins. I really enjoyed the cake, the texture was very nice and fluffy.

Breakfast at Veganaki
The full breakfast table!

We returned another day to Veganaki to try the breakfast options. We had a toast with vegan cheese and tomato, a piece of courgette pie and a “lachanoulis” pita. The pita wraps and traditional pies can also be served as plates, including additional salad for a small surcharge. For drinks we had an orange juice and a mixed fruit juice, gottta work on those vitamins after all 🙂

The toast was basic and a bit dry, but that is also just the nature of toast.  The other toasts available are more common in vegan cafes; with hummus or avocado. I wanted to try the tomato-cheez version, since I used to eat those myself quite often, and they are a bit more special. I mean, vegan sandwich without hummus are pretty rare! (No hate for hummus, I love that stuff! But it is a bit of a vegan default option)

Savoury courgette pie and toasty at Veganaki
Tomato-cheez toast and a piece of courgette savoury pie

The courgette traditional pie was very nice, it was not too dry and not too soggy, good consistency. The lachanoulis pita; a pita wrap with home-made vegetable burgers, tomato, lettuce, mustard and home made vegan tzatziki, was good too. The sauce inside was just slightly spicy, which went well with the vegetable filling.

Pita wrap at Veganaki
Pita wrap! Filled with home made vegetable fritters, veggies and sauces

I really liked Veganaki, the atmosphere is nice, the food is good and very reasonably priced (especially for people travelling from Switzerland :D) and the staff is very friendly!

Toasty at Veganaki
Sunny breakfast in Athens ❤
Type of place: Greek vegan street food
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website  : https://www.facebook.com/VeganakiGR/

 

Athens – Miscellaneous

A slightly different format today! Normally I write about a single place but today we’ll do a round-up with short reviews!  I was in Athens a few weeks ago, and I visited a bunch of  different food places. I didn’t get enough material to create a full post for all of them. Still, I want to give a shout-out to all the good food I had!

Greece is not really a place that is known to be very vegan-friendly, since the food is heavy on the meat and feta, but Athens is great for vegans! There’s a bunch of really good vegetarian/vegan-only places. I wrote about a few (Cookoomela Grill ,Avocado) and there are some more posts in my draft folder waiting to be uploaded! But also at the street food places, like Kumpirista, and more ‘traditional’ eateries, like Tivoli, you can get some good vegan food. There are some traditional Greek vegan dishes, for example, dolmades (rice-stuffed vine-leaves) and spanakorizo (spinach with rice), which are often vegan.

Graffiti in Athens

Street food

 

Oven Sesame:

Oven Sesame is a street food place found in two locations in Athens. The location I visited had no space to sit inside, but a small terrace in front. They serve stuffed sesame pita, salads, sides, sweets, breakfast and juices. The vegan options are clearly marked on the menu. I tried the vegan pita, which is stuffed with grilled vegetables and pink tahini sauce, with a side of potato wedges and a lemonade. Very good!

Vegan food at Oven Sesame
Fruit smoothie, vegan sesame pita, potato wedges and pink tahini dip

Website: http://oven-sesame.com/

Kumpirista:

Home of the kumpir (baked potato )!  I spotted this place because it was next to Cookoomela Grill! Kumpir are a popular type of fast-food in Turkey (Greece and Turkey influenced each other greatly).  The (huge) potatoes are baked in an oven, cut open, partially mashed and filled with all types of toppings such as herbs, sauces and vegetables. Generally the base recipe contains butter but this is subbed for olive oil in the vegan version. The vegan kumpir on the menu is served with couscous, black beans, olives, carrots, salad, aubergine and ketchup. But you can also create your own version with the available toppings.

Kumpir at Kumpirista
Vegan baked potato with allll the toppings!

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Kumpirista-874884449329618/

 

Lukumades

Lukumades are traditional Greek sweets. Also called ‘Greek doughnuts’,  lukumades are deep-fried dough balls served in sauce. Vegan options are not marked on the menu, but ask and the staff will tell you. When I visited there were several options, like powdered sugar, dark chocolate and peanut butter sauce. I tried the peanut butter and powdered sugar version…it is so good! The place itself is pretty popular, they also serve ice cream and milkshakes, but I don’t think those are vegan.

Lukumades
Lukumades in peanut butter sauce and with powder sugar

Website (Greek, English): http://lukumades.com/

Acropolis in Athens

Restaurants/Bars

 

Tivoli

A restaurant/bar with live music, which has been around since 1974. We arrived quite early (for Greek standards) so the place was quite empty still, but it seems to be quite popular usually. We actually ended up there by accident when looking for the vegetarian restaurant called Trivoli…it was a happy accident though because those dolmades were indeed *chefs kiss* They were served warm, which was interesting since dolmades are usually served cold. They were made according to an authentic Greek recipe passed down generations. Also serves a great eggplant dip!

Starters at Tivoli
Dolmades, eggplant dip and tasty bread

Website (Greek): http://tivoli-live.gr/

 

Yiasemi

Plaka is a pedestrian area, with a lot of stairs, and a lot of bars and restaurants. It is very cute and not just for tourists. In fact, this tearoom/restaurant was recommended to me by a Greek colleague! Yiasemi is a super cute café, with a terrace and an inside sitting area. They serve drinks, snacks, food and desserts. There were several vegan snacks and some possibly vegan foods, but unfortunately when we visited they were out of a lot of stuff, like the dolmades. We tried some roasted bread with olives and grilled vegetables, which was good. The atmosphere of the place is great! Perfect to unwind after a long day of touristing about in Athens.

Snacks and drinks at Yiasemi
Seasonal fruit lemonade, coffee, snacks and a cute & cosy atmosphere

Website (English) : https://www.yiasemi.gr/

Cookoomela Grill (Athens, Greece)

We found Cookoomela via Happy Cow; most vegans know about this great website, and if you don’t go check it! It is very useful to find vegan eateries in many different cities all over the world. For my blog, I prefer to write about places that are not ‘known’ to be vegan-friendly or listed on HappyCow … everyone likes to be the first to discover and report on a cool place! Honestly, it is difficult to find really “uncharted” new places since HappyCow is pretty extensive…. #firstworldveganproblems 😀 So I don’t mind to give a longer review on a “known” vegan place once in a while **

Cookoomela Grill

Cookoomela Grill is a completely vegan street food-style eatery. They make gyros, a traditional Greek meat dish,  from mushrooms and they serve kebab made of lentils. The place itself is very small. There are a few places outside to sit, and it was very busy. I believe they do mostly take-away. Fortunately, this type of food is made to be eaten on the go!

Cookoomela grill
Mushroom ‘gyros’ on the grill

Cookoomela Grill offers a few variants of stuffed pita, fries and a salad. We tried two of the pita, the “Cookoomela Kebab”; the lentil kebab with potato, homemade tomato sauce, salad and almond cream cheese, served wrapped in a pita, and the “Cookoomela Red”, a pita with mushroom gyros, avocado, home made tomato sauce, vegan mayonnaise, salad and potatoes (I only got a blurry picture of this one, it was already pretty dark!)

Ingredients at Cookoomela Grill
Pita ingredients

Even though Cookoomela is very small, they serve vegan desserts. Cannoli (are they the new hip vegan dessert?) in two flavours: chocolate and vanilla.

Lentil kebab pita from Cookoomela Grill
Lentil ‘kebab’ pita with veggies and almond cream cheez

 

I really like the street-food style and the vegan interpretation of classic dishes of the Cookoomela Grill. It was great to see this small place so busy as well. The only downside is that there’s not so much space to sit, but the food can be eaten while walking pretty easily.

** Not an ad (I wish!)

 

Type of place: vegan street food
Completely vegan:  yes
Vegan desserts: yes !

Website (Greek, English) : http://cookoomela.gr/ 

Ice Queen Gelato (Athens, Greece)

 

Short review today! It might be a bit cold for ice cream in Switzerland (first snow of this winter has fallen!). However, if you happen to be in Athens (now, or when it is actual ice cream weather) I can recommend Ice Queen Gelato!

This ice cream shop has several vegan gelato flavours, even beyond the standard sorbets. And, while they do not have vegan cones, but they do have both vegan (bubble) waffles and vegan crêpes. They also serve drinks, like smoothies and coffee (according to HappyCow they serve soy milk). I believe they also sell some other snacks.

athens
Pretty Athens

Since Ice Queen Gelato was conveniently located near where I was staying in Athens, of course I tried both these versions. Like most gelato places, there is a small terrace where you can sit and eat, which was specifically useful in the case of the crêpes 🙂  But the waffles and ice creams are of course more portable.

Vegan ice cream at Ice Queen Gelato
Vegan ice cream flavours

The first time we visited I tried a crêpe with banana, vegan chocolate sauce and the vegan coconut ice cream. The crêpes are made with an actual crêpe maker, and they were thin like the non-vegan crêpes I remember. The ice cream itself was very good and creamy. I haven’t seen crêpes being offered as ice cream ‘vehicles’ often, but it works great.

Crepe at Ice Queen Gelato
Crêpe with ice cream with vegan chocolate sauce ❤

Ice Queen Gelato has both standard and bubble waffles, and since I never tried the latter, I made plans to return to try these special waffles!

I tried a bubble waffle with vegan hazelnut praliné, again banana (gotta get your 2 pieces of fruit per day in!) and a scoop of vegan ice cream. I have read that in some bubble waffle versions the bubbles contain sauce, that was not the case here. The waffles are a bit more tricky to eat than from a standard cone, but so, so good!

Bubble waffle at Ice Queen Gelato
Bubble waffle with ice cream and hazelnut praline sauce!

The staff was friendly, and the service good. The first time we visited they were almost closing, but they were still willing to fire up the crêpe maker (which was already turned off for the day) to provide us with vegan crêpes. Can recommend!

 

Type of place: Ice cream, café
Completely vegan: no

Website: https://www.facebook.com/IceQueenGelatoAcropolis/

Avocado (Athens, Greece)

Outside of Avocado

Avocado is a vegetarian restaurant in Athens that has been around for several years.  The founders actually started with having a yoga studio, and the food served at Avocado has a focus on health as well. A lot of the food is labelled organic, and they serve some specific macrobiotic dishes. Avocado uses local, organic and seasonal products for as far as possible. Apart from the macrobiotic food, they serve pastas, pizza, soup, noodles, wraps, burgers and more. For drinks there are smoothies, juices, wines, tea, coffee etc.

Interior at Avocado

There is some confusion on the internet whether or not Avocado is vegan or vegetarian. It is vegetarian, but they serve several vegan dishes and items that can be served vegan. On the menu card it is listed which items are vegan, gluten-free or wheat-free. I did notice some discrepancies between the online menu and the menu card in Avocado itself, so maybe there had been a recent update of dishes. For example, we tried the falafel plate which was listed as ‘can be made vegan’ in the restaurant, and as ‘vegan’ online.

Drinks at Avocado
Coconut smoothie hiding a beer!

I tried a coconut milk shake, made with coconut and almond milk. This smoothie was specifically mentioned as vegan. Some of the other drinks can be made vegan upon request (at a surcharge). I really enjoyed it, the taste was just purely coconut, which I happen to enjoy.

Spinach tart at Avocado
“Mother Earth” spinach tart topped with almonds

For starters we tried the ‘Mother Earth’, a spinach tart, and the falafel plate (made vegan).  The spinach tart is based on traditional Greek food. The spinach part and the dough were tasty, though the dough, which is made with oat, amaranth and flax seed, was quite hard and a bit chewy. The tart itself was topped with almond and some were burned. Unfortunately, the tart was clearly re-heated in the microwave since some parts were cold and others were very hot.

Falafel plate at Avocado
Falafel plate: these falafels are huge!

We were warned that the falafel plate was big, and that was no lie! We were told we could bag up what we couldn’t finish, but as we spend the whole day walking around, a doggy bag was not needed. The falafel plate in its vegan form is served with guacamole which I found a bit strange. It is served with nice thick pita and tabbouleh with capers. The falafel themselves were very good!

Black Bean Caponata at Avocado
Black Bean Caponata wrap with nachos and gauc

What was a bit surprising was that we got the starters one at the time. The mains we got both at the same time. We tried a Black Bean Caponata wrap and a Koula panini. Both are served with guacamole and nachos. (I read later on the menu for the Koula panini we could’ve chosen sweet potato flakes. Well, next time :))  The Black Bean wrap is Mexican-inspired, with grains, black beans, avocado and veggies. The Koula panini has a potato-mushroom patty, tomatoes and home-made Ceasar dressing.

Koula panini at Avocado
Koula panini, also served with guac and nachos

There are two vegan desserts, and we tried the ‘hug a tree’: a slice of apple pie topped with hazelnuts and almonds. Interestingly with a similar crust as the spinach pie. Very nice, but again reheated in such a way that parts of it were cold.  We had the dessert with a nice coffee. Avocado offers soy and almond milk, but again for a small surcharge (it is organic though).

Apple pie at Avocado
“Hug a tree” apple pie

The atmosphere at Avocado is quite relaxed, with music from the 50s-60s. Interestingly there were quite a lot of older people for lunch. The food is a bit more expensive than the norm in Athens, but overall the quality is good (except for where they failed to properly heat the food). I also liked the portion sizes; many “health”-oriented places serve smaller amounts of food in my experience.

Cappuccino at Avocado
(Organic) Soy cappuccino

The service was also good, which I found common in Athens. The servers came by several times to ask if we liked the food. Which is nice, except sometimes I just had one bite so I couldn’t really judge yet 😀 The food also came out quite fast. Minor nitpick was that the service was a bit too fast with taking the plates, which gave a bit of a rushed feeling. But overall eating at Avocado was a positive experience!

Type of place: Vegetarian/Health restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (English) : https://www.avocadoathens.com/