This has to be the most memorable dish of our Athens trip. Taverna Bairaktaris serves honest to goodness Greek food minus the frills. It is an institution among the locals and has been around since 1879 and is the only restaurant in Athens that can say it was around during the first Modern Olympic games. We found it by following where the locals were eating. Their humble pork souvlaki has legendary status with the locals.
This is a complete and tasty meal in a small pita wrap which is super affordable and can be bought quickly in a take-away counter outside the taverna, slightly cheaper because you wont be taking up precious table space. After taking away the souvlaki, you can eat it sitting in the sunny square of Monastiraki.
But for only +0.50 Euro you can eat it sitting in the restaurant. We sat in the shade of the taverna’s awnings because it was way too hot (skin-cancer-sun-burn-inducing hot)
I tasted the beef option, but I loved the pork best because it was so flavourful. For those who are unable to eat pork, there are of course chicken and beef options. Our friends ordered the mix gyros and skewered meats. They just asked to replace any pork items with beef and immensely enjoyed their meal.
GOOD TO KNOW: I ordered the Pork Gyro and ended up with this open pita platter. Personally I found the wrap easier to eat and scrumptious, because you taste all the flavours in one bite. Oh and there are fries inside the Souvlaki. A wrap with fries inside bound to be amazing!
The difference between the terms Gyro and Souvlaki are quite confusing. I asked TD’s Greek friend and to be honest I still don’t understand. You can read this interesting discussion to see what I mean.
We capped our meal off with Greek coffee served in a small cup. We asked the waiter first what Greek coffee was (we meant what made it special or different from other coffees) and guess what he said? “It’s like Turkish coffee.” Hahaha! We were surprised that he would answer us that way.
Greek coffee is a strong brew, served with foam on top and the grounds in the bottom of the cup. – About.com
We loved the pork souvlaki so much and we were also trying not to spend too much on food so we definitely went back to Bairaktaris. This time we enjoyed it with cold Greek beer, and extra order of fries and…
…Saganaki! I cannot believe TD only introduced me to this foodgasmic dish on our last day! I might have eaten it every day if I had tried it sooner! Perfect for cheese lovers like me. Saganaki is basically fried cheese. It was served with fresh tomatoes and lemon. I made sure to have salty cheese, juicy sweet tomatoes, and a squeeze of sour lemon in each bite. It was foodgasmic indeed!
I recommend Bairaktaris if you are looking for simple Greek food. The ambiance of the place is homey with walls inside covered with photos of famous guests. The restaurant shows its age and it’s so popular with locals and tourists alike that, if you sit in the restaurant during peak times, service can take a while and the wait staff can get a bit stress-out. They are so much nicer during off-peak. But in Greece, things are not done in a hurry, so make sure you have sufficient time to enjoy the bustle of Monastiraki while waiting for your food if you decide to go. If you are in a hurry, then order a souvlaki takeaway counter and satisfy your hunger immediately.
I am sure there are better restaurants out there, but I appreciate value-for-money experiences and Bairaktaris was affordable, delicious, and has quite the history.
I want to leave you with this video to give you a better idea of Bairaktaris.
Monastiraki Sq. 2, Monastiraki, Athens, 10555 Greece (green facade)
credit cards accepted