Award winning Gods’ Restaurant serves up Greek delicacies surrounded by history and myths, hence its name
By Chris Chagaris
Take a stroll amid the many restaurants lining the block along Makrigianni Street in a busy section of Athens, Greece and you will come across one in particular whose name evokes the city’s ancient flavor. Award winning Gods’ Restaurant, in the shadow of the Acropolis and the Parthenon perched atop it, offers a plethora of Greek delicacies and beverages with year round indoor and outdoor dining.
Partaking of the latter, I was pleasantly struck by the generous mix of tourists from different parts of the globe blended with a sprinkling of locals, as everyone enjoyed the common language of the joy of good food and drink.
The eatery opened in 2000, and has been thriving ever since. Nikos Falias, Public Relations Manager of Gods’ Restaurant, brother of owner Vaggelis and son of owner and founder, Giorgios, explained the origins of its name. “We are in the land of light, of gods, myths and heroes, just a few steps from the Parthenon, (which is) the temple of the goddess Athena, a symbol of democracy and prosperity.” The restaurant has won accolades in its native Greece, such as the Golden Winter Taste and Quality Award three years in a row from both a prominent Greek newspaper and magazine. It also garnered the 2017 and 2018 Gold Award of Quality and Taste from prominent Greek website www.estiatoria.gr. To top it all off, the eatery was also honored at the 2018 Hellenic Gastronomic Conference. It has also been recommended by noted travel writer Rick Steves and travel guide Lonely Planet.
The senior Falias had honed his culinary expertise, according to Nikos, as the cook, manager, and co-owner of another restaurant in Athens’ famed Plaka district. “His dream though was to create his own restaurant, close to the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum, which was about to get built some years later,” he said. The dream became a reality, still delighting tourists and locals alike. Indeed, the restaurant is only steps away from each of those landmarks.
Gods’ Restaurant also offers indoor dining on each of its brightly appointed two floors. Menu items are carefully chosen to compliment the seasons, and for optimal flavor. “One reason for sure (for what goes on the menu) is the popularity of some plates, though they have to be in season,” said Vaggelis. “For example, we don’t make recipes with cabbage in summertime, because that specific vegetable is much better in winter.” Case in point is the classic Greek delicacy, dolmades. The dish, which I ordered as a main course and delighted my taste buds, traditionally consists of grape vine leaves with egg and lemon sauce, stuffed with beef and rice. However, in winter, cabbage is substituted for the vine leaves, as that particular vegetable is fresher that time of year.
“We add or remove a few plates two to three times a year,” he added. “Generally, we have some standard options, such as the Greek style of lasagna, moussakas. But, we try to change a bit of our menu so that the regular customers find something different every year.” Souvlaki, the well known dish consisting of meat skewers, and the classic Greek salad are included in the roster of menu mainstays. Tourists are a constant, hence these favorite dishes remain. Likewise for classic Greek desserts. Fresh fruit, such as watermelon, is offered after dinner to help clear the palate. Karidopita (walnut and chocolate cake) or the classic sweet that I indulged in, baklava (phyllo with honey, walnuts, almonds and pistachio) are favorite confections that are always offered.
What would a palate pleasing meal be without a wide selection of drinks to choose from to accompany it? “We have a great list of wines, and they’re all Greek!” exclaimed Nikos. “There are quality wines everywhere but we don’t think that someone is coming to Greece to try a French or Spanish one … Our wines come from all over the country, from Crete to Macedonia, from the islands up to the holy mountains and the monasteries of Meteora and Agion Oros of Northern Greece.
“And then we have many Greek beers, from local microbreweries; excellent coffee and generally big drinks with cocktails, whiskies, everything. We also have, as a part of our restaurant on the same street, a cocktail bar/café named Old School, so we use the same drinks menu (there).” Old School offers some snacks and traditional Greek plates, said Vaggelis. “But, the base is drinks and a good atmosphere, (encompassing) music and décor,” he added.
It’s clear that the brothers, along with their mom Maria and guided by the spirit of their dad and his vision, are passionate about not only their cuisine but imparting a uniquely Hellenic atmosphere to their guests. “We are very proud of having this family restaurant,” said Vaggelis. “Through our business, we try to promote our family’s values and Greece’s culture and tradition, so we are very proud of being here, the most historical spot in the whole world … proud of being here 18 years and we go on.”
Nikos echoed his brother’s sentiments. “We treat our customers like family members, not like tourists,” he said. “We want our guests to feel like they are in an ancient Greek symposium, alongside Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We want them to leave with a nice and complete Greek experience.” That personal touch, a flavorful menu, and a uniquely Greek atmosphere comprise the winning combination that makes Gods’ Restaurant endure.
23-27 Makrygianni Street Athens
Attica, Greece 11742