A Better Meal than Gyros and Souvlaki

Most people who visit Athens - whether for a night before heading off to an island or for a week in the city - opt to stay somewhere close to Plaka. The area is charming, walkable and in the shadow of the Acropolis. There's plenty of life and for someone new to Greece, it makes for an easy introduction to the city of Athens.

With the area's popularity comes a touristy side. Food is often marked up and restaurants tend to focus on the more common Greek fare... gyros, souvlaki, spanakopita and moussaka - Greek meals known worldwide. Unfortunately, that means that a vast majority of tourists miss out on more typical Greek meals. They tend to stick to restaurants with pictures of food and marked up prices. It's a shame because there's much more to be found.

I'll fill you in on a restaurant that doesn't fit this bill. While it's not necessarily a secret, it appeals to Greek tastes, has reasonable prices and is off the beaten path for tourists. The restaurant is Mani Mani.

Now... let's start with some background. What does Mani mean? Mani is a region in the Peloponnese in Greece. As someone told me in Karpathos, it is a hard region with hard people - in part because of tough geography and climate. So, Mani Mani focuses on food from this region. In fact, you'll find more dishes like rooster and less (none) like souvlaki.

Anything you order, be it an appetizer or a main course, can be ordered as a half or full order. We started by splitting three appetizers - haloumi (the best we had in Greece), typical Mani sausages with orange essence and a type of fried dough with a local hard cheese. We then ordered dishes that both centered on rooster - my wife had a Greek pasta with rooster, asparagus, mushrooms and sundried tomato and I had rooser served on top of a small Greek pasta. Both were great. Add a glass of wine and our meal was under 30 Euros, less than we would've spent at a touristy restaurant.

Mani Mani is only 5 minutes by foot from the new Acropolis Museum but feels like it is a world away. Located at Falikarou 10 in Makrigiani, Mani Mani is on the 1st (2nd floor) of a restored building. You won't spot it if you aren't looking for it so look for the street level sign and the lit up windows up top.

No comments: