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Looking for a great place to eat in Athens that's also a showcase for Greek foods, olive oils and wines?

Yoleni's Deli
Yoleni's Deli
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Located in the Kolonaki / Lykavittos area of Athens (address: 9 Solonos St.), Yoleni's Greek Gastronomy Center is much more than a restaurant.

Greek deli

When we entered the multi-floor building, we passed through a traditional Greek grocery store stocked with more than 1,000 artisanal and organic products from 250 small Greek farms and local producers.

A blackboard sign specified what we'd find on each floor. The lower level is the location for wine-tastings. Participants can taste up to 20 wines by the glass, as a sommelier describes each wine and which foods pair well with it.

The first-floor restaurant L'Entrecôte, Café de Paris serves Greek and international dishes, including steak from Greek farms.

Olive oil-tasting

The floor above offers olive oil-tastings. Many of the extra-virgin olive oils are from Kalamata, Greece.

In Yoleni's cooking classes, participants prepare and eat Mediterranean dishes such as chicken with pasta and salad, using several of the ingredients sold in the deli.

Greek cheeses
Greek cheeses
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

What impressed us the most about the deli was the incredible selection of Greek cheeses. Our mouths watered as we viewed the wheels, chunks and wedges of cheese, ranging from feta and mizithra to cave-aged graviera, which is similar to Swiss gruyère cheese.

Thyme honey

Neatly arranged bottles of marinated organic olives, spoon sweets made from local fruits including watermelon, fig marmalade, wine vinegars and extra-virgin olive oils filled the shelves opposite the cheese counter. Friendly cashier, Antonis Douramanis answered our questions about the products on display.

The many varieties of Greek honey surprised us—thyme honey with the honeycomb in the jar, chestnut honey, eucalyptus honey and orange blossom honey—to name a few.

Organic eggs on sauteed spinach with pink peppercorns
Organic eggs on sautéed spinach with pink peppercorns
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Brunch menu

Hungry from viewing all the appetizing items in the deli, we entered the sunny, ground-floor café patio for brunch. (The restaurant also offers a delivery menu.)

We enjoyed strapatsada—scrambled slow-cooked organic eggs, cooked with tomato, feta cheese and Florina red pepper, as we admired the old scales and folk art decorating the brick and stucco walls.

Equally tasty were the slow-cooked organic eggs, served over sautéed spinach spiked with pink peppercorns. Freshly baked leavened bread accompanied both egg dishes.

Fresh-baked pita

As we sipped fresh-squeezed orange juice and listened to Greek background music, we reviewed Yoleni's menu. Should we order the carob pies with Cretan aromatic herbs and greens or the chicken, wild mushroom, rosemary and metsovone cheese pita from Metsovo, served with a Greek yogurt dip?

Mykonos goat cream cheese and caramelized onion pita with tomato and olive spread
Mykonos goat cream cheese and caramelized onion pita with tomato and olive spread
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Instead, we decided to share two dishes made from pitas freshly baked in a special oven in the deli.

A mixture of Greek white cheese accented with freshly ground black pepper and oregano filled the handmade cheese pita from Thrace. It was served on a wooden paddle with a delicious tomato and olive spread.

The onion pita from Mykonos was stuffed with a flavorful combination of goat cream cheese and caramelized onions. Served on a marble slab, it was also accompanied by the delectable tomato and olive spread.

Spiros Dragatsis in Yoleni's wine cellar
Spiros Dragatsis in Yoleni's wine cellar
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Wine cellar

After brunch, we took the elevator down to the wine cellar where manager Spiros Dragatsis showed us red and white wines from several regions of Greece.

Santorini wines included Kavalieros, Atlantis and the excellent Assyrtiko. We recalled our recent trip to Santorini, where we saw clusters of grape vines hugging the volcanic soil to retain moisture.

As we left Yoleni's, we resolved to return on our next trip to Athens. In addition to sampling more dishes from the menu and shopping for culinary souvenirs, we planned to pre-book an olive oil or wine-tasting, as well as a Greek cooking class.


Yoleni's Greek Gastronomy Center