In Greece when you say rare, it really means medium well. when you say medium well, it means well done, and finally, when you say well-done, it means burned.
I’m sure there are many cultural reasons to explain this, but when it comes to eating beef in Greece, this has to change.
So… here is what you will do when you go to Greece. Find a place that serves beef and order it by saying “American Rare”, or “Αμερικανικο Rare” (Amerikaniko Rare). The server will give you a weird look and warn you about the risks and blah blah blah. The butcher and/or chef will show you a huge genuine smile and look forward to preparing the meat for you. They are not used to people ordering their beef rare and they get excited whenever it is requested.
My Top Pick: ERGON House Athens
Address: 23, Mitropoleos Street, Athina 105 57, Greece
Ergon has a small grocery section where you can buy some milk, butter, cold cuts and even caviar in addition to your usual supermarket staples such as pasta, bread, mustard…etc
The front is the ideal place for having a business lunch and once the butcher opens at noon you can pick from a wide array of American, Argentinian, and Greek meats, and have it cooked for you to your liking.
I ordered the beef liver and asked them to hold the potatoes and to cook it ‘american rare’. From my experiences in Greece this summer, asking for rare is not enough, you have to make sure that you really mean rare because in Greece the people are used to cooking their meat well-done. And yes… you should have seen the look on the face of my waittress when I said ‘American rare’ and to hold the potatoes… “don’t you want a salad to balance out all that meat?”. And you should have seen the look on the butchers face. Huge smile of delight and excitement!
Quick Bite: Kostas (Come Early)
Pl. Agias Irinis 2, Athina 105 60, Greece
Kosta is a short walk from ERGON. Everything here tasted great. I recommend you get the souvlaki pita with everything except the tomato sauce.
In the Suburbs: Kozis
P. Tsaldari 34, Melissia 151 27, Greece
Kozi’s is a South African steakhouse with some really good cuts of meat from both Greece and abroad. If you are near the Marousi area, you must go. And I recommend the Greek beef cooked rare. You will not have to tell them ‘american rare’, but I think that will drive the point further and will excite your server and chef alike.
Now most tourists spend a few days in Athens before going to an island. I usually spend some days in Athens and then I go to Chania, the easternmost city of Crete.
In Crete: Pork to Beef to Wild
Daskalogianni 68, Chania 731 00, Greece
This place is open late – until 6am – and likes to think of itself as fast-food. Don’t let that fool you because this place is anything but fast-food in the ‘american’ sense of the word. The chicken is from Greece, the pork from The Netherlands, and the Beef from Argentina. Again, I ordered the beef and asked them to hold the bread and all other sides. I ordered it rare but it came to me ‘american medium’, and since then I started using the phrase ‘american rare’. The beef was very tasty and the presentation was interesting:
Se anammena karvouna
24, Chatzimichali Giannari 20, Chania 731 55, Greece
Comes in as a close second to Pork to Beef to Wild. Again, ask them to hold the bread.
Back to Athens, I did not get a chance to check out these places:
PO Boys BBQ
Lepeniotou and, Agatharchou, Athina 105 54, Greece
A southern themed BBQ place but with a twist – Greek craft beer.
Another Place for Beer: Athena’s Cook
20 Nikis, Athina 105 57, Greece
Athena’s Cook has beer from all over Greece. Last time I went there back in 2016 I remember trying a bunch and whatever I snacked on was good.