One of my earliest memories is me going with my father to Paradeisos (‘Paradise’) when he still lived in Nea Smyrni. He would come pick me up on his old Yamaha motorbike and together we’d go have lunch there. I’d always get spaghetti bolognaise (‘makaronia me kima‘). Now, almost 30 years later, O Paradeisos still exists (hurray!) and remains pretty much the same as it was back then — an honest-to-goodness ‘mageireio’. It’s actually been around since the ’50s and today it’s run by the original owner’s grandson, so it probably hasn’t changed a lot since even then, either.
Eating here is a straightforward affair: the cook and/or the waiter invite you inside the kitchen for you to have a look in the pots and trays themselves — now that’s retro! Your fresh daily choices, usually around 8 different dishes, are all strictly informed by the Greek tradition, which of course still means ‘makaronia me kima‘ and other meat/fish dishes but also all the obligatory vegetarian/vegan recipes most Greeks wouldn’t mind eating unless they were reminded they’re vegan (e.g. ‘gemista’ or ‘prasoselino’).
Paradeisos has its loyal fans, many of them elderly people who probably come here every day and sit there smoking and drinking wine way after they’re done with their lunch (or at least used to, before the smoking ban!) Many more come for fresh takeaway.
Completely untouched by modernity, this is probably my most local spot of them all.
Bonus: check out the ancient tombs from the Classical Era on Agias Sofias 89.