Megalos Kafenes (Big Café) at Pyrgos
The Megalos Kafenes, aka Big Café, has been operating for more than a century in this unique square in the village of Pyrgos on Tinos – under a large plane tree (platanos).
Housed in an aristocratic building, the Megalos Kafenes stands next to the square’s second cafe, the Kentriko, which doubles as a sweet shop. The Kentriko may attract more tourists, whether individuals or groups seeking to indulge their sweet tooth, but the Megalos Kafenes embodies the history of the village.
And if you’d like to learn more about the cafe, that’s easy because a recent book about Pyrgos contains a big chapter devoted to the Megalos Kafenes where you can read unbelievable stories about it. Stories about the people who used to gather there – weather beaten seamen, ship captains, farmers, marble workers – who would comment on the day’s events like the chorus of elders in an ancient Greek tragedy, but whose jokes and teasing were also memorable, together with the fact that Yannis Drakopoulos also ran a barbershop inside the cafe!
In 2014 Argyris, the last in the line of owners, did a sweeping renovation of the Megalos Kafenes, but he did it with remarkably good taste, which is not always the case. So often renovations end up destroying the place they’re intended to preserve or at best adulterating its character. But this time, the old photographs and objects from the past are connected with the freshness of the new, such as seats in pastel colours and little tables made of wood and marble. From the gastronomic point of view, what stands out are the sweets (galaktoboureko/custard pie, orange cake and ekmek kataifi) made by Mama Popi and the wonderful local mezedes for ouzo, stroflia (Tinos raki), cool wine or a beer.
Pyrgos’ Megalos Kafenes represents the perfect marriage between the past and the present, a jewel and the pride of Tinos.