The taverna “O Platanos”, owned by Takis Karyanos, is located in Plaka at a small square with a large plane-tree. Both the taverna and the square were named after the plane-tree, platanos in Greek. You’ll find it right next to Aerides, just across the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments.
The taverna was opened by the father of Takis Karyanos in 1933 and its history is strongly intertwined with the cultural hub that was set up on the taverna’s first floor at the beginning of 1920 by three legendary men; the Greek painters Pericles Byzantios and Pavlos Kalligas and the Greek sculptor Fokion Roque. Look for the marble inscription on the entrance of the taverna which stands there to remind visitors of its glorious cultural past.
For twenty years in a row, the taverna, which served as the three artists’ cradle, had become the focal point of the avant-garde art life in Athens.
You’ll be amazed by the famous habitués of both the cultural hub and the taverna; the great Greek poet Kostis Palamas, lawyer, history researcher and poet Dimitris Kambouroglou, the famous Greek prolific writer, author of legendary theatrical plays Grigorios Xenopoulos, the famous writer and founder of theatre companies Spyros Melas, the orchestra conductor, pianist and composer Dimitris Mitropoulos, playwright Timos Moraytinis, composer, piano player and orchestra conductor Napoleon Lambelet, Giorgos Vlachos, the famous politician who also served as Greece’s Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, Marika Kotopouli, a famous actress who excelled in tragedy, Kyveli, actress and impresario, writer Danae Tsoukala and many others.
Even though almost one hundred years have passed since then, “O Platanos” continues to serve the same old traditional Greek dishes, such as vegetables’ stew and many casseroles; lamb with potatoes cooked in the oven and braised veal in tomato sauce served over thick pasta are definitively the stars of the show.
Caressed by the summer breezes, the beautiful pergola of the taverna, gracefully covered by the dense foliage of mulberry trees, offers one of the thickest shadows in Athens during the capital’s hot summer months. Old residents of Plaka, residents of Athens and tourists often stop here to rest for a while, have something to eat and accompany it with the famous retsina (wine flavoured with resin) of the taverna “O Platanos”, which is still one of the most exquisite ones I have ever tasted.