I had a layover in Athens back in 2008. The first stop I made when I got out the airport was at Thanasi’s Greek kefta kebab pita joint. I sat in the middle of Monastiraki square and savoured each bite. The pita kebab filled my tastebuds with the celebrated spices that have influenced Greek cuisine for centuries. Thank goodness for the spice trades of India and Persia for the saffron and paprika. Thansis’ pita kebab consists of a fresh grilled pita with spiced ground lamb molded and grilled on a steel stick over hot coals. The tzatziki, yoghurt, onion, cucumber, dill sauce, calms the pungent flavours of the kebab and softens the chew of the fire grilled pastry pita. All the delicious flavours fit in the palm of your hand. The pita kebab is a whole moment of all major food groups wrapped tightly in wax paper. It has the vegetable crunch from the onion and cucumber, fruit of the tomato, diary cream of the yoghurt, and finally the spiced meat kebab grilled on the open fire for the juiciest flavour in the Attica province. I’ve yet to get the secret spices he puts into the kebab, hmmmm.
Now, fast forward to 2011 in Athens, Greece and I am busy buying shoes with my sister, Koko in Plaka instead of getting the secret ingredients. The rest of the family sat down to Thansis’ glorious menu of authentic Greek cafe food. When we did arrive to Thanasi’s with our new Athenian sandals, everyone was pleasantly satisfied and I ended up eating the lasting flavour bites from their plates. The whole place was bustling and I got inspired to do a ‘mini’ photo shoot of “Behind the Grill: at Thanasis”
The owner, Thanasi, was quietly sitting in the back of the restaurant, and smiling for the camera. The food photographed simple and beautiful but what’s best was what came from the 4 metre grill and the men and women behind the scenes. I didn’t ask how many kebabs they serve a day, but no doubt they are serving hundreds of amazing Athenian food memories for tourists and locals. Thanasi has been doing the right thing for the past 50 years, supporting a hardworking team that serves a quality product all grilled and rolled up into proud Grecian flavour.